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Who has the best deals and what’s worth waiting until Cyber Monday for? We went right to the source: BradsDeals.com‘s Rebecca Lehmann to find out.

For our second and final day inside Westwood One’s Backstage at the 2016 American Music Awards, we chatted with a bunch of stars, including a few performers for Sunday night’s AMAs. John Legend reminisced about his time as a church choir director in Scranton and revealed his Thanksgiving plans, The Chainsmokers talked about working in the studio with Coldplay’s Chris Martin and former “Glee” star Jane Lynch popped by to explain why she released a Christmas album. More photos, videos and audio interviews below.





Gold medalist, Final Five member, “Dancing With The Stars” contestant and New Jersey native Laurie Hernandez called in to my show Thursday night ahead of her homecoming show Friday at the Prudential Center in Newark. In between “DWTS” and all of the other opportunities she’s receiving as a 16 year-old Olympian, the Old Bridge-born star is on tour with the “Kellogg’s Tour Of Gymnastics Champions.” Buy tickets to Friday’s show here.

Photo: USA Gymnastics / John Cheng

Photo: USA Gymnastics / John Cheng

Hernandez talked about coming home, touring the country, competing on the Olympics and on “DWTS” as well as if she’s started thinking about college or the 2020 Olympics.

I sat there across from Charlie Heaton inside a room at The Ritz-Carlton in the Battery Park neighborhood of Manhattan. It was just me, the “Stranger Things” star and my audio recorder. On top of the success from the hit Netflix series, the 22 year-old was running the gauntlet on a full day of press to promote “Shut In,” his breakout role on the silver screen. He stars in the film alongside Naomi Watts.

This guy isn’t even a trained actor! But a series of hard work and lucky breaks found him here, at the fanciest of hotels, talking with me.
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So what is his life like right now?

“Yeah, I mean… life is great. Life is really great,” he replied, taken aback by the question, almost at a loss of words to describe what’s happening in his world at the moment. “Stranger Things” season two is on the horizon and he also just filmed a movie in Mexico that’s slated for a 2017 release. “Life is exciting and changing very fast.”

That could be a bit of an understatement. It wasn’t that long ago when Heaton was unknown in the entertainment industry, submitting audition after audition at the encouragement of his agent. Nothing stuck, until “Shut In” did. Then came “Stranger Things.” And now he’s living out a dream that people spend their whole lives chasing.

“From this movie is where it kind of all catapulted,” he explained of “Shut In,” crediting director Farren Blackburn with essentially giving the actor his big break. “The last two years has been a bit of a roller coaster ride.”

Part of that ride has included working alongside Winona Ryder in the Netflix series and Watts in the new film, which hits theaters Friday.

“With acting, I’ve been very fortunate that every time I’ve been on a set, I’ve felt like I’ve had a lot of support from actors,” he mused when I asked about sharing the screen with Watts. “We would do a scene and it’s my coverage which means the camera is on me, not her. And she would give exactly as much as she did when the camera was on her.

“It was very calm. I was nicely brought in to it and almost mothered in to the world of acting.”

Watts plays Mary Portman, a psychiatrist who herself is also receiving treatment. She and her husband decide to send her stepson Steven (Heaton), away to receive help for what they believe is a mental issue. The father drives his son and on the car ride, they get in to an accident. Portman’s husband dies and her stepson is left paralyzed.

The thriller takes a number of twists and turns from there as Portman tries to care for her son and also rescue a young boy before he disappears.

As for Heaton, he is preparing for season two of “Stranger Things” as Jonathan Byers, the older brother of the missing Will Byers.

“It’s wonderful but nobody expected it to blow up like this,” he admitted. “What shocked me the most is how people have reacted online to it. It seems like for a good, solid three months it’s all that anyone’s been talking about.”

Heaton is also getting used to people recognizing him on the street. Fittingly, he told me this as the publicist walked in to the room to wrap our interview; two things that he will no doubt grow accustomed to over this next year.

Actress, model and comedian Arielle Vandenberg called in to chat about her new web series, “Car Star,” which is available starting Monday (10/31) on Verizon’s Go90 app. Vandenberg hosts the episodes, which pair user-submitted karaoke videos with stars like Pentatonix, MAGIC! and Lindsey Stirling.
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Vandenberg, who has over 2 million Vine followers, also talked about Twitter’s announcement this past week that Vine would be discontinued.

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.
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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.

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.
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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.
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“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.
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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.”

“I stepped on stage, at Live Aid. I’m one-of-the-reasons why Yeezys can get made.”

It is the rhyme that Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, a member of the legendary Run-D.M.C., drops when he speaks at schools and kids question his modern-day relevance. And while the average grade school student might not know any better, any older music fan certainly does, right down to the relationship that both DMC and Kanye West have with Adidas.

“When Steven Tyler took the mic stand in the ‘Walk This Way’ video that we made with Aerosmith,” McDaniels began to recall. “When he knocked the wall down, people tell me, ‘Yo D, it didn’t just happen in the video; that happened in the world.’”

That single moment can somewhat encapsulate the global impact of Run-D.M.C., both musically and culturally. But the group’s influence also reached far in to the fashion world. In 1986 the Queens-natives dropped “My Adidas.” It spurred the first time a major apparel company offered a sponsorship deal to a non-sports entity. Now three decades later, Run-D.M.C. has partnered with retailer Fanatics to release a line of officially licensed apparel that personalizes the iconic Run-D.M.C. logo for different teams based on the organization’s home city and colors.
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“Our influence is respected,” McDaniels responded when I asked what it meant to him that so many years later, the logo and culture of Run-D.M.C. is still relevant and sought after. “But we had no idea that our presence was respected…to still be allowed to participate is very humbling.”

However as DMC accurately pointed out, the idea of the group’s logo changing for a city or cause is nothing new.

“But what (the Fanatics partnership) does is, it universally makes it personal to the particular person who is going to wear the merchandise,” he explained. The line, which includes shirts and snapback hats, officially launched with all NBA teams at the Association’s flagship store in New York on Wednesday.

McDaniels, who works closely with Madison Square Garden’s “Garden Of Dreams Foundation,” wore the Knicks shirt during Wednesday’s launch event. Despite his status as a New Yorker, DMC noted that seeing the logo repurposed for cities like Boston and Philadelphia wasn’t weird.

“Yunno why? Because it’s not our black, red and white logo with the city,” he said. “It’s the team’s colors.”

And like that wall-breaking collaboration with Aerosmith in the 80’s, McDaniels hopes that with the Fanatics partnership, the new incarnations of the Run-D.M.C. logo can unite fans of different teams.