Last Friday I spoke on the phone with Ryan Sheckler. The professional skateboarder and former MTV reality star was in New York City for a Nike SB Street League Skateboarding competition at Newark’s Prudential Center. Towards the end of the interview, I asked Sheckler about the photo Justin Bieber tweeted of the skater to promote Bieber’s new single, “What Do You Mean?” Sheckler noted that he counts the pop star as a good friend of his.

“We did like two music videos yesterday,” he revealed. “We skated a mini-ramp for… damn, it was probably like two hours and we just got to rap out by ourselves.

“He’s a really cool kid. A lot of people have their opinions about the dude but he’s a solid guy and yeah, he’s one of my homies.”

Both of the clips they filmed last week have seen the light of day: Sheckler is featured prominently in the new lyric video for Bieber’s new single, which hit iTunes Friday. The music video also contains a Sheckler cameo.

“What Do You Mean?” does not pick up where singles like “As Long As You Love Me” and “Beauty And A Beat” left off. The track does have a flavor of electronic dance music in the synths but with a ticking-clock and piano, the vibe is much more “on the beach” than South Beach. While it’s not a complete departure, the 21 year-old does deserve some credit for taking a chance with a different vibe as opposed to simply hiring a well-known producer and song-writer to help craft the perfect pop hit.

Bieber performed his new single Sunday at the MTV Video Music Awards.

It may simply be a reflection of the times in the music industry more than anything else: a MTV Video Music Award nominee told by the network that he would have to buy his own ticket to the award show.

Actually at first, nominated director Josh Forbes couldn’t even get MTV on the line. When he did connect, the outlet informed him that directors have to buy their own ticket. The cost would range from $450 to $800, depending on where he wanted to sit.

“That doesn’t make any sense. If the director is nominated for a VMA shouldn’t he get a ticket to the VMAs?” Forbes asked on a GoFundMe page he started. “Yes he should. But he doesn’t.”

It’s a little ridiculous: MTV, which barely even plays videos, still holds this annual event to celebrate the videos they don’t play and they can’t even comp the directors that create the art in the first place.

As Forbes also writes on his GoFundMe page though, the idea that directors have to pay their way in is probably more of a nod to the way things used to be than the big giant trying to screw the little guy. Record labels typically cover the costs like this, but naturally those budgets have also shifted with the times.

The Colorado-based director has made music videos for the past decade and also counts Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song” in his credits. His heartfelt explanation and plea via GoFundMe yielded big dividends, to the tune of $2,500. By doubling his goal, Forbes now plans to bring his wife along to the VMAs, along with calling an Uber to get to-and-from the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.

“Artists and filmmakers get taken advantage of because we’re sensitive people,” Forbes explained in a follow-up post, thanking donors for their generosity.” “We’re not always that great at getting our needs met and valuing our work properly because we’d be doing this for fun anyway. The truth is, the world needs us. And our work is extremely valuable. And I feel this value right now in every donation.”

Regardless of if Walk The Moon’s “Shut Up And Dance” wins the Moonman for “Best Rock Video,” its director scored the top prize.

In this week’s edition of “Trend Hungry Tuesday” – Resident Fashionista Jessie Holeva highlighted a beauty trend called strobing.

Visit Trend Hungry to find the latest fashion 411 on a skinny budget, and catch Jessie every Tuesday evening on “Ralphie Tonight.”



My summer of travel continued last weekend to beautiful Houston, Texas. I had never been to H-Town; it was only my second time ever in The Lonestar State. I booked the trip to surprise my friend Roberto Clemente Jr., whose wife was throwing him a 50th birthday party!

First stop: Minneapolis. I had a quick layover there and was sure to grab a cup of Caribou Coffee at the airport. Not bad!

Checked in to my hotel around 1 p.m. on Saturday – here was my view of The Galleria, a neighborhood populated with shops, restaurants, expensive homes and high-rises in Houston.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on

The Westin Oaks is actually connected to a shopping center also called The Galleria, which is the biggest mall I’ve ever been in. Growing up in Western New York and playing ice hockey as a kid, I couldn’t pass up the chance to skate in the mall’s rink for a bit.

The birthday boy! Also ran in to Buffalo Bills Hall Of Famer Thurman Thomas at the shindig. Proud to call RJ a friend.

Woke up early the next day and after a quick run, headed towards downtown. MKT Bar offered up quite the brunch: eggs in a taste tomato paste served with fresh pita bread and a Sake Bloody Mary infused with ginger and wasabi. So. Good.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on

And yes, that was my iPad in the last photo – tuned to the YES Network to watch the Andy Pettitte ceremony at Yankee Stadium. That’s ironic because Pettitte is from Houston; he pitched for the Astros and played the last game of his career at Minute Maid Park. That’s where the next stop of my trip would take me. After a Houston Police Officer threatened to write me a $250 ticket for jaywalking (you’re not in New York anymore, Ralphie) – I hit up MMP in my old-school Don Mattingly Yankees shirt to watch his Dodgers take on the Astros. Clayton Kershaw, one of the best pitchers in baseball, was starting for Los Angeles. Of course, I kept tabs on my Yanks while at the ballpark.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on

Left the game early to avoid any chance of missing my flight. Astros won in extra innings on a walk-off home run. And Houston won for it’s amenities and hospitality during my quick stay (save the police officer; c’mon man!).

A photo posted by 95.5 PLJ (@955plj) on

The cross-section between sports and music has never been as cool as it is now: Jay Z represents athletes, the Toronto Raptors signed Drake to consult on marketing matters and Carrie Underwood is back as the face and voice of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

But the relationship between artists and athletes extends past the major American sports; action sports like skateboarding also enjoy a solid rapport with some of the biggest names in music.

Case-in-point: professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler. The 25 year-old grew up in the spotlight alongside music artists on MTV with his reality show “Life Of Ryan.” In that sense, he can relate to musicians like Justin Bieber a little better than your average athlete. The two spent last Thursday skateboarding and filming two music videos. Earlier this month, Bieber tweeted a photo of Sheckler to promote his new single, “What Do You Mean?”
“He’s a really cool kid,” Sheckler said of Bieber. “A lot of people have their opinions about the dude but he’s a solid guy and yeah, he’s one of my homies.”

Another hitmaker with an appreciation for ollies and flip tricks is Lil Wayne. The hip hop artist’s passion for the sport led him to create his own fashion line of apparel, Trukfit.

“Wayne and Bieber, they just have the heart for it. They’re not doing it as some gimmick,” Sheckler explained; he called in to “Ralphie Tonight” to promote last weekend’s Nike SB Street League Skateboarding stop in Newark, N.J. “They actually really love skateboarding and they’re getting a lot better, day-by-day. Practice makes perfect.”

It certainly is not uncommon to see Wayne out-and-about with his board; the rapper was even spotted a few years ago skating around the parking lot of The Woodlands ahead of his concert at Montage Mountain.

“I think they realize that skateboarding is fun,” Sheckler continued. “To learn at your own pace, to do what you want to do… you can just be an individual and it’s freedom.

“I back Wayne and Bieber skating so hard man. It’s cool.”

The artists’ affection for the sport may also be a reflection of the times; as every league competes for television money and ad revenue online, skateboarding has seen an expansion past ESPN’s “X-Games.” Fox Sports 1 broadcasted Sunday’s event live from the Prudential Center.

These and possibly other reasons lead Sheckler to believe that skateboarding’s future is bright.

“I see skateboarding eventually in the Olympics,” he predicted. “People are actually realizing that skateboarding is a sport.”

And for pros like Sheckler, that might end up being the coolest cross-section of all.

In this edition of Weekend Scoop, InStyle Magazine Senior Editor Sharon Clott Kanter chatted about MTV’s redesigned Moonman award ahead of next weekend’s VMAs and Ellen DeGeneres’ new collaboration with Gap.

“Extra” New York City correspondent AJ Calloway swung by “Ralphie Tonight” to chat about his recent exclusive interview with Donald Trump outside of Trump Towers and his sit down with Zac Efron, who received a surprise from his publicist, via The Rock, during the interview.

Watch “Extra” weeknights at 7 p.m. on WNBC and catch AJ interviewing the stars at H&M Times Square.

In this week’s edition of “Trend Hungry Tuesday” – Resident Fashionista Jessie Holeva talked about a trend she saw on the Teen Choice Awards red carpet, pointed pumps.

Visit Trend Hungry to find the latest fashion 411 on a skinny budget, and catch Jessie every Tuesday evening on “Ralphie Tonight.”



On Monday I joined HLN’s “The Daily Share” to chat about Norm Macdonald as the new Colonel Sanders, Tim Tebow’s return and more. Thanks to my friends at HLN for having me on! Senior Reporter Andrew Nodell called in to “Ralphie Tonight” for this week’s edition of “Weekend Scoop.” Andrew had news on Rihanna out-and-about in the city, Pharrell making some interesting requests on his rider and more.