Archives For interview

Tori Gregson, a four-year veteran of the famous Radio City Rockettes, called in to chat about the New York Spectacular. The brand new show runs from June 15 through August 7 at Radio City Music Hall. Tickets are on sale now.
nys

A week after John Oliver sent costumed fans to sit in the prestigious Legends Seats behind home plate at Yankee Stadium, the comedian noted that the Bronx Bombers are probably not too happy about the whole promotion.

“I think the Yankees are happy that we’re done,” the HBO host said after noting he did not have any more tickets to give away on his “Last Week Tonight” show. Oliver also stated that he didn’t receive any flack from the Yanks personally, “but yeah, I don’t think they were absolutely thrilled about it.”

This all started before the first pitch of the season. Speaking to a sports talk radio station in New York, Yankees COO Lonn Trost attempted to explain why the Yankees were no longer using “Print-At-Home” tickets. His main reason was to curb fraud; however the front office executive was also unhappy with the low ticket floors set by third-party websites such as StubHub. Eliminating these websites’ ability to buy and distribute tickets at a moment’s notice all-but-guarantees that fans will have to purchase tickets through the Yankees own resale outlet, which is run by Ticketmaster.

In the process of explaining the nuisance of expensive tickets selling well below face value, Trost induced a foot-in-mouth moment by saying that those who typically sit in said expensive seats would be frustrated by fans who don’t normally sit in a premium location.

Enter Oliver, who eviscerated the Yanks’ for the ticketing practice and comment before offering viewers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: tweet the hashtag “#IHaveNeverSatInAPremiumLocation” and you could score two Legends Seats for a quarter, the only condition bring that you had to wear something out-of-the-ordinary to the game.

The once-empty seats behind home were filled on Opening Day. With Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

“Those seats are amazing. Those seats are precious,” Oliver told me on the red carpet ahead of the Garden of Dreams Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall. “And it frustrates the hell out of me to see them empty during every game. It’s embarrassing.”

As a lifelong and diehard Yankees fan, I concur and brought up another point: with the empty seats in the lower bowl due to both ticket sales and the various luxury suites and lounges in to the venue, the entire ballpark is much quieter than “The House That Ruth Built.”

“You’re basically eschewing home field advantage by having just empty seats,” he accurately added. “It must be weird batting with no one shouting for you… so we provided some shouting dinosaurs, sharks and Ninja Turtles. You’re welcome, Yankees.”

And hey, maybe the 27-time World Champions were appreciative. On the last game of the team’s first homestand, the message “Thanks, John Oliver. Everyone is welcome at Yankee Stadium” appeared on the scoreboard.

“(Sitting in Legends Seats) is an amazing experience,” Oliver commented before concluding, “and the f—ing Yankees should open it up to more people!”

#IHaveNeverSatInAPremiumLocation

A photo posted by Last Week Tonight (@lastweektonight) on

Stars from across entertainment and sports showed up to support the kids performing at the Garden Of Dreams’ annual Talent Show. The show offers kids throughout the tri-state area who overcome obstacles the opportunity to perform on the Great Stage at Radio CIty Music Hall.
dreams1
Lending their support and speaking with us on the show’s red carpet included celebrity mentors Damaris Lewis and Nastia Liukin along with Broadway star Jay Armstrong Johnson, Impractical Jokers Joe Gatto and Murr, and HBO host John Oliver.

After revealing finalists for the 2016 Billboard Music Awards on Good Morning America, co-hosts Ludacris and Ciara chatted about the big awards show and the finalists in the night’s biggest category: Top Artist.
luda1
The 2016 Billboard Music Awards air Sunday night May 22 at 8/7c on ABC from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Damaris Lewis stopped by to chat about the upcoming Garden of Dreams Foundation Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall, where kids from throughout the tri-state area will have the opportunity to perform on stage at Radio City.

Lewis also chatted a bit about her recent outing to a Warriors/Thunder NBA game, where her and friend Prince (yes, that one) sat courtside to see Stephen Curry and the defending NBA Champions take on Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City.

The Garden of Dreams Talent Show is Monday, April 11, at Radio City Music Hall. Tickets to the event are free and will be distributed upon entrance in to the venue.
damaris1

As the final field of contestants was narrowed to three ahead of this week’s American Idol series finale, a specific statistic probably came in to focus for Nick Fradiani: the Connecticut-native has a 33 percent chance of being the final man to win the singing competition.

It would have been quite the coincidence considering he was also the first winner from the Northeast.

“I remember when I first got on the show, I found that out,” Fradiani told me earlier this year. “I was like, ‘I’m doomed! I’m never going to win.’”

The Wheaton College graduate never allowed this to affect his performance as he sang his way to the title. A whirlwind of events followed for Fradiani.

“The single was released back in May,” he recalled of the track, “Beautiful Life.” “I did the radio promotion from about May right up until the tour ended.”

Fradiani essentially worked two jobs: promoting his single at radio stations during the day and performing with his fellow Top 5 finalists on the 37 city tour at night. He continued this until September, and then returned to the studio to finish up his album. Now, he’s back at radio with a new single, “Get You Home.”

“It’s the most up-tempo, funkiest song on the whole album,” Fradiani described. “Figures that’s what the label liked! But I loved it, I loved writing it. And there’s a sample in it from Young M.C.”

Fradiani intertwined “If you want it, you got it,” from the 1989 hit “Bust A Move.” The “Idol” winner was 3 and a half years old when the song was released, and busted a move or three this week on the show’s finale.

Also gracing the “Idol” stage one more time: previous winners Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, David Cook and Kris Allen. They and other winners from yesteryear were joined by a slew of finalists who have found success in their own right: from “Daughtry” front man Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert to Broadway star Constantine Maroulis, actress Katherine McPhee and country star Kellie Pickler.

Some stars are so far removed from their time on the show that you might even forget they once competed. But for at least one winner, who will also return to “Idol” this week, that might be an accomplishment in itself.

“The hardest thing about coming off of ‘American Idol,’” Lee DeWyze told me a few years ago, “is coming off of ‘American Idol.’ Everyone’s got a different path.”

And for the show’s second-to-last winner, that statement certainly holds true… literally.

Jamie Lynn Macchia, the current title holder of “Miss New York,” lists her visit to the White House as one of the coolest things she’s done since taking the crown.

“I got to go there after ‘Miss America’ to attend the Childhood Cancer Month Awareness briefing,” she said via telephone from her native Staten Island. “I was actually there, and it’s pretty awesome.”

Macchia’s White House visit came after months of preparation and a two-week stint in Atlantic City to vie for the “Miss America” crown on ABC. Her visit to the President’s home is symbolic for multiple reasons. The distance from Staten Island to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is 213 miles, and that number is the catalyst for the title holder’s current campaign: Run For The White House. The national program works like a marathon in that donors pledge a dollar amount for participants to travel. The difference is that the miles can be traveled in any manner – from running outside to using a stationary bike.

Money raised from the campaign will aid in pediatric cancer research. Run For The White House was started in 2012; Macchia joined it in January and aims to work out her 213 miles by September.

“It culminates with CureFest,” she explained, “which is a big pediatric cancer rally in the middle of September.”

This year’s event will be held in our nation’s capitol on September 17 and 18. The two-day fundraiser includes live entertainment and a candle-light vigil. Last year’s headliners were The Plain White T’s. For more information and to pledge money for Macchia’s miles, click here.

In the time between Parachute releasing its third and fourth albums, the band shrunk from a quintet to a trio. And the fact of the matter is, a lot can happen in two-and-a-half years.

“They got married and had kids,” lead singer Will Anderson responded when I asked what happened to former members Alex Hargrave and Nate McFarland. “It’s been a bit of a transition but it was just time, and the three of us have been friends since high school so we were obviously going to keep going.

“It was a very un-dramatic, sort-of exit. We’re still friends with them.”

When I inquired if this meant that no wedding bells would ring in the near-future for the band mates, I was quickly alerted to keyboardist Kit French’s nuptials, which apparently happened a while ago.

“It’s not for everyone,” French said of the balance between marriage and band life, before Anderson jokingly added, “Kit’s a very mature guy.”

Along with drummer Johnny Stubblefield, Parachute is currently touring behind “Wide Awake,” its fourth LP and first on Vanguard Records. While the label is independent, it’s owned by Concord Bicycle Group, which counts Paul McCartney and the catalog of Frank Sinatra amongst its roster.

Anderson revealed that the band worked primarily with Nathan Chapman on its latest release. Chapman is perhaps best known for his work with Taylor Swift, counting three GRAMMY wins to his credit for “Fearless” and “1989.”

“He was my main go-to,” explained the lead singer. “We talked a lot about this stuff.”

It makes sense given Anderson’s relationship with Swift; back in 2013 he told me the two were “great friends.”

“It’s also fun because she can give me advice on anything our band can possibly be going through; she’s already done it. Even though she’s a little bit younger than us, she’s the biggest artist in the world right now,” Anderson told me during Parachute’s promo run for the band’s third album, “Overnight.”

Do they still keep in touch?

“Distance separates us,” the lead singer said, noting Swift’s New York City apartment and Parachute’s roots in Nashville (although Swift owns property there, along with a slew of other locations). “But she’s great. She’s always been supportive of our band and we love getting advice from her.”

Considering Swift is still one of the biggest artists in the world, who wouldn’t?

The Garden Of Dreams Foundation, Madison Square Garden’s charity that aims to improve the lives of kids facing an array of obstacles across the tri-state area, is preparing for its annual talent show. It is an event that provides children with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform on stage at Radio City Music Hall.

And for that reason, TV personality Hoda Kotb is returning a second time to help out.
hoda1
“This is one of those events that you have to do again. You can’t do it once,” Kotb responded when I asked why she reprised her role of “Celebrity Mentor” alongside the likes of gold medalist Nastia Liukin, model Damaris Lewis, The Rockettes, Broadway star Christina Sajous and hip-hop legend Darryl “DMC” McDaniels. “There are so many events and wonderful charities in New York. This particular one does it exactly right.”

Citing what the participants take from the experience, The Today Show co-host elaborated.

“It transforms lives. It changes the trajectory of someone’s path,” she explained. “You actually can physically watch someone change, and how often does that happen in your lifetime, that you get to watch someone transform right in front of you?”

According to the foundation, over 100 children will participate in the talent show, and each child took a different path to the great stage. For Caroline Waters, she battled Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. The 16 year-old Queens native was diagnosed at age two and began chemotherapy before later receiving a bone marrow transplant from her younger sister, who was just four at the time.

Waters has been cancer-free for 13 years, and chose to perform Andra Day’s “Rise Up” at the event.

“I find it very inspiring,” she said of the track. “It’s such an anthem; everything happens for a reason, so whatever happens, it’ll be OK.”

It’s quite a profound comment from a teenager like Waters who has faced so many trials and tribulations. Yet, her disposition reveals not only how this organization benefits children, but how it also reflects back on to the volunteers.

“I learned that these kids, when you look at the hardships that they have to sort of overcome, you learn that at the base of it we’re all just human beings,” Kotb responded when asked what she took from last year’s talent show. “We all just have basic needs. These kids have such incredible talent and I think sometimes they don’t get a fair shot at it because of where they began.

“I just like this because it puts everyone on the starting line together. Here we all are, together. Now 1, 2, 3: go. That’s how it works, and everyone gets their shot.”

In essence, the talent show gives everyone their own opportunity to rise up.

Haley Reinhart has traveled an interesting path from “American Idol” finalist to independent solo artist. The Chicago-born songstress signed a deal with Interscope after her top 3 “Idol” finish and recorded her debut album “Listen Up!” That would be her only release under the label. Reinhart eventually joined fellow season 10 alum Casey Abrams in Postmodern Jukebox before stumbling upon the next chapter of her career, all thanks to a gum commercial.

“Wrigley and Extra Gum kind of sought me out and had me record the song kind of overnight and it worked out,” Reinhart explained of her new single, a cover of the Elvis Presley classic “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” “It worked out, they put out the commercial, it blew up and now it’s being played on the radio.”
haley
For the most part, Reinhart seems to be enjoying the ride.

“I’d rather things take their own course and their own time to completely fall in to the right place,” she said. “I don’t like anything to be forced. So thankfully in this instance and in a lot of other cases, it’s overnight and you don’t expect it, and those are the greatest gifts.”

Reinhart’s gift to her fans will be the sophomore album “Better,” due out in April.

“I actually had to hold back putting out the album because of all the buzz that’s happened around this single,” she revealed. “It’s been a labor of love for about three years or so now.”

But Reinhart isn’t complaining. After all, there are some things you can’t predict and others you simply shouldn’t force.