For our first day inside Westwood One’s Backstage at the 2016 American Music Awards, we chatted with Andy Grammer on his Thanksgiving plans, Tinashe on working with Britney Spears and We The Kings’ Travis Clark on covering a song from the hit-musical “Hamilton.” Check out the photos, video and audio interviews below!





Fresh off of raising $40,000 for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation by running the New York City Marathon, Will Reeve stopped by to chat with me about his new show on MSG and growing up as the son of “Superman” and a die-hard New York Rangers Fan.
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“The MSG Hockey Show” premieres Friday at 10:30 pm, after the Rangers game, on MSG.

Peter Engle, Executive Producer of “Saved By The Bell” and co-creator of “Last Comic Standing” talked about his hit TV shows, personal journey and new book, “I Was Saved by the Bell: Stories of Life, Love, and Dreams That Do Come True.”

Last weekend was of the long variety for me; with an abundance of vacation to use before the end of the year, it won’t be the final time that happens in 2016 either.

It was also the last weekend before I began one of the craziest but also most enjoyable stretches of my year: flying to Los Angeles to cover the “American Music Awards” and then back to New York for the “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.” So I knew that over the course of the three days I needed to find time to rest, run a few errands and work out.


While completing all of the above, I also decided to try something new on Friday night: I got a massage. My buddy Nick is a former massage therapist, so I called him for some advice on where to go and what to look for price-wise. I ended up choosing the performance massage at my local Equinox, which was the perfect way to wind-down from a day that included a 5.6 mile run.


On Saturday I got another run in before hopping aboard NJ Transit to pay Newark a visit. My Sabres were in town to play the Devils and even though I’ve adopted the Devils as my local team (I mean c’mon, they gave me a jersey with my name on it!), I had to show up to support the blue and gold. Yes, New Jersey won but me along with my colleague Dan and his son Justin had a great time at the game. Our seats weren’t too shabby either. Big thanks as always to Kerry and the Prudential Center for having us!

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


The weekend wrapped with, you guessed it, another run – followed by a Football Sunday and a trip to H&M to pick-up a few last-second items for the trip west. It was a very productive weekend, which was perfect, because I had a very busy week waiting for me.

Gold medalist, Final Five member, “Dancing With The Stars” contestant and New Jersey native Laurie Hernandez called in to my show Thursday night ahead of her homecoming show Friday at the Prudential Center in Newark. In between “DWTS” and all of the other opportunities she’s receiving as a 16 year-old Olympian, the Old Bridge-born star is on tour with the “Kellogg’s Tour Of Gymnastics Champions.” Buy tickets to Friday’s show here.

Photo: USA Gymnastics / John Cheng

Photo: USA Gymnastics / John Cheng

Hernandez talked about coming home, touring the country, competing on the Olympics and on “DWTS” as well as if she’s started thinking about college or the 2020 Olympics.

I sat there across from Charlie Heaton inside a room at The Ritz-Carlton in the Battery Park neighborhood of Manhattan. It was just me, the “Stranger Things” star and my audio recorder. On top of the success from the hit Netflix series, the 22 year-old was running the gauntlet on a full day of press to promote “Shut In,” his breakout role on the silver screen. He stars in the film alongside Naomi Watts.

This guy isn’t even a trained actor! But a series of hard work and lucky breaks found him here, at the fanciest of hotels, talking with me.
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So what is his life like right now?

“Yeah, I mean… life is great. Life is really great,” he replied, taken aback by the question, almost at a loss of words to describe what’s happening in his world at the moment. “Stranger Things” season two is on the horizon and he also just filmed a movie in Mexico that’s slated for a 2017 release. “Life is exciting and changing very fast.”

That could be a bit of an understatement. It wasn’t that long ago when Heaton was unknown in the entertainment industry, submitting audition after audition at the encouragement of his agent. Nothing stuck, until “Shut In” did. Then came “Stranger Things.” And now he’s living out a dream that people spend their whole lives chasing.

“From this movie is where it kind of all catapulted,” he explained of “Shut In,” crediting director Farren Blackburn with essentially giving the actor his big break. “The last two years has been a bit of a roller coaster ride.”

Part of that ride has included working alongside Winona Ryder in the Netflix series and Watts in the new film, which hits theaters Friday.

“With acting, I’ve been very fortunate that every time I’ve been on a set, I’ve felt like I’ve had a lot of support from actors,” he mused when I asked about sharing the screen with Watts. “We would do a scene and it’s my coverage which means the camera is on me, not her. And she would give exactly as much as she did when the camera was on her.

“It was very calm. I was nicely brought in to it and almost mothered in to the world of acting.”

Watts plays Mary Portman, a psychiatrist who herself is also receiving treatment. She and her husband decide to send her stepson Steven (Heaton), away to receive help for what they believe is a mental issue. The father drives his son and on the car ride, they get in to an accident. Portman’s husband dies and her stepson is left paralyzed.

The thriller takes a number of twists and turns from there as Portman tries to care for her son and also rescue a young boy before he disappears.

As for Heaton, he is preparing for season two of “Stranger Things” as Jonathan Byers, the older brother of the missing Will Byers.

“It’s wonderful but nobody expected it to blow up like this,” he admitted. “What shocked me the most is how people have reacted online to it. It seems like for a good, solid three months it’s all that anyone’s been talking about.”

Heaton is also getting used to people recognizing him on the street. Fittingly, he told me this as the publicist walked in to the room to wrap our interview; two things that he will no doubt grow accustomed to over this next year.

The common thread between my last two weekends lies in the spectacular, breathtaking views I took in. It’s one of the many benefits living in the world’s greatest city, with so many great places to travel to an hour or two away.

But that’s where the similarities begin and end. When I drove up the Hudson Valley a few weeks ago, it was part of a free-and-open weekend I had following a party that was cancelled. This past weekend, it was a 9 am wake-up call to get down to Battery Park City by 10 am so that I could interview Charlie Huston, a star in Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and the new Naomi Watts thriller “Shut In.”

Like I said though, the view… still fantastic.


I attempted to get a quick jog in afterwards but my body was a bit worse-for-the-wear given my early call time and lack-of-sleep. Plus, I had to meet my friend Shaina at The Pennsy for a 3 p.m. lunch. We munched on delicious vegan sandwiches from The Cinnamon Snail before setting off on an impromptu walk. We started in midtown, went through Chelsea to the West Village, over to Greenwich Village and in to NoHo, then down to SoHo and back to Battery Park City. On my second trip downtown of the day, I actually walked the park in addition to seeing Brookfield Place Mall and The Oculus for my first time.


And, that sunset… the final one before Daylight Saving Time kicked in. My goodness.


Shaina was off to screen the new Harry Potter spinoff, and I ended up at a couple of my favorite downtown sports bars: Warren 77 in TriBeCa and Kelly’s in the East Village, drinking a few Blue Lights and cheering my Sabres on to victory.

The sports-theme poured in to Sunday, when John Foxx and I hopped over the George Washington Bridge and over to MetLife Stadium. The tailgate in the non-permit lot awaited us, followed by a long walk to the Stadium, where we watched the Giants beat the Eagles in a pivotal division game.


It was a great game… and the view wasn’t so bad either.

Have you ever walked in to a place, surveyed the area and concluded that someone may have literally picked it up, turned it upside down and then placed it back on its right side?

#TBT from my first trip to Wrigley Field last year.

#TBT from my first trip to Wrigley Field last year.

This is how I felt at 3 am on Thursday morning as I walked in to Kelly’s, one of my favorite East Village haunts. I’m inherently a fan of Kelly’s because it serves as a home for fans of both my Buffalo Bills and Sabres. The wings (and for that matter, anything in the deep fryer) are delicious and the Blue Light is usually a plentiful.

Kelly’s is an interesting spot for a couple of reasons, one being that in addition to housing Bills and Sabres faithful, it also backs the Chicago Cubs and Bulls. So when the Cubs made the World Series, I knew exactly where to go and watch the game. Matter-of-fact, that is what I did for Sunday’s Game 5, a Cubs win in Wrigley.

Of course I was working during Game 7 but after the game finished, around 3 am, I jetted down to the Lower East Side to see if there were any revelers still celebrating. What I walked in to was a semi-madhouse. Keep in mind; it’s the middle of the week.

Forget stools, people were actually still just sitting right on the bar drinking. Or standing on a bench. You couldn’t find a part of the floor your shoes didn’t stick to. And the Blue Light is usually a plentiful, but the watering hole was actually sold out of bottled beer.

I love Kelly’s. Seriously the only thing that made me upset about any of this was that I wasn’t there when the final out was recorded. In lieu of that, here’s some video via Instagram of the celebration that ensued.

A video posted by yasmina (@yazzyfresh3) on


And what you didn’t see was the crowd OUTSIDE the bar, the width of the building and packed back in to the street.

It must have been memorable, because even at 3 am on a weeknight the place was still buzzing. I stayed for a couple of draft brews and then headed up Avenue A to another establishment that I feel a certain kinship towards: the venerable dive bar Niagara. I mean, I am from Niagara Falls after all.

The night finally ended at Sophie’s, which apparently has been an East Village staple for quite some time, although this was my first visit. There are $4 bottled beers, a pool table and a lot of regulars that like to hang out there, even at 4 am last call on a Thursday morning.

An Uber ride and Seamless bodega order later, my night came to an end. It definitely wasn’t how I had planned to spend my Wednesday night. I guess you could say it got turned upside down.

The original plan last weekend was to attend a colleague’s birthday party, but then said colleague was under the weather and the festivities were cancelled. Suddenly, my final weekend in October was wide-open.

Last year, I spent almost every fall weekend on the road. This year, I was looking to do the exact opposite; minimal planning, light travel and lots of free time. Fall is my favorite time of year, and although I enjoyed all of last year’s adventures, I wanted to try and relax a little more.

New York, and its surrounding areas, is also pretty scenic during autumn. I felt that I didn’t really have a chance to experience that last year. But now a weekend to do exactly that presented itself.

And so, off I went on Saturday morning in a rented Zipcar. I jetted up the West Side Highway, over the George Washington Bridge and on to the Palisades Parkway with an inadvertent detour in to Fort Lee.

My only set-in-stone plan was to make it to the Bear Mountain Bridge, where according to the “I Love NY” tourism website, I would witness fall foliage during its peak weekend. I was about 10 minutes out when I noticed a sign advertising an Oktoberfest happening at the nearby Anthony Wayne Recreation Center, right off exit 17.

I mean, it’s not like I had any other plans.

The quick detour proved to be a great decision. Apparently the celebration happens in this park every weekend from September through the end of October. Beer, German food and live music were plentiful. The views through the wooded valley of the mountain were spectacular.


After scoping out the scene and treating myself to a hot dog, I hopped back in my car and up to the Bear Mountain Bridge. There was parking about a quarter-mile up from the bridge in a scenic overlook area, so I stopped there and took in the view. Then, I made the not-so-smart decision to walk from my car down to the bridge. It was an ill-advised move because on that particular stretch of Route 6 the shoulder is at times non-existent.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Thankfully, I lived to tell the tale and witness the Hudson Valley in all of its glory.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


I capped off the day with a trip to Stew Leonard’s in Yonkers and a pit-stop at my buddy’s house just to drop off his gift and make sure he was doing alright.

It also worked out well because I was able to tell him about this cool Oktoberfest where we should celebrate his birthday next year.

Actress, model and comedian Arielle Vandenberg called in to chat about her new web series, “Car Star,” which is available starting Monday (10/31) on Verizon’s Go90 app. Vandenberg hosts the episodes, which pair user-submitted karaoke videos with stars like Pentatonix, MAGIC! and Lindsey Stirling.
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Vandenberg, who has over 2 million Vine followers, also talked about Twitter’s announcement this past week that Vine would be discontinued.