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Damaris Lewis is a celebrity mentor for Thursday’s Garden of Dreams Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall. The Brooklyn-born star brings a diverse resume to the table: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model, backup dancer for Prince and cameo in Kanye West’s music video for “Monster” are just a few of the things found on her Wikipedia (of course, we confirmed). Not surprisingly, Lewis was able to answer a question about what kids participating in the show could learn from the aforementioned musicians with relative ease.

“Listen,” she responded when asked what “The Purple One” could teach others. “I think that working with Prince, the one that I notice is that he hears everything. He’s very observant, and that’s important if you’re going to go in to a career in entertainment. You need to know what’s happening all around you, at all times.”

Perhaps his public persona would prevent others from linking Kanye West to a mentorship role at a kids’ talent show, but GRAMMY Awards and chart-topping albums don’t come without hard work and talent.
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“Be yourself,” Lewis said of what Mr. West could teach those performing at Radio City Thursday. “Never be afraid, just like Hoda (Kotb), to be the same person you are when you wake up when you’re on that stage. If you carry that energy that you have on the stage in to your real life, your confidence levels will be the same in both areas.”

The “Today” host, along with stars from Broadway and The Rockettes, also serve as mentors to those participating Thursday.

“I love Garden of Dreams because they bring you people who are the same on the camera and off the camera,” Lewis noted of her colleagues. “I think it’s really important for the kids to see that as well because they’re going to meet Hoda, and then they’re going to watch her and say, ‘Wow! That’s the same woman I met!’

“It’s really great energy for the kids to have, on-and-off the clock.”

The Garden of Dreams Talent Show will feature children found through its 25 partner organizations that are facing difficulties, such as extreme poverty or homelessness. The event takes place on Thursday at Radio City Music Hall, and is free to the public. It kicks off at 7 p.m.

In Friday’s Weekend Scoop, InStyle Magazine Senior Editor Sharon Clott Kanter called in to chat about a new movie, ‘Dope,’ executive produced and music supervised by Pharrell Williams. We also talked about Laura Marano, a Disney star who was recently signed to Big Machine, the same label as Taylor Swift.

Photo: instagram.com/lauramarano

Photo: instagram.com/lauramarano


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The timing was perfect. I was able to help a great cause and in the process, get over the fact that I was turning 30.

The fine folks at Make-A-Wish reached out and asked if I was interested in having someone on my show to promote Urban Mudder. The race is Tough Mudder’s cousin, and will be held on Randall’s Island July 25. Urban Mudder has teamed up with Make-A-Wish, naming it the competition’s official charity. This makes it super-easy for someone to start a team and donate all of the money they raise to the most-worthy cause.

Make-A-Wish grants the wish of a child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition in the United States and its territories, on average, every 38 minutes. The Metro New York and Western New York chapter touches the life of a kid every 10 hours. From priceless trips to encounters with celebrities, Make-A-Wish truly brightens the lives of children, and inspires those around them.

Make-A-Wish’s Alumni Team Captain is 15 year-old Amanda. She is a Wish Kid – after being diagnosed with sickle cell disease, Amanda’s wish was to go to the Dominican Republic. Make-A-Wish flew her family there for Christmas!
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Amanda, along with Tough Mudder’s VP of Event Development, Ashley Ellefson – stopped by “Ralphie Tonight” to talk about Make-A-Wish and the big event on July 25. You can check out our conversation below.

For my 30th birthday, which was on June 6, I’m assembling an Urban Mudder team to complete the race and raise money for Make-A-Wish. Sign up for Urban Mudder and join #TeamRalphie. Use the promo code MAWURBANNYC15 to receive 15% off. Please note that the registration fees do not go to Make-A-Wish.

However, all the money raised from this Crowdrise page will. My goal is $2,000. I’m asking in lieu of a Facebook or Twitter post, or gift, that you please donate to our team. Every penny of your donation will help kids that are battling life-threatening medical conditions live out a wish. They may want to be a pop star for a day. They might want to meet their favorite celebrity. Maybe they just want their bedroom renovated. Make-A-Wish makes it happen, and I hope we can all contribute to the joy that they bring to these families’ lives.

Because I’m turning the big THREE-OHH (eek), I’m suggesting a $30 donation. To be honest, I’d be just as happy with $3. Whatever you can afford. Thanks so much for your time and generosity, and for helping Make-A-Wish. See you July 25!

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In this week’s edition of “Trend Hungry Tuesday” – Resident Fashionista Jessie Holeva talked about a trend she saw on the red carpet of The Tony Awards – pleats.

Visit Trend Hungry to find the latest fashion 411 on a skinny budget, and catch Jessie every Tuesday evening on “Ralphie Tonight.”

Photo: https://instagram.com/ashleytisdale/

Photo: https://instagram.com/ashleytisdale/

In this edition of “Weekend Scoop,” Hello! Magazine.com Lifestyle Editor Jordi Lippe called in to talk about George Clooney, Rumer Willis and the upcoming Tony Awards. Clooney recently took his wife Amal back to where he grew up in Kentucky, while Willis spoke with the media outlet and Bennett was spotted at the musical, “An American In Paris,” before the weekend.

Photo: twitter.com/whatupitsusan

Photo: twitter.com/whatupitsusan


Perhaps it was not merely a coincidence that on the week I turn the big 3-0, I interviewed a gentleman that gave me one of the biggest breaks of my young career.

Of course at the time, he wasn’t trying to throw some 20 year-old know-it-all living in Scranton, Penn. a bone; rather he was attempting to help elect Barack Obama to the White House. And we all know how that story ends.

David Plouffe re-wrote the history books and how-to manuals on elections in the 21st century as President Obama’s Campaign Manager in 2008. He now serves as the Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy for the car service Uber. On the app’s fifth anniversary of existence, Plouffe made the media rounds, including a phone call on “Ralphie Tonight,” to chat about the present state of the company and what the future holds for it.

“UberPOOL, our car pooling service, is only in four cities now,” Plouffe explained. That particular feature allows different users to share the same car as opposed to calling separate cars; benefits to the consumer include lower rates. “We want to bring that to as many cities as possible because it’s cheaper transportation, the driver makes more money because they’re always on a trip and it really can help reduce congestion and reduce emissions and pollution.”

Of course in addition to expanding services within the cities in which Uber already operates, the company also has its eyes set on breaking in to new markets, both domestically and internationally. The app can be used in 58 countries – yet many major cities in New York State don’t have Uber.

“One good example is Upstate New York,” Plouffe said (born in Niagara Falls, N.Y., I was quick to refer to my neck of the woods as Western New York). “We’d love to get in to Binghamton and Buffalo and Syracuse and Albany; places by the way that don’t have a lot of public transportation options. We think we can help cut down on drunk and distracted driving.”

Another stated goal of Plouffe’s is to break up the monopolies that taxi and black car companies have in certain cities. Las Vegas was a topic of conversation; both Uber and Lyft will be allowed to operate in Vegas starting next month.

“(Monopolies) don’t foster innovation. They don’t serve the public,” Plouffe lobbied. “But what you see is most people who use Uber are making a choice not to drive themselves. So it’s not that it’s a small pie that’s now going to be divvied up between Uber and taxi; the overall pie grows.”

Regarding Vegas, Plouffe said he believes Uber will see business from not just The Strip but the surrounding suburbs; people that he claims can’t access a taxi as easy because they’re all located in one central place.

Oh, and regarding that big career break: I lived in Northeastern Pennsylvania and covered both the Democratic Primary and General Election for my radio station. My perseverance at the campaign rallies paid off: then-Senator Obama’s camp began throwing a number of celebrity surrogates my way. Suddenly this kid who had been in Scranton for just over a year had the likes of Cynthia Nixon, Fran Drescher, Adam Levine, Maggie Gyllenhaal and more calling in to his show. Those interviews gained me national press, which led to my show entering syndication. That set the groundwork for my eventual move to the biggest media market in the country.

“Well that’s a great story,” Plouffe responded when I filled him in. “I’m glad we could provide that opportunity.”
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And you can say that the Wilkes Barre/Scranton market has been good to Plouffe. This past Febraury, over seven years after NEPA helped elect President Obama and Scranton’s own Vice President Joe Biden, the area became the latest to join Uber.

In honor of #ThrowbackThursday, here are a few of the aforementioned interviews from 2008!

Episode four of the podcast features an in-depth chat with Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind – covering the band’s next and final LP as well as 3EB’s upcoming tour with Dashboard Confessional.
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Plus, find out what Jenkins and Lady Gaga have in common, and listen as Jenkins performs the band’s new single acoustically for the first time ever. The front man also gave the acoustic treatment to the hit, “Jumper,” and explained how the meaning of the song has changed for him.

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In this week’s edition of “Trend Hungry Tuesday” – Resident Fashionista Jessie Holeva talked about a chic way to rock your jacket.

Photo: instagram.com/ddlovato

Photo: instagram.com/ddlovato


Visit Trend Hungry to find the latest fashion 411 on a skinny budget, and catch Jessie every Tuesday evening on “Ralphie Tonight.”

In our second week of “Weekend Scoop,” an old friend called the show – GOTHAM Entertainment Editor Juliet Izon, who talked about the newly-opened “Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition.” The exhibit brings visitors through a week at ‘SNL,’ from writing the show on Monday to performing it Saturday night. Izon attended the premiere party, and also chatted about the recent GOTHAM cover that featured the entire cast.

Photo: Robert Ascroft/Niche Media

Photo: Robert Ascroft/Niche Media


Check out our chat with Juliet and PIX 11’s video on the exhibit below.

In so many ways, Third Eye Blind and Lady Gaga are a lot more similar than it might seem.

For starters, both care deeply about their respective fan base’s experience at a live concert. Hearing 3EB front man Stephan Jenkins talk about the band’s live set conjured up thoughts of Gaga looking out for her “Little Monsters.”

“I’m always watching the audience, because they’re like this group of people that are doing their own thing,” Jenkins noted during an interview on “Ralphie Tonight.” Third Eye Blind is set to tour with Dashboard Confessional this summer; the trek already has two sold-out dates in the tri-state area with a third, June 14 at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, on sale now. “When I’m doing shows, I’m stoked to be here; seeing what you guys are gonna do. Like, I’m part in their thing as well. Everybody’s invited, but (the fans) make their own culture out of it.”

And also like Gaga, speaking to or about culture is something Jenkins has never shied away from. Matter of fact, Third Eye Blind was raising awareness about suicide prevention and the acceptance of people’s differences long before “Mother Monster.” The most prominent example of this is the 1998 hit “Jumper,” which was inspired by a friend of Jenkins’ who committed suicide by jumping off of a bridge in San Diego. The friend was gay and a victim of bullying.

“The song is kind of a noir, because it’s really talking to somebody who is already dead,” the lead singer explained. “So this is kind of what you would say (to him).
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“When I wrote it, there was this kind of darkness to it. But now when I sing it, it feels exalted, and you see the audience… they sing most of it, I kind of let them sing it… and you can see this release. So I find a lot of joy in that song now. Maybe that’s bouncing back and reflecting the times.”

“Jumper” was on 3EB’s self-titled debut in 1997, and certainly the way in which we talk about suicide and the LGBT community has changed since then. But what hasn’t changed in the past 18 years? The music industry as a whole is completely different. That was clearly seen in Gaga’s second album cycle when online retailer Amazon offered it at a deeply discounted price. Jenkins is taking it a step further, stating that for all intents and purposes, music is now “free,” so 3EB’s upcoming album will be its final proper LP release. Jenkins said the band will simply post singles after Dopamine drops.

“Artists are not getting paid from the streaming services they have, so far,” Jenkins pointed out. “We’ve been doing LPs; I find that process to be very difficult and I think (the change) is just going to create more interaction and just more happiness for me that when I write a song, then I record it, gift to the universe, there it goes.”

Jenkins isn’t sure how the new model will affect future touring plans, but he seems excited to figure it all out. And speaking of touring, that brings us back to yet another way in which 3EB and Gaga are similar – they alternate use of the same tour bus.

“I don’t have any stories to tell (about Gaga). None of that my friend!” Jenkins joked, although he did reveal that she doesn’t leave the bus a mess.

“She’s quite fastidious. (It’s) well kept.”

And Jenkins?

“No. But I have someone who tidies it for me!”