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Because I was traveling Monday morning, the fine folks at HLN’s “The Daily Share” were kind enough to invite me to sit in on Tuesday’s panel. Topics ranged from George Zimmerman to Ikea to Nicki Minaj to National Coffee Day.

Trying out a new web segment called, “2 Slices & A Story.” Pretty self-explanatory. Our first edition features a couple of formidable cheese slices from Don Pepi Pizza in Penn Station and the talented David Cook.

David Cook stopped by “Ralphie Tonight” to chat about his new album Digital Vein and how it got him back to a place where he once again loves to write and record music. Cook was candid about how the death of his brother affected his music, and why he’s in a really good place at the moment. He also took fan questions and talked about possibly returning to “American Idol” next season.

I spent another Monday on HLN’s “The Daily Share” talking about #MondayMotivation, #AskTrump, the Dallas Cowboys and Sunday night’s Emmys. Fun times as always; big thanks to HLN for having me!

Betty Cantrell won the 95th edition of the Miss America competition last Sunday in a live telecast on ABC from Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. Cantrell did not celebrate her Miss America win with an extravagant dinner or over-the-top bash, although she attended the pageant’s after-party for about five minutes.

But after showing face, Cantrell retreated to a more intimate post-crowning setting.

“My after-party was in my hotel suite with my family and friends,” Cantrell revealed in an interview that aired Wednesday on “Ralphie Tonight.” “That’s pretty much how I celebrated; by eating like little cheese and crackers.”

For Cantrell though, the real celebration was when the crown went atop her head. In person, the crown is quite stunning; even the box it travels in looks elegant. There are four points on the crown signifying service, scholarship, success and style. And while Cantrell is looking forward to her $50,000 scholarship and the success and style that the title tows, she was quick to point out first and foremost that the next year for her will be one of service.
“Miss America has to have a servant’s heart and be service-oriented,” she noted. “I love being a servant to the people and catering to the children that I so dearly love.”

“Healthy Children, Strong America,” is the platform that Cantrell plans to speak about in schools around the country. As Miss America, the Georgia-native will also represent the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.

And she will travel, a lot. Cantrell’s schedule won’t keep her in the same city for more than three days. But the Broadway-hopeful, who wowed the likes of Brett Eldridge and Vanessa Williams with her Opera performance during the talent portion of the show, doesn’t seem to mind.

“I’ll just get sleep next year!” she joked, while also noting that “home base,” if you can even call it that given her schedule, will be Atlantic City.

Maybe one day she will call New York home. But Cantrell has much to accomplish before she can entertain those thoughts. Besides, the next stop on her press tour was a place she would be visiting for the first time, and also one associated with stardom and big dreams.


Monday night’s interview with Justin Bieber is creating headlines both in the States and abroad.

Everyone is talking about it for the same reason: during my chat with Bieber I mentioned 17 year-old Shawn Mendes. I find a few similarities in the two: both achieved success as teenagers, both are talented and good-looking singers who can play guitar and both are from Southern Ontario. Mendes scored a number one album this year and has a single climbing the Pop chart. The two apparently have a number of mutual friends and were even both up in the same Much Music Video Award category back in Canada.

But, now infamously, Bieber responded to an inquiry I made about the up-and-coming singer by asking, “Who’s Shawn Mendes?”

The media is having a field day with this one. Billboard, MTV News, VICE, USA Today, E! News, Entertainment Weekly and SPIN all covered it.

Then Mendes appeared Wednesday morning on BBC Radio 1’s Breakfast Show with Nick Grimshaw. Audio of their exchange is below. The original interview hit 100,000 views in 24 hours.

And in a plot twist, last night Bieber began following Mendes on Twitter.

When I can get on cable news and work in both Buffalo Bills AND Syracuse University references, it’s a good day.

Here are some highlights of my appearance on HLN’s The Daily Share Monday. We also chatted about Sunday’s Miss America competition.

The reports on Justin Bieber, and there were plenty of them, said that he was simply hanging with the wrong crowd. That explained the rumors of drug use and parties, the run-ins with the law and the rather reckless behavior.

In an interview that aired Monday on “Ralphie Tonight,” Bieber admitted as much.

“I just had pretty bad people around that were just taking advantage of my generosity and taking advantage of my sweet soul,” a low-key and relaxed Bieber spilled to me while donning a black sweatshirt, hood pulled up above a black baseball cap. “I just thought that that’s how it was supposed to be. They were saying the right things.”

But Bieber, in perhaps one of the many ways that he has changed, stops short of placing all of the blame on others.

“I was young and naïve,” he admitted before adding, “and just trusting people and got my heart broken.

“So then I was just like, f— everybody.”

But now the 21 year-old is surrounded by a group of people he feels is looking out for his best interests. I ask if those people, such as his mother Pattie Mallette and manager Scooter Braun, were always there but simply not paid any attention to until now.

“For sure, but it has to be on your time,” he replied. “They were poking me and poking me saying, ‘Justin! Justin!’ (But) until I really wanted to listen, it wasn’t going to happen.”

But this journey, which he explains involves no longer internalizing what people say but rather reflecting it back out in to the world as a positive light (his words, not mine), is what Bieber attributes in part to scoring his first chart-topper on the Billboard Hot 100. “What Do You Mean?” debuted at number one, with 337,000 downloads sold in its opening week.

“I want it to be all about the music but you want to see people win when they’re genuine and authentic,” he stated. “I was in a place before where I was just trying to figure it out.”

It seems that at least to this point, Bieber has done that, although even he warns that inevitably he will “fall again.” But right now his focus is on a new album, due out this November, which he says is “40% done.”

“Like the album is pretty much complete,” he elaborated. “I just have so much touching up to do, but it’s going good.”

By “touching up,” Bieber means that he’ll go back to some songs after he sits with them for a few weeks and re-cut lines and/or add background vocals. The Canadian-born singer said there will be features on the LP, but would not reveal who. However when I asked him what artists are influencing him positively, one came to mind.

“I really like Ed Sheeran,” he responded. “I think he’s a really good dude too.”

And perhaps that is just an example of Bieber “reflecting” his light of positivity towards others. Ultimately though, he will be judged by his actions and not words. Yet even his harshest detractors might admit that the pop star sounds like someone who has experienced a life-transforming moment or two.

Justin Bieber sat down for an interview with “Ralphie Tonight” – in this clip, he talks about people that he says took advantage of him.

The full interview airs Monday 9/14 at 7 p.m. Get more at!

It seemed like a good idea: Mike Allan was interviewing Shawn Mendes in Midtown, so I said to ask Mendes a question about more fans baking him chocolate and blueberry muffins since our February interview.

So much for that.