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Even before a former first family took their grandchildren to see “Sesame Street Live! Let’s Party!” in the city, New Jersey native Ashley Budinick was raving about the crowds.

“The show’s been going amazing,” she told me over the phone last Friday, a few days before Bill and Hillary Clinton took in the production with their grandkids on coincidentally enough, Presidents’ Day. “The crowds and the energy from everyone at The Theater at Madison Square Garden have been awesome.”

Budinick, who hails from Brick, served as the show’s dance captain. It ran from February 9-19 inside the Theater at MSG.

“It was a brand new show,” she said. “I love starting everything from scratch and being a part of that process.

“To come back here to New York City and be able to perform for all of my family and friends and everybody else here who is coming to see the show is something I can’t even describe. I get choked up when I start talking about it because that’s something that you dream of as a kid.”

If there was any downside to it all, it might have been the amount of ticket requests Budinick received, but she handled that with a little assistance from her colleagues.

“I had to ask some friends to help me along the way and lend me some of their tickets as well so that I could accommodate everybody to come,” she revealed. “Everybody loves the show, because there’s so much dancing and there are so many interactive moments.”

She mentioned that at some points of the show, characters even come in to the audience. Thankfully, I’m guessing that if Big Bird and Elmo hadn’t passed Secret Service clearance, we would’ve heard about it by now.

Rihanna turned 30 on Tuesday and to celebrate the superstar’s birthday, I threw it back on the radio show to one of the most embarrassing moments of my career. It was May 2008; my program was only airing in Scranton, Pennsylvania at the time. Good ‘ole Cousin Tony was in town visiting and we had a lot planned – a trip to New York on Saturday to see the Yankees and then a doubleheader on Sunday: PNC Field for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees game against the Pawtucket Red Sox and then up the road to The Pavilion At Montage Mountain for Kanye West’s “Glow In The Dark Tour” featuring N.E.R.D., Lupe Fiasco and Rihanna.

I was also scheduled to interview the “Pon De Replay” singer before she took the stage. Our record label rep, Nicki, brought me and my colleague Adam backstage for our chat. I had a five minute window.

The interview started on a great note; Rihanna was in a fantastic mood. But the worst thing possible happened after one question: the MiniDisc I was using died. I brought backup batteries and extra discs. After I replaced each I attempted to restart the interview. And by the fourth restart, sitting across from *Rihanna,* I made the call that we would just film and use the audio from Adam’s digital camera, which he thankfully brought.

There are a few things I’ll always remember about that experience: how kind Rihanna was, how patient Nicki was, using MiniDisc for the final time in my career and taking up so much time in the process that Rihanna couldn’t do another interview scheduled after mine. She went right from our photo-op to the stage, and slayed it.

The last noteworthy moment came as I walked out of Rihanna’s dressing room. We saw and snapped a photo with her boyfriend, who happened to be there… Chris Brown.

Back in 2016, I was chatting with David Cook during our broadcast backstage at The 58th GRAMMY Awards. That previous November I saw David headline Gramercy Theater, and hung out backstage with him and the legendary Steven Van Zandt after the show. Just a few months after, we were talking about the performance and Cook described to me why of his top 10 shows, at least half of the list is comprised of New York City dates.

“There’s just no pretense,” he explained. “If you’re bad, they’re going to let you know. And if you hit it, they’re going to let you know. I love that honesty.”

Later in the conversation, we were talking about Cook’s pending return to “American Idol,” the show that catapulted him to stardom. While he was in LA that week, Cook was taping a segment for the competition, which was in its final season on Fox. He mentioned running in to another “Idol” alum, Constantine Maroulis. So off the cuff, I asked Cook if he’d ever consider Broadway.

“They are some of the most grandiose productions, they’re amazing,” the singer said of the shows he attended. “If the opportunity came up and it was the right role, hell yeah I’d do it, for sure.”

About two years later, the opportunity came up and the role was right. Billboard broke the story on Thursday that Cook will make his Broadway debut in “Kinky Boots.” He’ll play the role of Charlie Price, the son of the factory owner who takes over his father’s business.

Cook’s run commences April 3 and goes through May 5. His new EP, “Chromance,” is out today (Friday).

Pete Holmes is out to showcase a trait of the comedy world that few outsiders ever experience: compassion.

“I think we’re seeing a little bit of the true side of comedians which is that we are, under whatever gruff exterior there is, pretty sweet people,” Holmes told me in an interview for DISH Network’s DISH Studio to promote season two of his HBO series, “Crashing,” which he co-created and stars in. Holmes quickly added, “That’s not everybody. I’m not crazy. Every group has different types.”

But through this show, which is loosely based around Holmes’ real life, he aims to demonstrate how “this unlikely community shows love in unlikely ways.”

“In my experience, people are rooting for their friends, they band together and they care about each other,” he continued. “And, if that’s not your experience and you’re watching this, maybe get new friends. I mean, that’s not bad advice.”

And ironically enough, while Holmes advises against surrounding yourself with less toxic people, the person most prevalent in his life on-camera for the first two seasons is comedian Artie Lange.

“You might have an idea of Artie, like ‘He probably just cares about himself,’ and ‘He’s just a comedian and they just care about money or success.’

“I have experienced many times in my life, with Sarah (Silverman) in real life, with Artie on the show, is that these people can open up to you. And I love sharing that secret.”

Season two of “Crashing” is currently on HBO, with new episodes airing every Sunday night.

When you ask Vance Joy about the celebrities he encountered while touring with the world’s biggest pop star, the first people he brings up are Taylor Swift’s backup dancers. Then Joy will mention the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team and eventually you’ll get a funny anecdote about telling his friend’s father that he once met Julia Roberts.

That is Joy in a nutshell. He’s a tall, good-looking guy with an Australian accent that can sing and play guitar; he can effortlessly command any room he’s in. The artist has a successful album with a big hit already under his belt and he played stadiums across the country with the aforementioned Swift. Yet none of it has seemed to affect Joy much. The singer, nee James Keogh, is still a kind and unassuming person who will even on occasion (and by accident) introduce himself by his birth name.

Joy is blessed with many talents, one being the ability focus on what matters and not take the rest of it too seriously.

“The most important thing is just songwriting and dedicating a lot of time and focus to the craft,” Joy responded when I asked what he learned from his first album that he’s bringing in to “Nation Of Two,” due out February 23. “It can be hard and it can be frustrating but you have to keep pushing and the songs will eventually come.”

There are four songs out ahead of the LP, including the lead single “Lay It On Me,” which he performed acoustic for us at Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17. Joy noted that the tracks were chosen because of how they represent his body of work, with special attention given to tempo.

“I’m proud of all of the songs, but those are probably the most upbeat,” he explained. “Those are the ones I wanted to show first, and then some of the slower songs I think will sink in to people over time.”

His fans will have a chance to hear them live as well, as shortly after our chat Joy announced a massive world tour, with dates in North America kicking off April 13.

A secret is safe with Long Island’s Hoodie Allen. Just ask his friend, Ed Sheeran.

“I knew for a little bit. I had to keep my mouth shut,” Allen said regarding Sheeran’s recent engagement to longtime girlfriend Cherry Seaborn. “I did a good job too; I think I passed the test of just zipping it up and not letting anyone know.”

There was no pun intended on Hoodie’s zipper comment, nor on his adjective use when describing the couple.

“It wasn’t that much of a shock because they’re perfect together,” the emcee, born Steven Markowitz, said. “I love them both so I was really happy.”

I ran in to Allen on the red carpet of The GRAMMYs outside of Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. The hip-hop artist, who was there alongside girlfriend Sadie Newman, took over Bulova’s Instagram Story for the award show weekend. Bulova is the official timepiece partner of The GRAMMY Awards; it was Allen’s first time attending the event.

“Overwhelming,” he responded when I asked what he thought of spectacle that is a GRAMMYs red carpet. “I don’t know (because) if it’s just cold out or the adrenaline but yeah, this is pretty cool.”

As for what is currently on the artist’s plate, he just wrapped a world tour in December and is currently working on his next mixtape. Allen noted that he’s been bouncing between the road and the studio so there could be both new music and concert dates in store for his fans this year.

So, what happens to all of the championship merchandise printed for the team that doesn’t win the big game? That’s where Good360, a non-profit based in Virginia, steps in. The organization’s CMO, Shari Rudolph, explained its partnership with the NFL to give those shirts, sweatshirts and hats to countries outside the U.S. that need clothing. Rudolph also talked about working with MLB for its World Series and the production differences between the two leagues.

At The 60th GRAMMYs on Sunday, one of the night’s more poignant moments was delivered from a likely source: the live performance of “1-800-273-8255” by Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid. If you caught the trio’s rendition of the single at the MTV Video Music Awards then you knew it would be a can’t-miss part of the show. Just as memorable was Logic’s sermon that he delivered following the piece; he later revealed the Recording Academy asked him to speak there.

Still the song and its success are rather unlikely. It began when Logic, born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, noticed fans on tour and online reacting to his music and story in a way he didn’t expect: by saying it changed or saved their life. The reactions inspired Logic to head in to the studio and channel that energy in to a track that he would eventually entitle with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

“I never thought in a million years thought that that song would take me (to The GRAMMYs),” Logic said at The Garden following the ceremony’s conclusion Sunday night. “I love to make fun music, all types of hip-hop and even over trap beats.

“And I always thought it was something more like that, like a more fun or clubby or happy kind of vibe that would get me on that stage. So I can’t believe that I made a song that I never thought would ever do any of that, just from a place in my heart, strictly for my fans and anybody it could reach – and the fact that it actually reached them… it’s crazy.”

The track was up for “Song Of The Year” and lost to Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” but to Logic, it didn’t seem to matter much.

“I mean, I won. That’s how I feel!” he told me and the rest of the Media Center at The Garden following his performance. “This is insane.”


Bonus: I asked Alessia Cara a few questions following her GRAMMY win for Best New Artist.

Now that I’ve had a few days to process everything, some news and notes from my first ever GRAMMYs red carpet…

– The GRAMMYs red carpet is reminiscent of one for a big movie premiere in that it’s quite expansive, filled with top level stars, chaotic in spurts and covered by outlets of all shapes and sizes. Jayde Donovan and I were holding down the fort for our radio network, Westwood One. We were towards the end of the media lineup – to our left were The Garden social media team and WWD.com. To our right? A Japanese TV outlet that is clearly big across the Pacific because seemingly everyone stopped or attempted to stop and say hi to them.

– Always appreciate Scott Borchetta, the head of Big Machine Label Group, making a few minutes for us. He joked that NARAS had quite the wildcard on their hands sitting country group Midland in the front row. On a more serious note, he thought Taylor Swift had a good chance in both categories she was nominated, especially Best Country Song for writing Little Big Town’s “Better Man.” She came up empty for that along with “I Don’t Want To Live Forever” from “Fifty Shades Darker” in the Visual Media category, one that Borchetta believed is a “flip of the coin.”

– When we flagged Victor Cruz over and he revealed to Jayde that he was presenting the “Despacito” performance, my first thought was, “Oh, the irony!” Of course, it was two seasons ago that Cruz along with Odell Beckham Jr. and other Giants players flew to Miami the week before a playoff game to hang with Justin Bieber in Miami. Not only would the G-Men lose to the Packers, but some would point to the incident as the reason why Cruz wasn’t brought back to the team.

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– Speaking of “Despacito,” I think anyone and everyone who had anything to do with that song and wasn’t named Justin Bieber was on the red carpet. The producers, the artists, the principle songwriter, the guy who opened the studio door… it was incredible!

– The white roses Jayde and I wore were donated by 1800Flowers.com and the whole movement was championed in part by one of our colleagues, Melony Torres – very cool.

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– It always amazes me that sometime the biggest stars are the ones most generous with their time. With that said, it was cool to see Tony Bennett spend a few minutes chatting with Jayde.

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– Loved catching up with Long Island’s own Hoodie Allen, who told me he knew about his buddy Ed Sheeran’s engagement for a whole and to him and those around Ed it came as no surprise. I wonder if Hoodie is in charge of the bachelor party…

– Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife told us that city officials worked hard to get The GRAMMYs to The Garden. Later, when I asked Recording Academy President Neil Portnow about New York as a host city, he went out of his way to mention the administration sang a rather different tune, stating tonight wasn’t the time to address the challenges working with them.

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Although for me, the best part of our interaction with Mr. Mayor was after I shook his hand, when I told the Boston-born lifelong Red Sox fan, “Let’s go Yankees.”

I’m sure the Mayor appreciated it as much as Mr. Portnow’s comments.

Believe it or not, one of the more inspirational moments I experienced on The GRAMMYs red carpet involved interviewing Danny Gokey. You may remember the singer as the third finalist on the eighth season of “American Idol.” After an introduction so vast on a show so popular, it usually becomes difficult for artists to be known for anything other than appearing on the TV competition. That usually leads the contestants to either embrace it or spend the rest of their career attempting to erase it.

Gokey took a path less traveled: a career-reinvention of sorts. However his goal was far deeper than shedding a label or scoring a hit record.

“I got to create from what was on the inside of me at the beginning,” Gokey, standing alongside his wife Leyicet, told me. “What I tried to do was create an impact.

“We’re all created uniquely. I know a lot of times we deal with insecurities like, ‘Oh man, that person is getting a lot more looks than I am,’ but really people have to think, ‘No, what you do – no one else can do.’”

Gokey further explained that by people not conforming to others’ standards and staying true to themselves, they will be able to travel to places never imagined. And for the singer, that place was The 60th GRAMMYs, earning his first career nomination in the Best Contemporary Christian Music category for his album, “Rise.” Gokey attributes the album’s success to his record label, BMG, affording him the freedom to practice what he preached. It serves as yet another example that the most impactful art is the most honest.