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If you thought that Demi Lovato and Iggy Azalea were unlikely to be best friends, then you thought wrong. The two artists met briefly in mid-October, and now Lovato will stand with Azalea as a bridesmaid for her upcoming nuptials to NBA star Nick Young.

On October 10, Lovato posted a photo with Azalea on Twitter along with the text, “Being a super fan at @Vevo’s #VCSFF w @IGGYAZALEA… Next time our butts will take a picture with each other.”

“It was like, quick in passing,” Lovato told me a few weeks later of the encounter before adding, “but she was cool, and I want to do a collaboration for sure.”

When I brought this up last week to the “Really Don’t Care” singer and asked how less than a year later she was “suddenly” a bridesmaid, Lovato started laughing.

“(Azalea’s) so cool and down-to-earth,” she gushed. “I don’t like hanging out with people that are ‘Hollywood.’ Yunno what I mean? You don’t see me hanging around too many people that are ‘scene-y’ or ‘Hollywood’ or whatever.

“She’s just real as f—. The first time we hung out, we went to Target and got gingerbread houses to make and we made gingerbread houses. That’s how chill she is.”

If nothing else, the stars’ admiration for the department store is one that’s documented. Lovato is a brand ambassador for a beauty line sold at Target, and her last album included a store-exclusive bonus track. As for Azalea, she hit up Target (at her request) on the first date with fiancé Nick Young. The couple returned to the store to celebrate their one-year anniversary.

Photo: twitter.com/ddlovato

Photo: twitter.com/ddlovato




Hear the full interview with Demi Lovato on “Ralphie Tonight” Wednesday July 1.

The Garden of Dreams Foundation held its annual Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday. Children from across the tri-state area who are facing obstacles were chosen with the help of partner organizations to perform on the Great Stage at Radio City.

“People need to see the beauty in each person, no matter what situation they’re in,” Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, one of the celebrity mentors to the kids, told “Ralphie Tonight before the show. “That’s what we do here at the Garden of Dreams.”

In addition to the celebrity mentors from across the entertainment industry that helped the performers prepare, a number of other stars showed up on Thursday to lend their support – including “Sopranos” actor Steve Schirripa, Kevin Jonas and Chef Anne Burrell.

“If you have found your path, hopefully much earlier than I did, you know what? Stick to it, and love it,” Burrell said of the advice she usually gives kids. “And if you love it, you’ll be good at it.”
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Other mentors for the show included model Damaris Lewis, The Rockettes and “Today” host Hoda Kotb. The event was hosted by MSG Networks’ Al Trautwig and Jill Martin.

There certainly was no shortage of star power, or inspiring stories. Braeden Hahn is a 14 year-old from Fredon, N.J. He was treated for severe aplastic anemia, but on Thursday when I asked him how he was feeling, that seemed to be the furthest thing from his mind. The singer and guitarist told me he was a little nervous, but excited to perform at Radio City – the largest stage he had yet to grace. Hahn chose to sing John Mayer’s “Gravity.”

“When I was in the hospital, I first heard the song and it just got to me because my sickness was trying to bring me down, just like the gravity, and I wouldn’t let it.”

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.

Former “American Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe is interested in contributing to the show’s final season, set for next year.

“I feel like it’s my baby; I brought it over here (from England),” he told “Ralphie Tonight” on Sunday at the Tony Awards red carpet. “But I don’t know what egos are involved right now.”

Lythgoe produced “Idol” for 11 years, from its start in 2002 to 2013 when both he and fellow EP Ken Warwick were replaced. In a statement following his departure, the TV vet said that he was looking forward to focusing more on his other baby – “So You Think You Can Dance.” That show is currently in its 12th season with a pair of new judges alongside Lythgoe: Jason Derulo and former “Idol” panelist Paula Abdul.
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“A panel of judges isn’t about the individual,” he explained. “It’s about how you sit together. You know, looking at something like ‘The Voice’; it’s fantastic how Blake (Sheldon) and Adam (Levine) really made that work, and anyone that comes in to it now feels very comfortable.

“We’ve three have just got to make it work for ourselves now, and I think over the series we’ll certainly do that.”

“Dance” airs Monday’s at 8 p.m. on Fox.

It’s big business – billion dollar business, to be exact. Perhaps that explains why so many big stars from across entertainment continue to flock to Broadway for producing and/or starring roles. But as evidenced in last Sunday night’s “Tony Awards” broadcast, there is obviously more to the boom than just dollars and cents.

“I think people love live theater,” James Monroe Iglehart told me outside of Radio City Music Hall in New York City on the red carpet. Iglehart took home a “Tony” last year for his current role as “The Genie” in “Aladdin: The Musical.” “There’s something about watching people doing it right in front of you… they are not lip-syncing, there are no special effects, they are just singing and acting and dancing in front of you. There’s an energy to it that cannot be matched.”

That was Iglehart’s way of not only explaining Broadway’s identity, but also its success. Box office revenues climbed to over $1.3 billion this past season.

The earnest seen on stage is clearly admired by all entertainers, including multi-platinum recording artist Josh Groban.

“To me this is such a pinnacle, to be in this theater world, to be up there on the Tony’s stage,” he remarked prior to the show. The American Theater Wing and The Broadway League tapped Groban to perform during the “In Memoriam” portion of the broadcast. “Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be in the theatrical world.”

Others, like TV producer and “So You Think You Can Dance” creator/judge Nigel Lythgoe actually began their careers on the stage.

“I started off as a West End Dancer,” Lythgoe responded when I asked him why he became involved in the revival of “On The Town.” The production earned four nominations, including “Best Revival Of A Musical,” but lost to “The King and I.” “So just being a part of Broadway feels like I’ve sort of come full circle.”

Speaking of full circle, when the topic of “American Idol” was mentioned, Lythgoe reiterated that he would like to take part in the show’s final season next year. The producer, who brought the competition to the States from across the pond, added that he doesn’t know, “what egos are involved.”
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And that is another interesting thing about the red carpet of “The Tony Awards”: egos seem to be checked at the door. Kelsey Grammer, who performed on Broadway long before he came known as “Frasier,” told me that he was lured back to the stage because in his opinion, “Finding Neverland” is “the best show I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“It’s just one of my favorite stories,” said Grammer, who performed on the telecast as his character, Captain Hook. “I was invited to come and seen the out-of-town tryout basically, and I just thought it was breathtaking.”

“Neverland” did not receive a “Tony” nomination, but at least the snub isn’t reflected in the box office numbers; in the week leading up to the award show, the musical tallied over a million dollars in ticket sales. With an influx of theatergoers on the horizon thanks to warmer weather and tourist season, “The Tony’s” may have come and gone, but for the foreseeable future the business is here to stay.

She is no stranger to entertaining millions, whether it is on “TODAY” with Kathie Lee Gifford and a glass of wine or while jamming out to “Uptown Funk” on “Lip Sync Battle.” But on June 18 Hoda Kotb will focus on a small, figuratively and literally, portion of her audience. The TV host is one of a handful of celebrity mentors for the annual Garden of Dreams Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall.

“When I was younger, you come and you walk by Radio City and you look up and you go, ‘Oh my God, it’s Radio City,” recalled Kotb to “Ralphie Tonight” before a rehearsal for the performance. “And then you see The Rockettes, and you see the rest of it… I just think that there’s something about this place.

“But more than that, a lot of great things happen in great buildings and great stages. These kids, who have overcome all kinds of tough things in their life, are standing proud, singing out and it just turns me on.”
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The Garden of Dreams Foundation works with The Madison Square Garden Company to bring once-in-a-life time opportunities like the talent show to children facing obstacles. Joining Kotb to mentor the kids will be model and dancer Damaris Lewis, New York Liberty Forward Essence Carson, The Rockettes, Broadway performer Chrisitna Sajous and Jarod Grimes, who stars in the “New York Spring Specatcular.” The group brings a diversified skill set to the table; however Kotb believes that despite this being a talent show, it is not their talent per se that will takes these participants to the stage at Radio City and beyond.

“I don’t think the successful people are necessarily the most talented or the most educated, or any of those things because I wasn’t either,” the TV personality opined. “I think it’s really the kids who don’t stop. If you have a will and you love it, I think that’s three-fourths of it. Talent doesn’t win. Persistence wins. Perseverance wins.”

The second day of Red Carpet Radio at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards was hectic, as many BBMA finalists, presenters and performers stopped by to chat with “Ralphie Tonight.” Check out some of the photos and conversations below with Hozier, Tori Kelly, Fall Out Boy and more.
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Special thanks to BBMA co-host Ludacris, who also made some time for the show. We chatted with him while he waited for a car to pick him up… in the back of the MGM Grand Arena… on a curb. In Vegas, there is a first time for everything.





A few staples of the Las Vegas scene stopped by Red Carpet Radio at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards to chat with “Ralphie Tonight.”
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Terry Fator won the second season of the NBC competition “America’s Got Talent.” The entertainer just marked his sixth year headlining at The Mirage on The Strip. Fator believes he’ll be there many more years to come. He also gave his thoughts on the end of “American Idol,” noting that he’ll miss it and is happy there are other shows like “AGT” and “The Voice” still on the air.

Carrot Top has been in Vegas for 30 years – he’s spent about the last 10 performing at The Luxor. The comedian is hoping to attend Sunday’s award show, and you might be surprised as to what he is looking forward to. Of course, Carrot Top also quipped about everything from “Fifty Shades Of Grey” to “Deflategate.”

And Robin Leach – a former Channel 7 reporter – needs no introduction. The former “Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous” host dished about his recent chats with Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey regarding their Vegas residencies.

Mariah Carey is back in the headlines, and for the most part it does not have to do with her estranged husband Nick Cannon. The biggest selling female artist of all time recently dropped a single, “Infinity.” It is the only new track on the album #1 to Infinity. The compilation will feature the latest song plus all 18 of Carey’s number one hits. It drops May 18.
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Carey also kicked off “Mariah #1 To Infinity,” her new residency at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace, on May 6 to rave reviews. She’ll perform on the Billboard Music Awards, which are also in Sin City, on May 17.

So on Thursday we flashed you back to January of 2014, when Ms. Carey stopped by “Ralphie Tonight” and recalled the time Jermaine Dupri helped her pick “Touch My Body” as a single. Of course, tt went on to be a number one hit.

Marc Scibilia stopped by “Ralphie Tonight” to talk about his forthcoming, Butch Walker-produced album Out Of Style, his tour with James Bay and much more. The Nashville-native grew up, like me, in Western New York. So of course, there was a bit of reminiscing and catching-up to do (Marc and I have known each other for a while).
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It is shaping up to be a big 2015 for the singer/songwriter. Earlier this year, his cover of the classic “This Land Is Your Land,” ended up on Jeep’s Super Bowl commercial. Outside of the Halftime Show, it was the most “Shazaamed” moment of the night. Scibilia’s debut LP drops this summer. Check out our chat and a video of Marc performing the first single, “How Bad We Need Each Other” below.