Only in Jersey: 3/7/12

It’s Wednesday! We’re halfway through the week, and it’s time for 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.

Who would've thought of West Orange as "status symbol land"?

In the wake of Davy Jones’ untimely death last week, I’ve discovered at least two connections The Monkees have to the Garden State. First, I was very surprised to learn that one of their hit songs, “Pleasant Valley Sunday,’ was written about life in West Orange, of all places. Yup, that’s right: the tune, penned by Carole King and her then-husband, Gerry Goffin, was inspired by their time living on Pleasant Valley Way in the township’s Watchung Mountains. Kinda gives new meaning to the lyrics, huh?
The local rock group down the street
Is trying hard to learn their song
Serenade the weekend squire
Who just came out to mow his lawn

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Rows of houses that are all the same
And no one seems to care

See Mrs. Gray
She’s proud today
Because her roses are in bloom
Mr. Green
He’s so serene
He’s got a TV in every room

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land
Mothers complain about how hard life is
And the kids just don’t understand

Creature comfort goals
They only numb my soul and make it hard for me to see
My thoughts all seem to stray to places far away
I need a change of scenery

The second Monkees/Garden State connection, which I recall but had forgotten, is that the band filmed the video for its ’86 comeback hit, “That Was Then, This Is Now,” at Great Adventure’s arena in Jackson. The song and video only feature Monkees Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, although apparently Davy was part of the tour.

There’s nothing more “Jerseylicious” than… Franklin Township?

I knew “Jerseylicious” was filmed in the general vicinity – aka Somerset County, New Jersey – but I had no idea it was in my backyard.

Welcome to Franklin Township, the fifth best place to live in America!/All photos by Ava Gacser

In the first two episodes alone, the ladies of Green Brook’s Gatsby Salon have ventured into my neck of the woods a whopping three times.

The sign may be relatively new, but the Somerset Diner has been part of my stomping grounds my entire life.

In episode 1, Olivia and her new roommate, Briella, wolfed down “disco fries” (french fries with gravy and mozzarella) at the Somerset Diner on Easton Avenue. (Quick note about the Somerset Diner: This is THE diner in my town. I’ve known it my entire life and to see it on television is just, wow, surreal.)

But that was just episode 1. Little did I know “Jerseylicious” would be back this week, with two more stops in my lifelong hometown.

Franklin tip: If you're looking for apple cider vinegar with *the mother,* then Nature's Weigh is exactly where you need to go.

Next up was Tracy and boyfriend Lorenzo (who also happens to be Olivia/Snooki’s ex), who dropped by the health food shop Nature’s Weigh (which is located in Village Plaza, right next to the diner) to buy some creatine so Lorenzo can bulk up some more. While there the pair discussed Olivia and her faults. “She’s going to be late for her own funeral,” joked Lorenzo.

Then the show moved on to the new digs Olivia shares with Briella… which just happen to be a Korman Community called AVE Somerset on Pierce Street near Elizabeth Avenue (close to the Franklin/South Bound Brook border).

What strikes me as funny is that AVE Somerset is an upscale, fully furnished apartment complex for “short or long-term stays.” Somehow I doubt management would approve of the hot pink paint Olivia and Briella used on their living room wall, but hey, I’m sure the Style Network has that covered.

“We’re from Jersey,” Olivia said while picking up a paint brush. “We don’t pump gas and we definitely don’t paint.”

Another area establishment that was featured prominently in episode 2 was Alfonso’s Family Trattoria in Somerville (which may also appear on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” this season as Teresa Giudice was filmed eating there in September with her father), site of this ridiculous exchange between hairstylist Gigi, her boyfriend Frankie and some hapless waiter. All of them need serious acting lessons:

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Gigi and Frankie (who lives somewhere in Hunterdon County) are the embodiment of the typical Jersey love story (not): The pair met at Dunkin’ Donuts at 3 a.m. He made fun of her rhinestone-studded license plate cover. She sassed him back and that was it. “Who knew he was going to like me when I told him to go f*** himself?” Gigi jokes.

Other Jersey joints featured in”Jerseylicious” include the 46 Lounge in Totowa (episode 1) and Planet Chicken in Dunellen (episode 2), the site of Alexa, Anthony and Gigi’s lunch.

“Anthony, very classy place,” Alexa cattily commented about the eatery. “I have white (wine) in a merlot glass.”

(If Anthony were super-quick on the uptake, he should have responded with this “Seinfeld” zinger: “Merlot? I never heard of it. Did they just invent it?”)

There’s no telling where on Easton Avenue “Jerseylicious” might take us next week.  Blockbuster? Stop N Shop? Unclaimed Freight?

I have no idea, but it sure is fun finding out.

Susie Essman just can’t “Curb (Her) Enthusiasm”

“Can I say f*** in a temple?”

Susie Essman small

Susie made sure she signed each and every book (which I believe numbered well over 100)./Photos by Ava Gacser

Ladies and gentlemen, Susie Essman is in the building – a Jewish temple in bucolic East Brunswick, N.J., as a matter of fact.

“Now I’m here with all you lovely Jews,” she said last night with a smile.

The “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star’s appearance included a Q&A and book signing to promote her recently released memoir, “What Would Susie Say? Bullsh*t Wisdom About Love, Life and Comedy,” at Temple B’nai Shalom. The event, coordinated by the Friends’ Health Connection, was $35 and included a copy of the book which Susie graciously signed at the end of the evening.

Naturally, much of the conversation – which was artfully moderated by Susie’s good friend, comedian/actor/former “Saturday Night Live” writer Alan Zweibel – revolved around Susie’s experiences playing her “Curb” alter ego, the wonderfully foul-mouthed Susie Greene.

She admitted that when hired by Larry David to do the show, she was reticent when “LD” (as Larry refers to himself) instructed her to curse out her co-star and “Curb” husband, Jeff Garlin, in an episode called “The Wire.”

“Rip Jeff a new a**hole,” she recalled was the only direction Larry gave her. And after a bit of cajoling, this was the result:

“He let the genie out of the bottle,” Susie said with a laugh.

She revealed that she and Larry have never had a discussion about who Susie Greene is, and that she was the one who came up with Susie’s crazy taste in clothes.

“Susie is a very simplistic character,” she explained. “You don’t cross her, and you definitely don’t cross her kid.”

She said she’s pretty good at holding it together during filming and doesn’t laugh, but that this week’s episode, “Officer Krupke,” sent her over the edge.

When Larry dropped his pants, “just seeing those spindly legs” was enough to crack her up.

Her favorite episode, though, is “The Doll.” She said that was the first time the “Spaghetti western music that’s become my theme song” (I love that music!) was used.

“I don’t know what’s funnier than (screaming), ‘Get me the f***ing head!'” she laughed.

Susie said that despite the fact that most of actors on the show go by their own names – Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Michael York, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards (you get the picture) – they’re not necessarily playing themselves.

“The only one who is who you think he is is Richard Lewis,” she said.

(Which is a pretty interesting statement, considering his actions in the funniest episode so far of this season, “Vehicular Fellatio.” Clip please:)

“People don’t understand that it’s not reality TV,” Susie added.

Alan agreed, saying that he was just out with Jeff Garlin this week, and people were coming up to Jeff and cursing at him for cheating on Susie – Susie Greene, that is.

Although Susie enjoys being on “Curb,” she said she would like the opportunity to explore different roles… like perhaps on “Mad Men.”

“It’s so beautifully written,” she gushed. “Those characters are so fully drawn.”

You hear that, Matthew Weiner?

One thing is for certain: When Larry originally contacted her about “Curb,” she had no idea it would turn out to be anywhere near as popular its become.

“I never planned to make a living telling people to go f*** themselves,” she said.

A bit about Alan

When Alan Zweibel first came out, I realized my friend Mary Ann and I (who I was again with last night) had seen him perform earlier this year in “Celebrity Autobiography” (also with Susie Essman!) in New York City. He read a hysterical passage from Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee’s memoir, “Tommyland.” Alan, it turns out, was one of the original writers for “Saturday Night Live” and was good friends with Gilda Radner, for whom he wrote her iconic character, Roseanne Roseannadanna. In fact, he’s written a book about that relationship, “Bunny, Bunny: Gilda Radner, A Sort of Romantic Comedy.” Just the little bit he recounted last night was enough to make me want to read the book (and thanks to Franklin Township Public Library, I soon will be!). Alan also talked about his life working in the biz (he’s good friends with Billy Crystal) and his own experiences with Larry David (he was a consultant on “Curb” for a couple of years).

“We all knew that someday the rest of the world will catch up with him,” Alan said, explaining that audiences didn’t seem to appreciate Larry’s sense of humor back in the days when he worked comedy clubs.

Susie agreed, recalling that she and her best friend, Joy Behar, used to hang out with Larry and listen to him complain about women and dating.

“It was all the George stories,” she said and confirmed that “The Phone Message” episode (clip above) was straight out of Larry’s life.

At the end of the evening, Alan hung around the lobby as Susie signed books. He also took the time out to talk with people, signed several of Susie’s books himself and was nice enough to pose for photos, like the one below with me.

me and Alan Zweibel small

I chatted with guest host/comedian/author Alan Zweibel after Susie Essman’s talk.

And here’s another photo of Susie at the signing:

Susie Essman 2 small

“Jon & Kate Plus 8”: It’s a bizarro world after all

What the heck is going on here? Are we in “Seinfeld’s” Bizarro world or what?

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In addition to the new preview (see above) teasing Monday’s highly anticipated announcement on “Jon & Kate Plus 8” (at this point, if they don’t say they’re divorcing I’ll eat my hat), Radaronline has published a photo and story suggesting Jon Gosselin is addicted to nicotine.

Funny, after all the paparazzi photos, this is the only one that's captured Jon's need for weed?

Funny, after all the paparazzi photos, this is the only one that's captured Jon's need for weed?

What what what?

Radaronline quotes a source supposedly close to Jon as saying, “Socially I witnessed him smoking a hookah at some parties, and he really seemed to enjoy smoking flavored tobaccos, too.

“… Although I wouldn’t say he was a ‘heavy smoker,’ he definitely enjoyed a cigarette from time to time.”

And while TLC is forcing us to wait – some with bated breath – for Monday’s revelation, the TV Guide Network promises to tide us over with “Jon and Kate: Is It Too Late?” (Apparently every one of these specials must rhyme. Ridiculous.) The special, which airs at 8 tonight, will rehash the Pennsylvania couple’s relationship. It also will feature interviews with the Gosselins’ friends and neighbors. (Frankly, if they’re talking to the press, I’d question their classification as “friends.”)

And now there are reports circulating that Jon is shopping apartments in Manhattan – specifically Trump property.

Does that mean Jon will be in the next season of “Celebrity Apprentice”? Stranger things have happened.

“Millionaire Matchmaker”: Patti from Jersey offers some great advice

“The Millionaire Matchmaker” is full of it.
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Advice, that is. And it is totally brilliant.

This week’s episode had some real gems. But before I get to them, how hilarious was last week’s episode with Shauna the millionairess? Patti Stanger’s opinionated client really gave her agita – just look at the above video for proof. I mean, who openly insults someone they want to help them? It doesn’t exactly make Patti feel like giving her all, either – especially when Shauna criticizes Patti’s looks.

“First of all, I don’t want a Botoxed, Restylane-injected plastic surgery, lopsided-face look,” Patti shot back after seeing Shauna’s video interview.

Can you tell Patti’s a Jersey girl?

This week, she had two great nuggets of advice to offer women:

“It is so important for women to be women and men to be men, and to keep those roles intact,” Patti explained. “It’s worked for millions of years. And the reason why is the minute you switch into masculine mode, as a feminine woman, and you decide that you’re going to take over the show, you’re going to end up with a son – not a husband.”

“Keep dating other people, let him smell another man around,” Patti advised Maya, who had a great date with Matt. “(If) he senses another penis around him, he’s going to move even faster.”

Too bad Patti had to deal with such knuckleheads this week. Was Jimmy D. intentionally trying to do a John Travolta impression? Because he sounded just like him. And what was up with him referring to himself in the third person? He lifted that straight out of a “Seinfeld” episode – which just happened to feature a guy named (yep, you guessed it) Jimmy. The whole time I was waiting for him to say, “Jimmy is pretty sweet on you!”

What the heck was kooky Cara from “Momma’s Boys” doing here? Is she related to somebody at NBC Universal?
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Patti should definitely reassess her opinion of Cara, who, unless she’s constantly putting her *acting* skills to the test, is a big can of crazy, just like Jimmy D. asserted. All this and a Scientologist, too?

What’s up with this sudden crossover of women on reality dating shows? A couple of weeks ago, Patti interviewed Dallas from the first season of “Rock of Love with Bret Michaels.” Now it’s Cara. Is there suddenly a shortage of single women in Los Angeles?

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