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.

Only in Jersey: 3/6/12

It’s Tuesday! 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.

The Vanity Fair spread includes new images of the cast (some of those last seen alive, above, and dead, below) by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz./Photo credit Vanity Fair

This year marks five years since HBO’s brilliant, Jersey-immersed series “The Sopranos” ended. And the April issue of Vanity Fair commemorates the anniversary with a look back at the show, which includes new interviews with all of the principals, including Clifton/North Caldwell-raised creator David Chase and stars James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano) of Park Ridge, Edie Falco (Carmela Soprano), Lorraine Bracco (Dr. Jennifer Melfi) and more. Among the interesting tidbits:

Steven Van Zandt (Silvio Dante) talks about the infamous (off-camera) scene in which he kills Adriana La Cerva (Drea de Matteo): “So for – whatever – six hours, you have to beat this girl up, drag her out of the car, throw her on the ground. That was really difficult. I felt so exhausted at the end of that day. I said to Drea, ‘You better win the damn Emmy after all this, you know, make it worth it.’ And she did.”

David Chase originally wanted Steven Van Zandt for the role of Tony Soprano.

Tony Sirico (Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri) and Frank Vincent (Phil Leotardo) auditioned for Corrado “Uncle Junior” Soprano, but Dominic Chianese got the part.

Steven Schirripa (Bobby “Bacala” Baccalieri) wore fat suits for the first two seasons of the show: “And then I guess, in Season Four, David thought I was fat enough on my own, so he let me get rid of it.”

Steven Schirripa talks about the pay dispute between James Gandolfini and HBO, which delayed filming: “After Season Four, Jim called all the regulars into his trailer and gave us $33,333 each, every single one of us… That’s like buying everybody an SUV. He said, ‘Thanks for sticking by me.'”

Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti) on the series controversial ending: “I thought it was a great ending. A lot of people hated it and thought it was a cop-out, but I thought it was the proper way. Knowing David Chase, he never liked to wrap things up neatly. I never expected it to be either a cliffhanger so people would wait for the movie or wait for another season or just some like really final thing. But I think he’s (Tony) dead, is what I think. David was trying to put us in the place of the last things you see before you die. You remember some little details and something catches your eye and that’s it. You don’t know the aftermath because you’re gone.”

You can see more of Annie Leibowitz’s images here. If you are a big “Sopranos” fan, you will definitely want to pick up Vanity Fair this month!

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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.”

“Jersey Shore”: Here’s The Situation

So here’s The Situation:

MTV’s “Jersey Shore” has people divided into two camps; there are those who love the *reality* show for its pure entertainment value, and those who hate it because they believe it – like its predecessors “The Sopranos” and “Real Housewives of New Jersey” – reinforces negative stereotypes about Italian-Americans.

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Obviously, Conan O’Brien is in the former camp. And after watching the first three hours of this train wreck (during which I couldn’t bring myself to look away, no matter how inane the conversations), I have to say I agree. Hey, I’m from Jersey, and I certainly don’t like the idea of people actually believing that everyone in the Garden State behaves like Snooki, J-Woww and Pauly D, et al. But then, you’d have to be pretty ignorant to think that in the first place.

For the record, Sammi is the only cast member who’s actually a Jersey girl. (Though her behavior toward BFF Ronnie was pretty atrocious last week, I’m willing to give her a chance to make her home state – and hometown of Hazlet and alma mater of William Paterson – proud. I have a feeling I might be waiting a while…)

Meanwhile, here’s the rest of Conan’s interview with The Situation and Snooki. Alas, no mention was made of the punch felt around the world – or the New York schoolteacher who threw it:

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Not to be outdone, Jimmy Kimmel (who is of Italian descent and says he doesn’t find the show offensive) also invited The Situation, Snooki and Pauly D on his show. Check it out:

No matter what the controversy, you have to realize that a show is having an impact on popular culture if two late-night talk show hosts have featured “Jersey Shore” cast members before the third episode of this series has even aired. I’m certainly impressed. Plus, I think you can definitely say the show has its first genuine breakout star: The Situation. From what we’ve seen here, he’s actually pretty charming.

In the meantime, if you want to try out the Guido/Guidette name generator Conan was talking about, go here.

Update

If you think these videos of the “Jersey Shore” cast are amusing, then check out this video from “The Jay Leno Show.”

Vanity Fair hits the nail on the head with “Jon & Kate Plus 8”

This month’s online Vanity Fair article about Kate Gosselin confirms something I’ve suspected all along: Both she and Jon are addicted to all of the attention.

I am almost embarrassed to admit I own every one of these issues. Sheesh.

I am embarrassed to admit I own almost every one of these issues. Sheesh.

And, I suppose, in some sort of sick way, it’s understandable: Since March of this year, Kate and her husband of extremely poor judgment have appeared on the cover of celebrity tabloids over 50 times (15 times each in In Touch Weekly and Star Magazine alone). Vanity Fair says that number is more than any other celebrity, Brangelina included.

Star Magazine editor Candace Trunzo points to those photos of Jon partying at a bar with college coeds in Pennsylvania as the beginning of the insanity.

“It was the beginning of this incredible phenomenon known as Jon and Kate Gosselin,” Trunzo tells Vanity Fair. “Everybody wanted to talk about them. They had become a real-life soap opera. The show was never as interesting as the two of them in real life.

“They were doomed to be exposed,” Trunzo continues, “because they put themselves out there in the first place. And now they’re addicted to the limelight.”

And are they ever. “The View,” the “Today” show, “Larry King Live,” “The Insider”… it’s endless.

Not surprisingly, the Jon and Kate scandal has drastically benefited these magazines, all of which have been suffering the effects of the slowed economy. Vanity Fair says that unlike other celebrity stories, the Gosselins are easy to produce, partly because the price of paparazzi shots of them run a lot less.

It also helps that Jon and Kate either don’t know how to control their image or don’t want to.

“Brad and Angelina try to be discreet,” explains In Touch Weekly editor Richard Spencer to Vanity Fair, “whereas Jon and Kate, they serve it daily to you on a platter.”

And if you had any doubt that Kate isn’t lapping up all this attention, check this out: During a shopping trip the Vanity Fair writer took with Kate to FAO Schwarz in New York City, a paparazzo sneaked photos of Kate as her purchases were rung up. He explains, “She’s a massive story at the moment.” When the Vanity Fair reporter relays that news to Kate, guess what her reply is?

“At the moment?”

This whole exploration of addiction to fame reminds me of what Kate said on the “Today” show a couple weeks back – about how her kids are upset that the TLC show isn’t taping.

“Over the weekend I told them that we’re not filming at this point,” she told Meredith Vieira. “And actually, times eight, there was wailing and sobbing. They love our crew, they love the interaction, they love the events. There is nothing harmful about it. They are angry.”

Based upon her statement, I’d argue the Aaden, Alexis, Hannah, Leah, Joel and Collin are addicted to the attention, too. And how could they not be? It makes perfect sense: Their parents probably pay more attention to them while the show is filming than at any other time. Plus, they have other people (the film crew) whom they can turn to when their parents are distracted.

Dr. Drew Pinsky should forget about celebrities addicted to drugs, alcohol and sex, and instead focus on those who are addicted to media attention. He’d have more clients than he’d know what to do with – and he’s already got 10 in Pennsylvania.

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