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It was great attending this year’s Garden Of Dreams Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall on Monday night. The event gives kids who live in the tri-state area a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be mentored by professionals in entertainment and then perform on the great stage inside Radio City. On the red carpet, we chatted about the show and New York sports with Food Network star and devout 95.5 listener Chef Anne Burrell along with former Mets pitcher John Franco.


Harry Styles just dropped his new single, a throwback that recalls British artists of yesteryear entitled “Sign Of The Times.” He’ll perform it next weekend on “Saturday Night Live.”

I jokingly asked Michael Che, the SNL star who co-anchors the “Weekend Update” desk, if he is receiving any extra ticket requests due to the One Directioner’s forthcoming appearance.

“Well I’ll be honest with you, most of my family are African-American, so they’re not huge Harry Styles fans believe it or not,” the comedian quipped back. “There might be some!

“Nobody’s hit me up yet. It’s not like Drake!”

Che walked the red carpet at The Garden Of Laughs comedy show benefiting Madison Square Garden’s Garden Of Dreams Foundation. He thought it was important to support ‘SNL’ cast-mate Leslie Jones along with some of his other friends, like Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan.

“Typically on a Tuesday we would be in the middle of writing and we wouldn’t come up for air until Wednesday, sometime in the daytime,” Che explained of the typical schedule during a show week. “SNL” had last week off; it returns this weekend with host Louis C.K. and musical guests The Chainsmokers. Jimmy Fallon takes over hosting duties next Saturday, when Styles is set to perform.

As for Che, he will tour behind his Netflix special “Michael Che Matters” this June, with the trek’s first stop in Boston. Some New Englanders weren’t exactly thrilled earlier this year when during a “Weekend Tonight” segment about the Super Bowl, the comedian referred to Boston as “the most racist city I’ve ever been to.”

“You know what’s so funny? I have so much fun in Boston as far as performing shows,” Che told me. “I love performing in Boston.”

Just two weeks ago he headlined a show at Boston University and according to the Boston Globe, refused to apologize for his remarks because, “I’m just trying to be more presidential.”

Ironically, you could call that a sign of the times too.

For Norman Reedus, one of the stars of “The Walking Dead,” his run on the hit AMC show has been rather unexpected.

“I didn’t know I was going to be on the second episode of the first season,” Reedus revealed to me on the red carpet at The Garden Of Laughs charity event inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden last week. “I’m excited just to be here, you know what I mean?”

Now seven seasons later, the actor who plays Daryl Dixon has grown accustomed to walking around New York City and hearing adoring fans shout, “Don’t die!”

“I get a lot of police love and firemen love here,” he responded when I asked what fan interactions are like in the city. “(They talk) mostly about the show.”

And while Reedus talks about it comfortably, he admitted that there are some scenarios that he is not fully accustomed to.

“I just came back from Madrid and there were 10,000 screaming people in the streets and sometimes that’s overwhelming,” he admitted. “But it always feels good. I mean we work really hard on that show and we shoot it out in a bubble in the woods of Georgia so, when we come out of that and we get a lot of love it feels good.”

Sometimes he doesn’t even have to leave Georgia to feel the love. When I asked Reedus who the most surprising public figure was to tell him that they enjoyed “The Walking Dead,” he responded with Jada Pinkett Smith.

“I saw her in Savannah; she was there for a ‘Magic Mike’ after-party… I think they wrapped there,” he recalled. “She came up to me at a restaurant and said she really loved the show and I geeked out on her.”

Of course after Reedus’ story on “Fallon” about talk show host Sean Hannity sending endless shots of tequila to him and Dave Chappelle once, the Jada Smith run-in will only rank as the second most-random tale he’s told the media this year. Reedus probably encountered a few more TWD fans at The Garden Of Laughs stand-up comedy show. The event featured performances by Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, John Oliver, Tracy Morgan and Sebastian Maniscalco. “Saturday Night Live” star Leslie Jones and Bob Saget also performed at the benefit, which raised $2 million for The Garden Of Dreams Foundation to help kids through the tri-state area overcome obstacles.

Reedus has called New York home for almost 20 years; his son attends school in the city and his mother taught class in the Bronx and Harlem.

The Yankees’ home opener is Monday and if any unicorns, sharks, dinosaurs or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles end up sitting behind home plate, don’t blame John Oliver.

“I think we’re probably banned,” the “Last Week Tonight” host cracked when I asked him if he’d be attending a game this year. Oliver chatted with me before performing at The Garden Of Laughs stand-up comedy concert, benefiting Madison Square Garden’s The Garden Of Dreams Foundation. Last season, Oliver ran a contest that sent costumed fans in to the prestigious Legends Seats in Yankee Stadium following comments by Yankees COO Lonn Trost. While attempting to explain the policies regarding price floors and print-at-home tickets, Trost said that those who typically sit in expensive seats would be frustrated by fans who don’t normally sit in a premium location.

Oliver dedicated an entire segment to Trost’s words on his show, lambasting both he and the Yankees for the perceived “holier-than-thou” practice. Then with the hashtag “#IHaveNeverSatInAPremiumLocation,”the HBO host gave away pairs of Legends Seats for a quarter with the only condition bring that you had to wear something out-of-the-ordinary to the game.

Following the final game of fans dressing up and chowing down on five-star cuisine from the stadium’s finest seats, the Yankees ran a message on the scoreboard: “Thanks, John Oliver. Everyone is welcome at Yankee Stadium.”

I brought this to the comedian’s attention.

“Oh yeah. Sure they did,” he responded. “The Yankees say a lot of things on the JumboTron they don’t mean, like ‘Great to have you, A-Rod.’”

I was on the red carpet to cover arrivals at The Garden Of Laughs Comedy Concert, which benefited Madison Square Garden’s Garden Of Dreams Foundation, and spoke with actors Norman Reedus and Susan Sarandon along with performers Sebastian Maniscalco, John Oliver, Leslie Jones, Bob Saget and more.

The event raised $2 million for the charity, which helps kids throughout the tri-state area overcome obstacles. Other performers at the benefit included Chris Rock and a surprise set from Jerry Seinfeld.

Stars from across entertainment and sports showed up to support the kids performing at the Garden Of Dreams’ annual Talent Show. The show offers kids throughout the tri-state area who overcome obstacles the opportunity to perform on the Great Stage at Radio CIty Music Hall.
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Lending their support and speaking with us on the show’s red carpet included celebrity mentors Damaris Lewis and Nastia Liukin along with Broadway star Jay Armstrong Johnson, Impractical Jokers Joe Gatto and Murr, and HBO host John Oliver.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Damaris Lewis stopped by to chat about the upcoming Garden of Dreams Foundation Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall, where kids from throughout the tri-state area will have the opportunity to perform on stage at Radio City.

Lewis also chatted a bit about her recent outing to a Warriors/Thunder NBA game, where her and friend Prince (yes, that one) sat courtside to see Stephen Curry and the defending NBA Champions take on Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City.

The Garden of Dreams Talent Show is Monday, April 11, at Radio City Music Hall. Tickets to the event are free and will be distributed upon entrance in to the venue.
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When you tune in to my show at 7 pm, you usually hear a voice announce, “Ralphie’s here!” That voice is none other than Today Show co-host Hoda Kotb. It was recorded last June when I interviewed her during a Garden of Dreams charity event. Fast forward nine months, and I ran in to Hoda again at the same event. Watch the original clip first, then below it Hoda’s reaction when I tell her that she kicks off my show every evening.

Related: I love Hoda.

The Garden Of Dreams Foundation, Madison Square Garden’s charity that aims to improve the lives of kids facing an array of obstacles across the tri-state area, is preparing for its annual talent show. It is an event that provides children with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform on stage at Radio City Music Hall.

And for that reason, TV personality Hoda Kotb is returning a second time to help out.
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“This is one of those events that you have to do again. You can’t do it once,” Kotb responded when I asked why she reprised her role of “Celebrity Mentor” alongside the likes of gold medalist Nastia Liukin, model Damaris Lewis, The Rockettes, Broadway star Christina Sajous and hip-hop legend Darryl “DMC” McDaniels. “There are so many events and wonderful charities in New York. This particular one does it exactly right.”

Citing what the participants take from the experience, The Today Show co-host elaborated.

“It transforms lives. It changes the trajectory of someone’s path,” she explained. “You actually can physically watch someone change, and how often does that happen in your lifetime, that you get to watch someone transform right in front of you?”

According to the foundation, over 100 children will participate in the talent show, and each child took a different path to the great stage. For Caroline Waters, she battled Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. The 16 year-old Queens native was diagnosed at age two and began chemotherapy before later receiving a bone marrow transplant from her younger sister, who was just four at the time.

Waters has been cancer-free for 13 years, and chose to perform Andra Day’s “Rise Up” at the event.

“I find it very inspiring,” she said of the track. “It’s such an anthem; everything happens for a reason, so whatever happens, it’ll be OK.”

It’s quite a profound comment from a teenager like Waters who has faced so many trials and tribulations. Yet, her disposition reveals not only how this organization benefits children, but how it also reflects back on to the volunteers.

“I learned that these kids, when you look at the hardships that they have to sort of overcome, you learn that at the base of it we’re all just human beings,” Kotb responded when asked what she took from last year’s talent show. “We all just have basic needs. These kids have such incredible talent and I think sometimes they don’t get a fair shot at it because of where they began.

“I just like this because it puts everyone on the starting line together. Here we all are, together. Now 1, 2, 3: go. That’s how it works, and everyone gets their shot.”

In essence, the talent show gives everyone their own opportunity to rise up.

While this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, count Kevin Jonas as one of the many happy with the accomplishments of his younger brother Nick.

“Nick’s doing an amazing job. He’s working his ass off and having so much fun,” the oldest JoBro told me last week on the red carpet at the Garden of Dreams Talent Show inside Radio City Music Hall. “I think the music speaks for itself. Yunno, having two top 10 hits is huge, and it’s a feat all in its own.”
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The youngest of the three musicians scored success on the pop chart with “Jealous” and “Chains.” Perhaps also not surprising: it doesn’t seem Nick is stopping there.

“I’ve heard there’s more music coming as well,” revealed Kevin. “So, I’m excited for him.”

Count Kevin strictly as a cheerleader though, and not as an older brother who tries to play mentor.

“Nick’s doing his thing. Each one of us is kind of doing our own thing,” he responded when I asked him about mentoring his younger bro. I posed the question because the event we were at centers on mentorship: the Garden of Dreams Foundation partners kids facing obstacles with celebrities throughout entertainment to receive guidance leading up to the event at Radio City.

Kevin did note that as the Jonas Brothers grew up, they had a few big names and experiences to lean on themselves.

“We got to meet a lot of amazing people as we got to travel and do different things,” Jonas noted, immediately mentioning the 51st GRAMMYs performance that the boys shared with Stevie Wonder. “Talking to Paul McCartney and being able to share our stories and him actually wanting to hear what we had to say and to tell us about his life… it’s just, things like that I’ll never forget.”

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