“In A Valley Of Violence,” a revenge-western that stars Ethan Hawke and John Travolta is in theaters and on-demand now. Director/writer Ti West and one of the film’s other stars, James Ransone, chatted with me about creating the movie and working with Travolta.
Check out our interview below and watch the trailer plus the full movie from the comfort of your own home here.

Just 11 months ago, Daya’s parents were pushing her to apply to college, just in-case this whole singing career didn’t pan out.

Fast forward to October 2016, just a few weeks shy of her 18th birthday, and suffice to say the artist will be deferring.

“I did apply last year,” Daya, nee Grace Tandon, told me last weekend after opening for Fergie inside Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena. “It was just kind of a back-up and my parents wanted me to, blah-blah-blah.”

Daya’s older sister attends Brown University in Rhode Island. And the “Hide Away” songstress doesn’t rule out an eventual return to the classroom, but at the moment that certainly isn’t necessary. In less than a year, the Pittsburgh-born singer has scored two top 10 hits at pop radio as a title artist.
But without question her biggest song to-date is the contribution she made to The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down,” a song that grabbed Daya her first ever American Music Award nomination for “Best Collaboration.” “Don’t Let Me Down” also ended up accumulating the most spins of any single this past summer at pop radio.

“That’s crazy! That’s just so wild!” a clearly excited Daya replied when I informed her of that fact. “I didn’t know that it would be that big. I mean, I knew that it was a great song and I was so happy to collaborate with them on it because they’re awesome but you never know with radio.”

Daya is certainly becoming more familiar with the airwaves though. Her latest hit is the title track from her debut album, “Sit Still, Look Pretty.”

“(The song) was always special to me,” she said. “It just kind of felt natural for me to name the album ‘Sit Still, Look Pretty,’ and I think that’s kind of what I want my brand to be as young female artist in this industry; don’t let people limit you in what you can do.”

After all, it’s not like Daya was born in Los Angeles or New York. She grew up in Pittsburgh and the man who executive produced her album, Gino Barletta, is from Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

“This is our baby together that we just created over this past year and a weight feels lifted off of all of our shoulders,” she noted. “We’ve all just helped each other out. We all work hard and are passionate and good things are happening.”

And if they keep that up, who knows what the next 11 months could have in store.

It was an eventful weekend.

My friends at Mohegan Sun asked me to travel up to beautiful Uncasville, Connecticut and host red carpet coverage for the casino’s 20th anniversary celebrations. The festivities for the big 2-0 last throughout the month of October, however last weekend there were two very special events. Kevin Hart hosted a comedy all-stars event at Mohegan Sun Arena, and the after-party took place at Avalon Nightclub, where my first red carpet was located. The second was the “Red Carpet After-Party” inside Uncas Ballroom.
There was no shortage of stars: Hart had Sarah Silverman, Margaret Cho and Dave Attell with him on stage. Jessie James Decker performed in the Cabaret Theater Friday night. Then on Saturday Fergie headlined the arena and LL Cool J performed a free show in the Wolf Den.

JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers, some of The Real Housewives and former “Jersey Shore” star Vinny Guadagnino all came by for “Reality Check” events (the latter in which I also hosted). Some of Buddy’s siblings from “Cake Boss” were on-hand to present a 20th Birthday cake from Carlo’s Bake Shop, which has an outpost inside The Shops at Mohegan Sun.

There were even a few surprises: namely David Ortiz showing up on Friday night and partying with his former teammate Johnny Damon. The following evening, I actually introduced Damon to LL Cool J on the red carpet.

You really can’t make this stuff up. Why would I? Watch the highlights from Friday and Saturday below or check out the full broadcasts here and here.

Jonas Blue called in from Dubai (!) to talk about his latest single, “Perfect Strangers,” joining “Team Follow Back” with Sam Smith and looking up to the great Max Martin.
Fun fact: Blue is the 20th most-streamed artist on Spotify!

Rachel Platten’s 2016 has brought her many different places; one of the latest being Times Square where she, along with Joe Jonas, helped reveal some of the nominees for the 2016 American Music Awards.

When it comes to the show’s biggest prize, “Artist Of The Year,” the “Fight Song” artist knows a thing or two about some of the potential winners. Platten met Selena Gomez (“She’s a wonderful person”), is nominated with Adele in the category of “Favorite Female Artist – Adult Contemporary” and even drew inspiration for her set list from one of the category’s nominees.

“I cover his song on my tour,” she replied when I brought up Justin Bieber. She tackles the hit “Love Yourself” during her show. I then mentioned another artist in the category, Bieber’s fellow Canadian, Drake.
“I also tried to cover his song on my tour, and realized that it wasn’t very good when I did it,” Platten deadpanned regarding the hit “One Dance.” “I wish I had figured it out.”

Platten’s “The Wildfire Tour” kicked off in February, a month after she dropped her major-label debut album. The LP also spawned the hit “Stand By You.”

“I feel like all of my wildest dreams came true the past two years,” she told me. “It’s been so amazing. I worked for a long, long time to get here so I think 2016 will always hold a special place in my heart.”

And the year is far from over; Platten wraps up her tour in Florida on Saturday and will attend the AMAs, which air live November 20 at 8 pm EST in Los Angeles.

By Ralphie Aversa

Charlie Puth confirmed to me that the “Nine Track Mind” album cycle is finished but he stopped short of saying that he wouldn’t be a part of any other new music before year’s end.

“We filmed a video for ‘Dangerously’ just as like a fan thank you,” he revealed. “Yunno, thanks for this amazing life-changing year; here’s a really cool video for a very popular song on the album.”

“Life-changing” is an apt way to describe Puth’s world since the release of “See You Again.” The Wiz Khalifa-fronted song, which served as the main single from the “Furious 7” soundtrack, went on to accumulate GRAMMY and Golden Globe nods while also racking up a billion plays on YouTube.
Then you factor in Puth as a solo artist: three hit singles off a Gold-certified debut album with two U.S. tours in support of it.

“Kind of like a whirlwind,” is how Puth characterized the past year-and-a-half. “I went from literally having nobody know me to, yunno having five security guards around me when I walk around Times Square.”

The Rumson, New Jersey-native seems to enjoy the ride. Just a few nights prior to our chat, he played to a sold-out Beacon Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

“We shut down two streets!” he exclaimed, before chastising me over a tweet I sent about thankfully not grocery shopping that night. The venue is across from my neighborhood store, a Fairway.

“Saw your tweet; you were like, ‘I’m glad I didn’t go shopping!’” Puth repeated, while clearly amused before adding, “Don’t get it twisted. I read your tweets!”

The one consistent since I started interviewing Puth a year-ago is his demeanor: he takes his art seriously but certainly enjoys lightening up a bit too. Apparently, that doesn’t just occur during interviews either.

“I joke around with my boys The Chainsmokers all the time like, ‘When are we going to make a song where we can like, turn up to in Vegas with everybody and make a big party out of it?’” he told me. “I’ve written records with a lot of amazing, legendary artists, new and old, even in these past couple of months.

“So… that’s all I’m going to say.”

Joe Jonas probably has the weekend of November 18 circled on his calendar… or highlighted in his phone. You get the idea.

On that Friday, the Jonas-fronted DNCE will drop its debut, full-length album. The following Sunday, DNCE will head over to the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles for the 2016 American Music Awards. DNCE snagged two nominations, including New Artist Of The Year, which put the “Cake By The Ocean” singer in a league of his own; he’s the first artist to be nominated for that award twice – it’s a trophy he won with his brothers back in 2008.

“That’s an incredible feeling,” Jonas said when I brought that up to him on Monday morning. He and Rachel Platten helped reveal some of the AMA nominations on “Good Morning America” in Times Square. “I was not expecting that; when Rachel said my name, I had to kind of like, take a second to think about it.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s a bizarre feeling to know that you can reinvent yourself and hopefully it encourages a lot of artists out there because part of this game is being able to come up with stuff that’s new and evolve as an artist. We do it because of the love of music.”

DNCE is also up for Favorite Group or Duo – Pop/Rock with some stiff competition between The Chainsmokers and Twenty One Pilots. The band also shares the New Artist nod with The Chainsmokers, as well as Shawn Mendes, Zayn and Alessia Cara.

“It’s going to be a party,” Jonas replied when I asked what he thinks that November weekend will be like. “We’ll probably be still on a high from releasing an album but walking in to nominations amongst these great artists, fan-voted completely, that’s the best feeling.”

Jonas noted that it’s also nice just to have a release date for the anticipated LP.

“We have songs that we just created a few months ago and it’s cool to like actually have a set-date rather than kind of the guessing game,” he said. “I just can’t wait for people to hear it. We’ve been playing some of the songs on tour and testing them out but now to be able to have a physical album to hold on to is a good feeling.”

In addition to “Cake By The Ocean” becoming nearly inescapable, DNCE spent this last summer supporting Selena Gomez on tour. Gomez also scored two AMA nods, including for the evening’s top prize for Artist Of The Year.

The 2016 American Music Awards air Sunday night November 20 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

The weekend was such a whirlwind that it spilled in to Monday.

It started Friday when I decided to celebrate the birthday of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Yes, everyone’s favorite seasonal beverage turned 13 according to Starbucks, who I envision still counting up the sales from that day as I type this. Was it basic? Of course it was! Why else would so many people double-tap it?

To be fair, it’s also an excellent photo that my super-patient colleague Mia took for me on our way back from the Starbucks a block over from the studio.

After Friday night’s show, I headed right home to sleep because I had an early and long Saturday afternoon ahead. The fine folks at the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and John Lennon Educational Bus were holding a block party in Jackson Heights, Queens. Sunday would have been Lennon’s 76th birthday and so the non-profit decided to throw the party on Saturday in what has been dubbed, “the most diverse neighborhood in the world.”

That isn’t just a tagline, either. It was beautiful to see all ages, all ethnicities, all colors come out on a gloomy Saturday to tour the bus, listen to live music and enjoy each other’s company.

I showed up to Queens a little after 11 am and left just before 6. I had enough time to get back to my apartment, change and meet a colleague who was in town and staying near Times Square. I thought we were going to dinner.

Well, we were. But first, we were sitting fifth row at Blake Shelton’s show inside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Dinner did follow at my favorite restaurant, the West Village’s Monument Lane, before drinks and obligatory late-night pizza ensued.

On Sunday I brunched and watched the 1 o’clock game with a friend, went back home to change and then met another friend for drinks at his hotel before heading to Kettle of Fish – the NYC Packers Backers bar – for the Sunday night game.

Look, the colleague is a Packers fan and while I don’t mind the Giants, my Bills won earlier so I was rather indifferent.

Green Bay cruised to victory and shortly thereafter, I cruised back uptown so I could grab some shuteye before interviewing Rachel Platten and Joe Jonas at “Good Morning America.”

Trust me, whirlwinds become much less fun on Monday mornings with short sleep.

This is my second-to-last “2 Slices & A Story” for season one and this episode is sentimental. I thought of the concept for this series on a random Saturday afternoon in the city over lunch with Marc Scibilia (ironically we were not eating pizza; he brought me to this great spot downtown called Cafe Habana). Marc and I were talking about each other’s respective careers and kind of going through an impromptu brainstorming session when I started hashing out the idea for something like this.

It was only a few weeks later when we filmed the first one with the great David Cook.

Of course if anyone knows pizza, it’s someone like Marc who like me, grew up in Western New York. So I’m glad that during his tour with Jon Mclaughlin he was able to swing by and tape this.