“Jerseylicious”: Season 2, take 1

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It’s nothing but drama, drama, drama in the Garden State.

They're baaaaack.... spray tans and Aquanet and all.

At least that’s what you’d assume after watching the first few episodes of “Jerseylicious” this season. What have hairstylists Tracy, Gigi and Anthony, makeup artists Alexa and Olivia, and Green Brook-based Gatsby Salon owners Gayle and Christy been up to? A whole lot. Check it out.

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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.

New Jersey & TV: Perfect together

Quick!  How many television shows can you name that either a) take place in New Jersey or b) feature a New Jersey native?

Greetings from my hometown, New Jersey's Franklin Township (Somerset County), No. 5 on Money Magazine's 2008 Best Places to Live list!

These days, you only have to turn on your television and New Jersey is all up in your face. I can think of a whopping 26 shows off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are others. (Obviously, I am only including current shows, otherwise “The Sopranos” would be at the top of this list.)

In addition to this list, at least three more will join the ranks this year: the tentatively titled “Jersey Couture” (about a dress shop in Freehold/Monmouth County) from Oxygen, “Jerseylicious” (about a hair salon in Green Brook/Somerset County) from The Style Network, and Martin Scorsese’s “Boardwalk Empire” (a historical look back at Atlantic City/Atlantic County) from HBO.

And now, without further ado, is my list of the Top 26 Jersey-centric TV shows:

26. National Geographic Channel’s “The Dog Whisperer”

Pooch communicator Cesar Millan may be from Mexico, but his right-hand man, Daddy the pit bull, was Jersey born and bred.

That’s right: The lovable, gentle giant who’s helped Cesar reform countless pups was originally owned by rapper Redman from Newark (Essex County). When Redman’s tour schedule took him away from Daddy for long stretches of time, Cesar stepped in and offered to adopt him. Nowadays, the 16-year-old cancer survivor is retired from Cesar’s grueling TV schedule, but on any given day you can find repeats that include him.

*Sadly, Daddy died in February 2010.

25. 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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more about “Video: Jim Cramer Pt. 1 | The Daily S…“, posted with vodpod

24. Fine Living Network’s “Closet Cases”

New Brunswick (Middlesex County) native Lloyd Boston puts his best fashion foot forward and helps the clueless sort out their wardrobe.

(Note: The above clip features Lloyd making over his mom, Lynell Kollar. I was present for part of this episode’s shoot, which took place in North Brunswick. You can read all about it on my website.)

23. TLC’s “Table for 12”

The Gosselins aren’t the only family of multiples with their own TV show. “Table for 12” focuses on the mostly harmonious day-to-day lives of the Hayes family – Eric and Betty and their 10 children (two sets of twins and sextuplets) – as they live out their lives in Marlboro (Monmouth County).

(Note: The above video features the Hayes’ trip to Essex County’s Turtle Back Zoo.)

22. 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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21. Sundance Channel’s “Be Good Johnny Weir”

Outlandish, outspoken male figure skater Johnny Weir may originally be from Pennsylvania, but his personality is a chip off his adopted state’s block. Johnny’s Garden State roots run deep: He lives in Lyndhurst (Bergen County) and trains in Wayne (Passaic County). He loves nothing more than vacuuming his apartment and doing dead-on impressions of his Ukrainian coach. And, as his reality show confirms, he’s a complete and utter pleasure to watch, both on and off the ice.

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more about “Johnny Weir vacuuming“, posted with vodpod

20. “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.

19. FX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”

Born in Neptune, raised in Asbury Park (Monmouth County) and boarded at school in Summit (Union County), Danny DeVito has never forgotten his Jersey roots (even after sucking down numerous limoncellos). In addition to his saucy role as Frank Reynolds on “Philadelphia,” Danny owns two production companies – Jersey Films and Jersey Television – which together have produced a variety of impressive titles, including “Pulp Fiction,” “Reno 911!,” “Freedom Writers” and a little film starring another Jersey boy called “Garden State.”

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18. TLC’s “Cake Boss”

Buddy Valastro creates art in his family-owned Hoboken (Hudson County) bake shop.

17. 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:

16. HBO’s “The Life & Times of Tim”

This animated series – which finally returns for a second season Feb. 19 – is the brainchild of East Brunswick (Middlesex County) native son Steve Dildarian. In addition to thinking up all of the cringeworthy scenarios Tim finds himself in, Steve also voices the lead character.

15. Bravo’s “Millionaire Matchmaker”

The outspoken, no-holds-barred owner of The Millionaire’s Club is Short Hills (Essex County) native Patti Stanger, a third-generation matchmaker. “The Millionaire Matchmaker” returns for a third season Jan. 19.

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14. The CW’s “The Vampire Diaries”

TV hunks may come and go, but the pair of cold-blooded brothers stalking Mystic Falls, Va., in “The Vampire Diaries” has definitely heated up primetime this season. Playing good boy opposite former “Lost” star Ian Somerhalder, Marlboro (Monmouth County)-raised (New Brunswick born and Rutgers dropout) Paul Wesley – as 162-year-old Stefan Salvatore – sports chiseled, movie-star looks and a sensitive soul. Right now, he’s clearly won the heart of fair Elena. But brother Damon shares a certain chemistry with Elena, too. Who will ultimately wind up with her?

13. Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report”

Why is Southern-raised Stephen Colbert on this list? Because he’s a Jersey resident – Montclair (Essex County), to be exact.
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12. ABC’s “Scrubs”

You may already know that “Scrubs” star Zach Braff (who also put New Jersey on the movie map with “Garden State”) was raised in Maplewood (Essex County). But did you know that Zach’s co-star, John C. McGinley, grew up one town over in Millburn (Essex County)?
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11. “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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more about “The House Wives Of New Jersy (video) …“, posted with vodpod

10. HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher”

Comedian Bill Maher -a River Vale (Bergen County) native – hosts this informative, entertaining look at current events, politics and popular culture.

(Note: The above clip features Princeton prof Cornel West.)

9. NBC’s “30 Rock”

Long Island may lay claim to funnyman Alec Baldwin, but it’s Parsippany (Morris County) that co-star Jane Krakowski calls home. This versatile actress – who met “Ally McBeal” co-star Calista Flockhart while they were students at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts – is as much at home on the stage (she won a Tony for her performance in “Nine”) as she is playing a goofball on critics’ darling “30 Rock.”

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8. NBC’s “Mercy”

This medical drama about three nurses takes place in a fictional Jersey City (Hudson County) hospital and features numerous Garden State references throughout its episodes. In a brilliant crossover move, “Real Housewives of New Jersey’s” Jacqueline and Teresa added an extra dose of “Joisey” realism to an episode in this, its first, season.

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7. 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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6. E!’s “Chelsea Lately”

If you think Patti Stanger is outspoken, check out Chelsea Handler, host of this nightly comedy/talk show. Chelsea, who is also a stand-up comedian and three-time author (her latest, “Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang,” drops March 9), is nothing but an old-fashioned (translation: sarcastic and snarky) Jersey girl from Livingston (Essex County). Hmmm… maybe there’s something about the water in Essex County?

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more about “Hulu – Chelsea Lately: Jennifer Aniston“, posted with vodpod

(Note: The above clip contains Jennifer Aniston’s fashion diss on Jersey.)

5. 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.

4. Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey”

If there’s one thing we can count on with “The Real Housewives” franchise, it’s confirmation that the rich live well no matter what their zip code. But this Franklin Lakes (Bergen County) bunch brought a breath of fresh air – and more than a few expletives – to the series’ formula. Prostitution whore, indeed!

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3. 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.

2. Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”

Comedian/highly successful mock-talk-show host Jon Stewart was raised in Lawrenceville (Mercer County).
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1. MTV’s “Jersey Shore”

Love it or hate it, MTV has a bonafied hit on its hands with this controversial *reality* show, which has introduced an entirely new vernacular into popular culture. I guarantee most New Jerseyans have never before heard most – if not all – of these phrases before: creeping (hitting on), GTL (gym, tan, laundry), grenade and grenade launcher (and that’s just from one episode!). “Jersey Shore” may in actuality star only one Garden State native (Hazlet’s Sammi “Sweetheart”), but it’s put Seaside Heights (Ocean County) on the nation’s radar, for good or bad.

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New Jersey is where it’s at

We may be experiencing icy-cold temps, but things are definitely cookin’ here in New Jersey.

Move over, Kleinfeld. Diane & Co. is coming to Oxygen./Photo credit Diane & Co.

Aside from California, the Garden State has probably been getting the most attention these days from reality television. Let’s review, shall we?

MTV’s “Jersey Shore” has Ocean County covered.  TLC balanced the overexposed Pennsylvania Gosselin multiples with a kinder, gentler alternative, “Table for 12,” which features one of Marlboro’s (Monmouth County) finest, police officer Eric Hayes, and channeled its inner “Sopranos” with Buddy Valastro’s Hoboken (Hudson County) bake shop in “Cake Boss.” And Bravo bounded Bergen County onto the reality TV map with a little show called “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.”

As of now, at least two more shows will represent assorted corners of the Garden State this year. As I mentioned previously,  The Style Network knows Somerset County is tasty and will get to prove that to the rest of the world when it debuts “Jerseylicious,” about a Green Brook hair salon, beginning March 21. (You can read all about Route 22’s Gatsby Salon stylists right here.)

Not to be outdone, Oxygen is getting in on the Garden State love with “Jersey Couture,” which focuses on an upscale dress shop in Freehold. Way to represent, Monmouth County!

According to MTV News, the shop is Diane & Co. on Route 9, which is run by Diane Scali and her family.

“With a no nonsense attitude, the Scali family’s extravagant dress store is the premiere glamour stop in New Jersey,” Oxygen said in a press release. “Get ready for the Cinderella experience of a lifetime. Whether it’s for her (sic) bride’s maid’s needs or her high school prom frills, when it comes to ‘what to wear’ to that elegant affair, no one gets the job done like the ladies at Diane & Co.”

Sounds like “Say Yes to the Dress” for the teen crowd, no?

You can learn more about Diane & Co. – and perhaps get a taste for what the show will be like – by following the shop on its Facebook page.

Meanwhile, I want to know how long it will take before Middlesex County gets its big break…

You can’t get more “Jerseylicious” than Green Brook

Big news, New Jersey residents: The Garden State will no longer be defined by “The Sopranos” and “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.”

sopranos

Fuggedaboutit! Thanks to The Style Network, New Jersey will no longer be known just for its abrasive personalities and big hair. Then again, maybe it will.../Credit HBO (above) and Bravo (below)

RHNJ reunion necklace

No, sirree. Instead, the little state that could will from now on be known as “Jerseylicious”… or so The Style Network hopes.

The network has given the greenlight to the *reality* show – and yes, it’s most definitely called “Jerseylicious” – which will follow both the professional and personal lives of six hair stylists. The action, according to New Jersey Newsroom, will take place at The Gatsby Salon in Somerset County’s Green Brook (which also happens to be the home of “Real Housewife of New Jersey” Teresa Giudice’s favorite furniture store, Unique Furniture).

“Our viewers are in for a wild ride when they enter this hairspray mayhem,” Salaam Coleman Smith, president of The Style Network, said in a statement obtained by New Jersey Newsroom. “We love that this series takes a fun look at the always entertaining personal lives and real-life drama of this outrageous staff while also capturing the fabulous makeovers and ‘Jerseylicious’ styles at the salon. It’s a perfect combination for Style’s young female audience.”

The salon, located on Route 22, is run by Gayle and Christy, a mother/daughter team. After two marriages, Gayle is back on the dating scene, and Christy is working hard at building up her stake in the business, says the article. Other stylists profiled on the show include Gigi, who is described as a “Bridezilla”-wannabe, and Anthony, the lone male who is trying to provide for his family.

The show, which is set to debut in the spring, will also be filming in other Central New Jersey locales. It is produced by Endemol USA, which also produces “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Deal or No Deal,” Big Brother” and “Wipeout.”

You can check out The Gatsby Salon’s Facebook page right here.

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