“Extra TV” New York City Host AJ Calloway called in after covering the the infamous Met Gala and speaking with everyone from Tom Brady to La La Anthony.

Chuck Wepner told me he is just happy to still be alive so that he can tell his story – and now it will be shown on the silver screen for all to see.

Wepner is a former professional heavyweight boxer who was known as “The Bayonne Bleeder” because he had one of the sport’s bloodiest faces. Most notably to that point, there was a fight between Wepner and Sonny Liston in which the New Jersey heavyweight required 72 stitches to his face.

But the match that changed Wepner’s life was his 15 round battle with the Heavyweight Champion of the World, Muhammad Ali. That fight yielded a $100,000 payday for the Marine Corps veteran (the biggest check of his career, although Wepner insisted to me that he would’ve fought Ali for free) and inspired a young man named Sylvester Stallone to write a screenplay called “Rocky.”

And in the new film “Chuck,” out Friday, the world gets to see not only the real-life fighter who inspired the iconic movie series but also the effect that it all had on his personal life – filled with ups and downs that were fueled by sex, alcohol and drugs and led to marital issues and a stint in jail.

However at Wepner’s insistence, the film needed to be family-friendly. He attributes that characteristic along with the task of finding a good lead character in why it took 12 years to make. And it wasn’t until Liev Schreiber that Wepner knew they had their man.

“It was actually (Liev) who asked to play the part,” recalled Wepner on the second floor of the Loews Regency on New York City’s Upper East Side. “Taking no money up-front, everything on the other end. That’s how much he loves the movie.”

Wepner also revealed that Naomi Watts, who plays his third wife, signed up for the same deal.

“They wanted to do this movie,” he said. “They put their heart and soul in it and that’s why the movie is good.”

Schreiber’s acting chops impressed the boxer, right down to his in-ring dialect. Wepner even allowed that the “Ray Donovan” star has a little New Jersey in him.

“He’ll use a little slang now and then, if you know what I mean,” the boxer joked. “He likes to drink. He likes to party. He likes the girls.

“Yunno, that’s me!”

I started last week with an expired passport. I ended it in Sint Maarten celebrating the marriage of my buddy Mark and his lovely wife Sarah.

Obviously I knew about the wedding for a while and I was aware that my passport would lose its validity in February. The problem was that my passport actually had the wrong birthday on it (apparently a common mistake if you go to a post office for the application) and I waited until a week before the expiration to mail it in.

Our government was kind enough to mail it back with a new application. I called, discussed my options with an agent and eventually decided my best bet was to renew at the Passport Office in Manhattan, which typically turns around a new one in 24 hours. Yes, you read that correctly.

And so last Friday morning I boarded a non-stop flight to the island. I proceeded to eat, drink, swim and dance with old and new friends. It was a nice escape; my first destination wedding and hopefully not my last.

The four most common reactions to my Instagram posts from the weekend:

1.) “Your photos looked awesome!”
Thanks – definitely not too difficult when you’re on an island in the Caribbean.


2.) “Were those planes really flying that close to the beach?”
They sure were. That’s Maho Beach, recommended to me by multiple people. Me and two other friends took a cab there for a few drinks and to watch the planes land. Quite a sight!

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3.) “I can’t get over you watching the Yankees at the beach.”
I mean, this shouldn’t surprise you.

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4.) “Do you always drink Bloody Marys?”
Yes – they were even referred to on the trip by one person as my “accessory.”

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I mean, worse things could be associated with me.

Following the news that Sony Music was severing ties with producer Dr. Luke, attorney Jill Stanley of ProofWithJillStanley.com called up to weigh in on possible motives and what this would mean for Dr. Luke and Kesha moving forward.

Flo Rida called in to chat about his upcoming performance at the Opening Night Party of the Greenwich International Film Festival and his latest hit on the radio, “Cake” which features 99 Percent.

Ocean Park Standoff is comprised of an unlikely but talented group. You have drummer Pete Nappi, who was born on Long Island. Then there’s the lead singer Ethan Thompson who is from Montana. And rounding-out the group, the British-born and Upper West Side-raised Samantha Ronson. The three linked up through writing sessions, although they first got a kick out of responding to that question by “Tinder” and then categorizing the aforementioned sessions as “playdates.” A self-titled EP later and break-out single later and the trio finds themselves on late-night TV and as a supporting act for Third Eye Blind’s upcoming tour.

“We were talking about what was going on in our lives and in the world,” Thompson recalled regarding the creating of that single, “Good News.” “Samantha had a chord progression and then pretty much we just started off with the chorus right away and it just took off from there.”

Certainly Thompson was alluding to the country’s political climate; Ronson was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton, DJ-ing rallies and using her influence on social media to get the vote out for her. The twin sister of fashion designer Charlotte and younger sister of GRAMMY Award-winning producer Mark, Samantha is no stranger to the spotlight both through her own work and by relation. Her step-father is founding Foreigner member Mick Jones, who she casually mentioned during a recent performance with the band.

“This is my dad’s guitar that I borrowed, actually,” she told me. I asked if it was a last-second move and she quickly replied, “No, last night. I planned it ahead of time!”

What’s funny is that it’s not the first time I’ve seen this group fly by the seam of their pants in the city. During the band’s first ever New York City performance inside the Lower East Side’s Rockwood Music Hall, Nappi’s drum kit broke during the set. But the band said it never affected their show, or their mood. And it’s probably that disposition, along with their individual talent, that will yield a bit more good news for 2017.

So how great is this Yankees’ season going so far?

Ok, let’s hope I didn’t jinx it.

I had the pleasure of attending the home opener up in the Bronx last month with one of my best friends along with my sister and some of her co-workers. Then I returned to the Bronx for the first Saturday and Sunday games at the Stadium this season. Chances are by now you know that any weekend me and the Yankees are both in the city, I’ll be heading north to the BX.

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For the home opener and the Saturday game I bought the newly-installed Pinstripe Pass. This ticket is really a response to my generation’s desire to share unique experiences with friends both in-person and online.

What I’ve always loved about the new Stadium since it opened in 2009 is the open corridors and standing room only areas, including the Batter’s Eye Café, which offers an awesome view of the ballpark from center field. The Yankees expanded that café platform for the new season. Also changed are the obstructed view bleacher seats, which were the sections on each side of the 1893 Club (formerly Mohegan Sun Sports Bar). Those benches were demolished and tiered terraces were installed in their place. Each terrace features a full-bar, TVs and drink rails with power and USB outlets.

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But wait… there’s more! The Pinstripe Pass also comes with a free 12 oz beer or non-alcoholic beverage.

And if you get there early enough, you may even see Aaron Judge crush a batting practice home run in to a one of the HD TVs.


The Yankees won all three games I’ve been to this year; the team has a great home record. Heck, it’s a good record period – the Bronx Bombers are first in the division. Judge is leading the league in home runs and was the American League Rookie Of The Month for April.

Something tells me the Yankees will be selling plenty of Pinstripe Passes this year… should help pay for some of those new TVs they might need in center field.

Bob Saget just filmed a TV special in Brooklyn at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. There has been a recent surge in stand-up comedy yielding big paydays; Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock just scored separate deals worth $20 million a special for their work. But Saget swears he isn’t doing this for the money.

Matter-of-fact, to drive his point home, the actor told me he’s almost never had a major check in mind when seeking out or accepting a gig.

“When I got ‘Full House,’ I just needed a job,” he recalled. “I got fired from a CBS show and I took the money that was offered. And then when I got (America’s Funniest Home Videos) I took the money that was offered and then it became number one and then you find out you get money.

“I have never made money for the reason that I do (projects)… that has nothing to do with how I operate and that’s probably been against my better judgment.”

Saget’s career has sustained regardless of the motivation. That’s evident in the varying reactions he receives while walking around New York City.

“It really varies,” he explained. “It’s ‘Full House,’ it’s ‘Fuller House,’ it’s ‘Aristocrats,’ it’s a line ‘Half Baked’ I can’t repeat.”

The comedian summed it up as “bizarre” and a “bipolar existence” in that people seem to enjoy both his family programs and his “soft-R” material. Saget loves doing both, and perhaps that’s all the motivation he needs.

Stand-up comedian Sebastian Maniscalco doesn’t take his success granted. His roots won’t allow it.

“It’s great to do (comedy) for a living now,” he told me. “I worked as a waiter and then I was selling satellite dishes out of a mall so to be doing comedy for a living and what I always dreamed of is fantastic.”

Maniscalco has been in the comedy game for 18 years and is currently experiencing a surge of popularity. His humor is centered on real-life family experiences that resonate with both millennials and baby-boomers. Maniscalco’s most-recent special, “Why Would You Do That?” was filmed in the iconic Beacon Theater on New York City’s Upper West Side. It premiered on Showtime last October and he’ll continue touring behind it until at least November. The Chicago-born comedian also appeared on all of the major late-night shows and perhaps most notably, Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.”

The next big dates in the Northeast for Maniscalco include a string of three shows at The Borgata in Atlantic City and a night headlining Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. Don’t expect to find the comedian at a craps table though; he says gambling was left behind in his 20’s.

“Now I just go and perform and go out to dinner,” Maniscalco said of his casino show routine. “I love eating. My wife and I love cooking, entertaining, travel… so yeah, that’s kind of what we like doing.”

Sure beats waiting tables or working in a shopping mall.

She started her career by teaming up with Semi Precious Weapons lead singer Justin Tranter and writing big hits for Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Hailee Steinfeld to name a few. But since deciding to keep the song “Issues” for herself and become an artist, Julia Michaels has gotten to experience a whole new side of the music industry.

On Monday morning, she had the chance to check another box off the list: live TV. Michaels’ first time in front of the camera without the safety net of a pre-tape came on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” She and Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz revealed nominations for the 2017 Billboard Music Awards.

“A little nerve-wracking, I’m not going to lie,” Michaels told me of the experience backstage at GMA’s Times Square studios. “I have really bad performance anxiety. Apparently I can’t even talk without getting nervous!”

Michaels was thankful to have Wentz there though, a seasoned-pro at these things, to help her along. Despite Tranter penning FOB’s “Centuries,” it was the first time the two artists had met.

“He’s really calm,” she noted. “Super nice guy!”

Speaking of the nominations, The Chainsmokers and Drake took home the most, ever. Both acts tied the single-show nod record at 22 apiece. Twenty One Pilots checked in next on the list with 17, followed by Rihanna’s 14.

As for the aforementioned Bieber, he grabbed 7 – an impressive number considering the “Purpose” album cycle is finished. Michaels contributed to that LP; most notably co-writing “Sorry.”

“It was awesome,” Michaels said of her experience working on the album. “Actually, one of my favorite songs that I’ve written is a song called ‘The Feeling.’

“I wrote that after a break-up and I was talking to one of my friends, and I was just hysterically crying. And he was like, ‘OK, were you actually in love with him or were you in love with the feeling of being in love with him?’”

Immediately, the light bulb went off for Michaels. The song was co-produced by Skrillex and features singer Halsey, who coincidentally also scored 7 BBMA nods.

As for Michaels’ solo project, the singer is still pretty happy she made the decision to release the super-personal song “Issues” with her own voice. Michaels recently released the music video for the single and tells me that while originally thinking it would be followed by an EP, she may now opt for a full-length album because of the amount of writing she has done.

And yes, she’ll be at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards, which air Sunday night, May 21 at 8 pm live from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.