Only in Jersey: 2/8/12

It’s Wednesday, and I’m back with another edition of Only in Jersey!

If it’s filming in Jersey, takes place in Jersey, or is about celebs from Jersey, you will find it here.

Yes, they do grow 'em like this in the Garden State./Photo credit EW

The very definition of "Sophie's Choice."/Photo credit EW

Forget about country boys – thank God for Jersey boys!

That’s what I’m sure millions of women will say when this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly hits the stands and they feast their eyes on Paul Wesley, star of The CW hit series “The Vampire Diaries.” Paul, who was born in New Brunswick and raised in Marlboro, graces the magazine with (depending on which one of three covers you pick) costars Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder. Paul’s character, Stefan Salvatore, the show’s resident “good” vampire, went rogue this season while his brother, Damon (Somerhalder), has taken over the hero vampire role. Don’t expect it to last.

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“Paranormal State”: They’re heeeeere! (in New Jersey, I mean)

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Ryan Buell will never forget the paranormal investigation that freaked him out the most.

Paranormal Research Society founder Ryan Buell and tech expert Sergey Poberezhny spoke last night at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ./Event photos by Ava Gacser

The star of A&E’s “Paranormal State” and the founder/director of Penn State University’s Paranormal Research Society said the case that most got to him involved a renovated townhouse in Pennsylvania. The home was once the site of drug-dealing, prostitution and other assorted unsavory activities, possibly including sacrifices. The current owner had purchased it for a song via foreclosure, and her adult son and his fiancée were living there.

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“Larry King Live” tackles Jersey girl Chelsea Handler

“Larry King Live” devoted an entire hour recently to Jersey girl Chelsea Handler, who was promoting her new book, “Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang.”

(Chelsea’s dressing down of Kate Gosselin, above, is just one of the reasons I like her.)

Not surprisingly, at least if you are familiar with the three-time author and host of E!’s late night talk show “Chelsea Lately,” her conversation with Larry turned to the Garden State and the plethora of television shows about it. Their discussion went something like this:

Larry: What do you make of this Jersey thing?

Chelsea: Well, I mean I’m from New Jersey so I’m proud to be from New Jersey. I’m from a nice part. But there are parts of New Jersey that look like the “Jersey Shore” and what’s depicted on this show. It can be pretty crazy. So when people from New Jersey get mad about the depiction, and they say “Oh, how can you say that?,” well, I’m from there and it is like that.

Larry: Do you think it’s because it’s between New York and Pennsylvania?

Chelsea: Yeah, somebody told me that the other day. It’s kinda like a middle child of those states. Maybe. I didn’t see all of New Jersey like that. But these reality shows are all ridiculous so why not get New Jersey in the mix?

Larry: Where are you from in New Jersey?

Chelsea: Livingston.

Larry: Oh ohhhh. That’s upper class.

Chelsea: Well, it was upper class. But my parents were just below middle class.

New Jersey and TV: Part 2

I am regularly floored by the number of television celebrities who hail from New Jersey – and I’m not even including those who are contestants on reality shows!

Here’s the latest crop of Garden Staters to come to mind (in no particular order):

ABC’s “Lost”

While his character is not one of the original “Lost” castaways, there is no doubt that former Old Bridge resident (Middlesex County) Ken Leung (ghost buster Miles Straume) is a star of the most mammoth TV series, like, ever. His delicious sarcasm rivals Sawyer’s and proves that he’s a Jersey boy at heart.

Travel Channel’s “No Reservations”

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain is the epitome of a Jersey boy: sarcastic and wry, with a sharp wit.  Though the Leonia-born (Bergen County) Bourdain cops to wishing he’d lived his youth in “the city,” his love of the Garden State comes shining through in one of the first episodes of “No Reservations.” Take a peek:

“Regis and Kelly” (syndicated)

You know Kelly Ripa as the perky sidekick of the lovable curmudgeon Regis Philbin on “Regis and Kelly,” but years ago she was just another Jersey girl – albeit one (from Berlin in Camden County) who just happened to shake her groove-thing daily on a little local TV show called “Dancin’ On Air.” The show, filmed in Camden and aired on a Philly network, “Dancin’ On Air” (which morphed into “Dance Party USA” when the show went national), featured teased-out teens dancing to ’80s hits. Ms. Kelly a was a regular and her long, curly blond hair was the envy of many viewers (including me, who watched the show religiously in high school). Here she is (with Regis) poking fun at more Jersey girls on my list, “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”:

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USA’s “White Collar”

Though he may be forever typecast as Carrie Bradshaw’s fashion-forward friend Stanford Blatch in HBO’s “Sex and the City,” Highland Park (Middlesex County) native Willie Garson continues to find work on both the large and small screen. His latest is the series “White Collar,” in which he plays a con man.

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Fox’s “Glee”

I bet New Jersey has never been more happy to claim a geek as one of its own than Lea Michele’s character Rachel Berry in “Glee.” Not only does Lea, who grew up in Tenafly (Bergen County), have killer pipes (at 23, she’s a Broadway veteran), she’s also proven herself to be an adept actress and fashion maven.

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“The Wendy Williams Show” (syndicated)

“How you doin’?” The phrase may be synonymous with Joey from “Friends,” but radio-turned-TV talk show host Wendy Williams has made it all her own. The host of the daily gab-fest “The Wendy Williams Show” is a Jersey girl through and through: Raised in Ocean Township (Monmouth County), she now makes her home in North Jersey.

CNBC’s “Mad Money”

“Mad Money” host Jim Cramer may be from Pennsylvania, but it’s Summit (Union County) he calls home. The author, former hedge fund manager and co-founder of TheStreet.com gained perhaps the most notoriety (and not in a good way) last year when he received a public smackdown courtesy of another Jersey boy, “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart.

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Fox’s “House”

It may not feature any actors from the Garden State (former Monmouth resident Kal Penn’s character was killed off last year), but “House” officially put Princeton – and Plainsboro (Mercer and Middlesex counties, respectively)- on the nation’s radar. The hospital may not exist in reality, but the series is sprinkled with occasional Garden State references. And, in an ironic twist of life imitating art, construction on a new Princeton hospital – in Plainsboro – is underway.

What other Jerseyans or Jersey-based shows made my list? Go here to find out.

“Paranormal State” turns to these New Jersey PROs

By Ava Gacser

(Editor’s Note: Hours before this episode of “Paranormal State” aired, I was informed that the footage featuring NJ-PRO did not make the final cut.)

In a world where reality television is the norm, and for many, Andy Warhol’s prediction of everyone getting their 15 minutes of fame is often attainable, it’s unusual – and pretty darn sweet – when fame literally falls into your lap.

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Yet that’s exactly what happened to Greg Papalcure, who – along with his fellow New Jersey Paranormal Research Organization (NJ-PRO) co-founders, husband and wife Andy and Christine Rivera – will be featured in the Tuesday, Feb. 2 episode of “Paranormal State” (10 p.m., A&E), entitled “Lost Souls.”

And it’s all thanks to a seemingly innocent conversation Greg had with a Pennsylvania woman named Kathy.

“‘Oh, my house is haunted,'” Greg, 23, recalls the woman telling him back in 2008. “Do you want to come in?”

Greg Papalcure

Andy Rivera

Christine Rivera

Did he ever. With his NJ-PRO colleagues in tow, Greg – who serves as a lead investigator and tech specialist for the Central Jersey-based group – took Kathy up on her invitation. And then they came back, again and again.

“Every time we were there we uncovered something,” Greg recalls.

“Everything was escalating,” explains lead investigator and case manager Christine, 34. Unexplained events (which allegedly began during home renovations several years earlier) were disrupting Kathy’s daily life and negatively affecting her relationships with friends and family, as well as impacting her son, Michael.

“She was being locked up in her own home because nobody wanted to come visit her,” Christine says.

Things took an even more serious turn when unexplained phenomena began happening while Kathy’s infant grandchild was visiting.

“The baby was interrupted sleeping,” lead investigator and audio specialist Andy, 27, says. “(Something) was taking the covers off of the child.”

It was then that the team decided to contact Paranormal Research Society (PRS) at Pennsylvania State University. Founded by then-student Ryan Buell in 2001, PRS and its investigations have been the subject of the hit A&E program “Paranormal State” since 2007.

The evidence NJ-PRO had amassed in a year of documenting Kathy’s case – which includes electronic voice phenomena (EVPs) and the physical manipulation of objects – was enough not only to intrigue PRS but convince Ryan to check it out for himself. A week after sending off an email, Greg received a response: PRS was interested.

The investigation of Kathy’s home took place in September 2009 and includes impressions by Michelle Belanger, one of PRS’ go-to psychic mediums. Filming lasted three days, and Christine, Andy and Greg were present on one day. Christine and Greg were interviewed on camera by Ryan and his tech specialist, Sergey Poberezhny, but the team was not invited to join PRS’ investigation of the property.

“We were getting updates from PRS throughout” the day, however, Christine explains.

PRS has often expressed a willingness to work with other paranormal research groups. In an A&E online video, Ryan explains, “The great thing about having a paranormal team that’s already worked on a case is that you suddenly have a lot of information.”

NJ-PRO’s members say they appreciated PRS’ involvement in the case. They also enjoyed watching how the seasoned team works, which Andy says is similar to how his group functions – with one main difference.

“They tend to go with psychics, and we try to stay away from that,” he says.

Greg agrees.

“We deal with more of the scientific side of the investigation,” he adds.

However, the trio doesn’t rule out working with psychics in the future. And they definitely admired how PRS relates to the people it is trying to help.

“We really like the way that they are more client-based,” Greg says.

Being so close in age – the PRS members are in their teens and 20s – certainly helped the groups get along, too.

“Everybody was really nice,” says Andy.

“They were very approachable – individually and as a group,” agrees Christine.

The two teams got along so well, in fact, that PRS last fall invited Greg, Andy and Christine to attend an advance screening of the film “Paranormal Activity” on the university’s State College, Pa., campus.

The positive experience with PRS has whetted NJ-PRO’s appetite for a show of their own.

“We are working with a producer in developing episodes we hope to market to TV channels,” Christine says. “It’s a new field that’s been opened up to us.”

And while the status of PRS’ investigation into Kathy’s home remains uncertain (the conclusion of Tuesday’s episode will hopefully shed light on that), NJ-PRO says its case remains open.

Contact NJ-PRO

In the meantime, the non-profit group is actively seeking clients. If you are experiencing unexplained phenomena and live in the tri-state area (or beyond), you may contact NJ-PRO by visiting its website, Facebook and Twitter pages, or by calling (908) 4-HAUNT-0.

Author’s note: Special thanks to my friend/former newspaper colleague Pulp Tone for promoting this story. If you don’t follow him – via his website, Twitter or Facebook pages  – you certainly should.

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