“My So-Called Life”: You’re so beautiful, it hurts to look at you

I’m so glad Sundance Channel started showing reruns of “My So-Called Life” this spring.

Oh, Jordan Catalano.../All photos by ABC

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it – over 15 years in the case of some episodes – but I quickly fell in love with it all over again.

That was especially true of last week’s episode, “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities,” which was particularly bittersweet, amazing, and devastating – because it was the final episode E-V-E-R. How on earth could we just be left hanging like that, never knowing for certain whether Angela Chase finally got over her Jordan Catalano-centric obsession (however understandable it was), realized that her childhood bud Brian Krakow has loved her and worshiped her for, like, forever, and actually acted upon it?

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“Chelsea Lately” goes Johnny Weir and “Jerseylicious”

What things come immediately to mind when you think of New Jersey?

If it’s a lack of U-turns, then you have something in common with male figure skater/reality television star Johnny Weir. The Lyndhurst resident (who trains at an ice rink in Wayne) gracefully defended the Garden State during a conversation with Livingston native Chelsea Handler on her E! talk show “Chelsea Lately” Tuesday night.

Chelsea’s interview with Johnny veered onto the New Jersey Turnpike as he spoke about the rigors of practicing on ice for hours on end.

“On top of it, you have to live in New Jersey,” Chelsea pointed out.

“Well, you’re a Jersey girl, too,” Johnny replied with a laugh.

“And you know where I went when I was 19 years old?” Chelsea quipped. “Out of New Jersey!”

“I love New Jersey, though,” Johnny responded. “There’s something very special and aggressive and ‘no U-turning’ about it.”

“There’s something very special and aggressive and it’s called the ‘Jersey Shore,'” Chelsea shot back. “Have you ever met anybody from that show?”

“No,” said Johnny. “And I don’t really need to.”

This was the second time Chelsea has mentioned her home state within a week. She recently turned her critical eye toward the Style Network’s “Jerseylicious” about a “gross hair salon” in Green Brook. Take a look:

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“New Jersey, would you please stop embarrassing me?” Chelsea pleads. “I know you’re New York’s chunkier, sluttier younger sister, but pull yourself together, girl.”

Johnny Weir isn’t just good, he’s all over the place

Since I first started watching Johnny Weir’s reality show “Be Good Johnny Weir” last week, I have seen the U.S. figure skater (and Jersey boy) all over the place. And that’s a good thing!

First, I caught up on an interview Johnny did for HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” where he hilariously pointed out that figure skating and football aren’t all that different (except maybe figure skaters keep their hands to themselves):

I think he really hit it off with correspondent Frank Deford (himself a Princeton University graduate), don’t you?

Then I found this outtake from “Be Good Johnny Weir,” in which Johnny does one of his hilarious impressions of his Ukrainian coach Galina Zmievskaya:

Then last night Johnny appeared (all too briefly) on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” in which he was thrown the ridiculous *Facebook* question “How does it feel to be so fierce?”

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Johnny was back on the tube this morning, visiting “Regis & Kelly.” Kelly Ripa, herself a Jersey girl, is evidently a huge fan.
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Johnny also is featured in a Vanity Fair spread on athletes of the 2010 Olympics. The caption accompanying Johnny’s photo includes his revelation that after competing in this month’s World Figure Skating Championships in Italy, he plans on a little sojourn to Mongolia, of all places.

One thing you can definitely say about Johnny: He's comfortable in his own skin./Photo by Vanity Fair

“I’m going to take a vacation to Mongolia because I want to ride a yak,” he told the mag. “…and then maybe (I will) continue skating, but if not, I want a career in fashion.”

Alas, not all of the Johnny-mania lately has been positive.  People reported that two insensitive and clueless Canadian sports broadcasters stuck their feet in their mouths when they made inappropriate remarks about Johnny during the Olympics.

“This may not be politically correct, but do you think he lost points due to his costume and his body language?” Claude Mailhot of RDS, a French-language sports channel in Quebec, is quoted as saying.

Fellow broadcaster Alain Goldberg said he thought that Johnny’s mannerisms might hurt other male figure skaters.

“They’ll think all the boys who skate will end up like him,” he said. “It sets a bad example.”

The mocking didn’t stop there, though. The pair also joked that maybe Johnny should be required to take a gender test and that perhaps he should compete against women instead.

In his typical style, Johnny rose above the fray.

“It wasn’t these two men criticizing my skating, it was them criticizing me as a person, and that was something that really, frankly, pissed me off,” Johnny said. “Nobody knows me. … I think masculinity is what you believe it to be.”

Be Good, (Jersey boy) Johnny Weir

I had no idea U.S. male figure skater Johnny Weir had his own reality television show – or that he makes his home in the Garden State.

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Wonder if he finds time to GTL every day?

Anyway… I watched him compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics last week, where he came in sixth. But it wasn’t until I heard about – and finally caught up on- the Sundance Channel series “Be Good Johnny Weir” over the weekend that I realized that a) Johnny’s a Jersey boy and b) he’s a really likable Jersey boy. Just check out this clip of him working with this group of budding female skaters:

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Technically, Johnny’s originally from Pennsylvania (his family lives in Delaware), but he moved to North Jersey (where he’s obsessed with vacuuming)…

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and trains at the Ice Vault in Wayne.

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“Be Good Johnny Weir” is a totally addictive show, and that’s entirely because Johnny is such an interesting – and entertaining – character to watch. His interactions with his stoic Russian coach Galina and struggles on and off the ice shed a unique light on the turbulent life of a professional figure skater.

If watching the show – which airs at 10:30 p.m. Mondays – piques your interest in Johnny further, then check out his Twitter and Facebook pages or his website.

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