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When it comes to soliciting celebrities for ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars,” there is no shame in Val Chmerkovskiy’s game.

“We’re recruiting all the time,” he admitted to me. “And now with social media, you can just slide in to the DM directly, yunno?”

Chmerkovskiy noted that the upcoming season of “DWTS” will be athletes only, something he thinks fans of the show will enjoy. The dance pro is always keeping his eye out for a possible contestant.

“I watch the Olympics, gymnastics… I know a lot of the ladies on our show watch the football season to see who are the breakout characters and personalities,” he revealed. “Look, the sports world has a lot of really talented, really hard-working people. That alone, those two attributes, really translate well in anything that you do.

“How you do anything is how you’ll do everything.”

So it should come to no surprise that Chmerkovskiy called me from Los Angeles during a break in rehearsals for the show, “Maks, Val and Peta Live On Tour: Confidential.” Chmerkovskiy, his older brother Maksim and his sister-in-law Peta Murgatroyd will headline Radio City Music Hall on April 14.

“I’ve performed in Radio City Music Hall before with the ‘Dancing With The Stars Tour’ and it felt incredible,” he recalled. “To be able to come back as my own artist and be able to perform there with family is literally a dream come true.”

The professional dancer, who grew up in South Brooklyn and went to high school in Hoboken, might have a few other items on his to-do list when he returns home.

“I need to experience a subway commute, come upstairs in to a rainy, crowded area, be bumped around in the most uncomfortable way possible, go in to a corner bodega, order an extra-toasted bagel with cream cheese and a coffee just black, and my day is made.”

There’s no shame in that, either.

I’ll never forget one particular time when I was walking up an emergency path in Times Square towards 47th Street. I saw two bottles, a regular water and a Vitamin Water, at the feet of a reveler. I asked if they were his and he nodded. I then looked closer and realized that they were both frozen solid – that was a first.

It was my fourth consecutive time ringing in the New Year while standing in the Crossroads of the World and there were a couple of firsts throughout the evening. In addition to the frozen beverages, I finally interviewed a bystander who at least said that he wore diapers to the ball drop in case he had to go to the bathroom; I had heard for years that people did this but no one ever admitted it to me.

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The reveler took it a step further and offered to show me; I took him for his word.

This was also the first year I ended up inside a bar on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. A big thanks to O’Donoghues Pub on 44th, right next to the ABC studios, for allowing me to pop-in during the final hour of our broadcast for a bit and interview some of the patrons on the air.

Most important, thanks to Vic on site, Scotty Bones back in the studio, dick clark productions for providing us with access to and space in the aforementioned ABC studios and the great folks at Times Square Alliance for credentialing us to be there.

I tell people all the time – my job is comprised of many “once-in-a-lifetime” events that I have the chance to experience on an annual basis, and this is one of them. I hope you get the chance to do the same one year. Have a safe and successful 2018 and check out my chats with Nick Jonas, Andy Grammer and some of those revelers below.

For my third consecutive year, before traveling to Atlantic City for the Miss America competition, I chatted with some of the contestants and celebrity judges. The participants from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island called in along with Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri and first-time judge/country music superstar Thomas Rhett.

Not only is Rita Ora in a good place, it sounds like her peers are as well.

“Everyone’s just being really nice to each other and it feels really good,” the “Your Song” singer said in an interview that aired on my show Monday. “Everyone just shows so much support. It feels like we have a little community going on, which I like.”

The comments were a response to my observation of watching Ora’s interaction with Vanessa Hudgens and Drake backstage at the Billboard Music Awards in May. There were no cameras around as the entertainers exchanged pleasantries.

“I mean I’ve known some people in this industry since I was like 18, so it’s nice to just see people do their ‘thang,’” Ora continued. “My mom always taught me to be nice, to be respectful, and then you’ll get it back.

“And if not, then we can take it outside!” the 26 year-old joked.

With the way in which tabloids cover the London-native across the pond, it’s inevitable that Ora sometimes finds her name linked to stories that aren’t so respectful. That does not seem to have affected her disposition negatively; but she’s clearly cognizant of the coverage. This was evident in Ora’s reaction when I mentioned that she spent last summer filming “America’s Next Top Model” down the street from me.

“So I was annoying you then basically,” she retorted, semi-kidding I think. “There were loads of paparazzi. You must have been so angry at me.”

For the record, I wasn’t inconvenienced at all; however the same can’t be said for the people who lived next door to the models’ townhouse. Regardless of its downfalls, Ora is still thankful that she gets to do what she loves.

“I’m an entertainer, yunno?” she responded when I asked about her venture in to TV hosting. She’s currently the host of ABC’s competition “Boy Band.” “I think every time I’ve done a TV (show) it’s been the right timing; like the opportunity came the same time as my music coming out and I just felt like it was perfect to be visible on multiple platforms.”

Ora’s new single, co-written by Ed Sheeran, is called “Your Song” and is available now. Her new album is slated for a fall release. She revealed that the LP is “kind of done” and is in the mastering and mixing phase.

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.

I appeared on CNN Headline News with anchor Virginia Cha to talk about the cancellation of the ABC soap operas, “One Life to Live” and “All My Children.”

Big thanks to HLN and Mark Goldman of Goldman & McCormick PR.

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How desperate is ABC? Stevie Wonder on “Dancing With The Stars” desperate. TMZ’s Leslie Harris explains…


Catch Leslie on TMZ TV – Weekdays at 6 on Channel 38 – The CW.

Ellen Pompeo took a break from her job as “Meredith Grey” at Seattle Grace to talk with Ralphie about Italian food, the paparazzi, politics, and the Grey’s Anatomy!

Part 1: Scranton, Italian Food, Paparazzi, Obama/Iraq

Part 2: Obama/Taxes, Meeting Obama, Will Derek & Meredith Wed?

apparently dj samantha ronson is billing around $20,000 per event she spins at. ridiculous!

this article on abc news explains more, including why samantha isn’t necessarily the best DJ in the world as far as mixing and working the wheels, yet picks all the right songs.

ronson recently spun at my old stomping grounds of central new york, throwing down at lava nightclub inside the turning stone casino and resort in verona, ny.

and these kids look way too happy.
the rumor is that lance bass will be dancing with the stars next season. but there’s a little wrinkle – his pro partner may be a man. details here.