Archives For Garden Of Dreams

In addition to a new live album that’s currently in production and slated for release later this year, Goo Goo Dolls lead singer John Rzeznik revealed to me that the band is also currently writing new music.

“You got to keep it going,” he told me inside Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17. “You’ve got to move a lot quicker these days.”

In some sense, that’s why the Goo’s most recent body of original work was last year’s “You Should Be Happy,” an extended play rather than a full-length album.

“I had a couple new songs that I really liked, and we found some other stuff that we didn’t release and I was like, ’Well, let’s just put it out,’” he explained. “Then we went out and toured again and we had a great time.

“I’m still debating, ‘Do I do an EP? Do I do an album?’ What do you think?”

That wasn’t a rhetorical question by the way; my response somewhat echoed Rzeznik’s reasoning behind the EP, noting that amount of content and timing would ultimately be the factors. That certainly seems to have influenced the undertaking of the live album, a project that will eventually be served as a double-vinyl filled with various performances over “a couple-hundred shows.”

“It goes from places that are a thousand people up to like, 15,000 people,” he said. “It’s kind of interesting how the songs change around a little bit.”

Speaking of live performances, Rzeznik’s main reason for stopping by was to promote Friday night’s “Concert For Dreams” at Beacon Theatre, benefiting the Garden of Dreams Foundation. O.A.R. front man Marc Roberge, who received the charity’s 2018 Hero Award, personally asked him to participate.

“They’re like monsters; they’re crazy-talented musicians,” Rzeznik noted of O.A.R. “Yunno, (Goo Goo Dolls are) just a bunch of guys that learned how to play guitar in a garage.”

But hey, there’s something to be said for a couple of kids from Western New York with big dreams (ed note: I’m from Niagara Falls, New York so yes, I’m biased). And it’s pretty cool that four GRAMMY nominations and 12 million albums sold later, Rzeznik still values the importance of paying it forward.

“It’s a good thing; anything for kids is worth doing,” he said of working with Garden of Dreams, which helps kids throughout the tri-state area overcome obstacles.

On Wednesday I headed to Radio City Music Hall, where rehearsals were underway for the upcoming Garden Of Dreams Talent Show, a free event on March 27. The annual show offers kids who are overcoming obstacles in the tri-state area the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform on the great stage at Radio City.

The participants also receive tutelage from a number of celebrity mentors, including Sports Illustrated model and dancer Damaris Lewis. She chatted with us during the rehearsal about working with the kids and on their curiosity as to who she knows and has worked with.

Lewis and her fellow mentors will be back at Radio City to support the kids on March 27; the event starts at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.

We’re only halfway through March but it’s already been quite the year for Of A Revolution. The band found itself in the headlines for a rather unlikely reason to kick off 2018: Russian participants in the Winter Games were referred to as Olympic Athletes from Russia or… O.A.R. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for a little (read: a lot) of free, unexpected publicity; that week, the band O.A.R. announced a new single and the “Just Like Paradise Tour” featuring Matt Nathanson.

But well before the cross-country trek kicks off in July, the quintet from Maryland is hard at work on a benefit show for the Garden Of Dreams Foundation called “Concert For Dreams.” The lineup includes the aforementioned Nathanson along with fun frontman Nate Ruess, Run D.M.C. co-founder Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Goo Goo Dolls’ singer Johnny Rzeznik, Counting Crows lead Adam Duritz, Robert Randolph and Gavin DeGraw.

“When you come in and the lights go down, you’re going to hear some O.A.R. songs, you’re going to hear hits from each one of those artists, you’re going to hear cover songs of us performing them together and at the end of the night you’re going to get to hear everybody out there doing some very classic songs in a very big way,” O.A.R. lead singer Marc Roberge told me. “It is a real concert; this is not a fundraiser, it’s not a corporate event. This is a concert and that’s what it’s going to feel like and be.”

That said, funds will be raised; all proceeds from “Concert For Dreams” will be donated to Garden Of Dreams, the non-profit arm of the Madison Square Garden Company. The charity helps to improve the lives of children across the tri-state area while also helping them overcome obstacles.

Tickets are still available through Ticketmaster for the event, which takes place March 23 at the Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side.

Congratulations to Hoda Kotb on her new gig as the permanent co-host of “Today,” alongside Savannah Guthrie. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Hoda on a couple of occasions and I must say, in-person she is exactly who you think she is: warm, inclusive, inviting and of course usually down for a good laugh.

Of course, Hoda also kicks off my show every evening with her repetition of, “Ralphie, Ralphie, Ralphie.” The whole thing actually started in 2015 when I first met Hoda at Radio City Music Hall; she was mentoring kids for the Garden Of Dreams Foundation Talent Show. When Kotb was introduced to me she exclaimed, “Ralphie’s here!” and that clip served as my open for about a year. Then in 2016 I saw Hoda again at the same event and informed her that she started my show every evening. Kotb laughed and then insisted she record the new, current version.

All kidding aside, I’ll never forget the first time I interviewed the “Today” co-host and not exclusively because she unknowingly gave me a fun way to kick off my radio show. For me, the most memorable part of our conversation was when we were talking about advice she would pass on to participants of the talent show.

“I don’t think successful people are necessarily the most talented or the most educated,” she explained. “I wasn’t either. I think it’s really the kids who don’t stop. You’re here for a reason. I think for any kid who has ever wanted to do something, if you have a will and you love it, I think that’s three-fourths of it.

“Talent doesn’t win. Persistence wins. Perseverance wins.”

Ultimately, Kotb’s advice was to never give up. She embodies the message and serves as proof that yes, good things do happen to good people.


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.

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.’”