Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is continuing its evolution from race track to casino to destination resort. The most recent expansion plans not only include a new hotel and convention center but also a 1,500 seat entertainment venue for concerts and performances.
“It’s one of the additions that we wanted to add to bring more revenue to the community here,” explained Mohegan Tribe Chairman Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, following a groundbreaking ceremony in which he used a jackhammer. “When you have a convention center and it’s a destination, people can stop by, spend three or four days here, they can visit all the local businesses out there.”
Bozsum also noted that the resort will rely on local businesses for supplies and services throughout the operation. Mohegan officials say the project will create over 250 permanent jobs and in excess of 600 once the expansion opens next year. The Mohegan Chairman also confirmed that the announcement does not change the tribe’s relationship with Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
“When you’re in the entertainment business, there are different entertainers for different size venues,” Bozsum said. “There’s a whole class of acts that go out there and fill 1,500 seat rooms, but they can’t fill 10,000 or 20,000. So, there’s two different levels and we work with our outside vendors to bring in the right size entertainer for the right size group and it works out better.”
Bozsum expects a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the property in a little over a year. He also revealed that the Mohegan Tribe has not proposed additional gaming space with the expansion, but noted that once the hotel is up and running, that aspect of business would be reviewed.
Some credit “Jersey Shore” with reviving MTV, a network that was trying to find its place in pop culture after “The Real World” ratings dwindled, “The Hills” came to an end, and music videos became an online, on-demand commodity.
But, it almost didn’t happen. The original concept for “Jersey Shore” was actually intended for VH1.
“When I applied for it, there was actually a VH1 application,” revealed Seaside Heights star Vinny Guadagnino. The Staten Island-born partier sat down with me at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT before signing copies of his new book, Control The Crazy: My Plan To Stop Stressing, Avoid Drama, and Maintain Inner Cool. “It was asking for ‘orange’ people that have really spike-y hair and big muscles and stuff.”
Offended that the casting directors thought all people who partied on the Shore looked like this, Guadagnino applied, despite lacking the tan, hair, and muscles. Producers loved him and the reality TV star was a part of the first show pilot, entitled “Guidos.” Initially, the plan was to take the “Flavor of Love” or “Rock of Love” dating competition model and apply it to Seaside Heights. But fearing that there was already too many shows similar on television, Viacom executives changed the concept to a more “Real World”-like model. Vinny was left, but some younger women, such as Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi were brought in. Suddenly, the show was more MTV friendly.
“You need diversity in the cast,” explained Guadagnino. “You need a spectrum from light to tan (laughing). That’s why you pick me, because people want to identify with different types of people. So if you had all the same cast member, it wouldn’t really be an entertaining show, right?”
Probably not, and perhaps the series would not be gearing up for its sixth season. Filming in “the house” begins this summer.
“When I first started, I didn’t know what I was walking in to,” Vinny recalled. “Now at least I know who is going to be there. I know that ‘Snooki’ is pregnant and Mike [‘The Situation’ Sorrentino] was just going through something so, I just know as much as you do. I’m just going to go there and make the best of it.”
That “something” Guadagnino referred to is probably the reports that “The Situation” found himself in rehab, allegedly over addictions to alcohol and prescription pills. The abuse of drugs is one of many lessons Vinny touches on in his new book, as he tries to help others cope with anxiety issues.
“Whenever Mike does something bad, he always comes to me,” Guadagnino said. “He’s like, ‘Vin, I’m gonna do something.’ And I’m like, ‘Alright…’ because he knows that I’m going to give him “the look” afterwards.”
As Vinny found himself needing help, he went to an on-set therapist, who he refers to in the book as “Dr. B.” But not even a professional could prevent the anxiety from getting the best of Guadagnino, and he reveals in the book that it was his personal struggle that led him to temporarily leave the show during season five.
“When it was happening to me, they really didn’t know what to do,” said Vinny, before revealing that his cast-mates offered him amongst other things, strippers, to help him out. Guadagnino appreciated the sentiment but declined. “Anything that ever happens to you can be looked at as a positive thing because the reason why I know all this stuff and I have a book and that I’m very knowledgeable in spirituality is because I’ve gone through it.”
As he said earlier in the interview when referring to himself, Guadagnino truly is the “Dalai Lama” of the house on “Jersey Shore.” If nothing else, he certainly adds to the cast a diversity that he credits with the show’s success.
The cast returns to Seaside Heights this summer to film season six of the hit reality show. In addition to Snooki’s forthcoming child, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino just finished a stint in rehab.
“Nicole is supposedly coming down,” the “blast in a glass” said. “I mean she probably won’t be drinking with me. But, Nicole and her personality, me and my personality, you don’t even need alcohol to have a good time.”
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Surely regardless of Snooki’s soberness, there will be plenty of the usual shenanigans that fans of “Jersey Shore” have come to expect. Deena did say that she also expects that some of her friends will visit while she’s in the house.
“Give me music and a bar, and I’ll just dance on it really,” Cortese continued, attempting to convince me that she doesn’t need liquor to party.
There is one thing that the “walking holiday” definitely can do without: her cell phone. This is definite, because all phones are confiscated once taping commences. Cortese revealed that the cast’s isolation from the outside world can sometimes benefit it.
“Say you’re on your cell phone and something happens outside the house, and it completely changes your mood; like [the producers] don’t want that to happen,” she explained. “My first time I was in the house, thank God they kept all that stuff away. No one knew about me… and they were trying to find every skeleton in my closet, and all these lies were going on about me throughout the media. But I had no idea so I was completely fine in the house.”
Deena has certainly adapted to life in the spotlight – accumulating over a million followers on Twitter in the process. Her boyfriend of seven months however, prefers to stay away from the cameras, and may not be seen regularly on the upcoming season.
“He’s not really in to the limelight, and people knowing about his business,” Cortese said of her beau, Chris Buckner. “Hopefully he does [come to visit], even just to get lunch or something.”
Cortese assures though that despite her relationship status, she is still the same partier that viewers have come to both love and loathe.
“I’m the same blast in a glass, he knows I’m a meatball,” she said. “As long as I don’t cheat on him, me and him will be fine, and I would never cheat on him.”
But, for better or worse, what happens in Seaside Heights ends up on MTV. So one way or the other, we’ll all get to see if Deena is true to her word next season.
Bobby Brown attempted to attend Whitney Houston’s “Home-Going” in Newark, NJ on Saturday. Later in the evening, he attended his own homecoming in New England. Hours after the world paid its final goodbye to Houston, Boston’s New Edition performed in front of a sold-out crowd of over 7,000 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.
Brown took a planned absence from the night’s first three songs, then entered stage right for “Hit Me Off.” As the band introduced themselves one by one before “Jealous Girl,” Brown acknowledged the woman he was married to for almost 15 years.
“I want to give blessings to my ex-wife, Whitney Houston. I love you,” Brown said, motioning towards the sky. “I want to give a lot of blessings to my kids, my fiancée, my brothers, and all of you.”
By “brothers,” Brown was referring to his New Edition band-mates. The sextet powered through a set that lasted almost two hours. Songs performed Saturday evening spanned from New Edition’s 1983 Candy Girl debut to Brown’s 1988 solo smash “My Prerogative” to Bell Biv DeVoe’s 1990 hit, “Poison.” Michael Bivens and Ricky Bell founded New Edition with Brown. Ronnie DeVoe joined a few years later.
With Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill also on board, the group had the crowd inside Mohegan Sun on their feet for most of the evening. As the night wound down, the six members sat on stools while the group’s lead singer addressed the crowd again.
“I lost three great people in my life, in the last year,” Brown told the audience of over 7,000 before New Edition wrapped with “Home Again.” “But, nothing makes me happier than to be right here, right now.”
Brown’s brothers were happy to have him there, and had his back. Bivens recognized the emotions that everyone was feeling due to the funeral. The singer said that Bell was “like a bull in a china shop,” watching TV coverage of the event.
“I told (Bell), hit them with your voice, not your fist,” Bivens said to the crowd.
Some New Edition fans, like Lisa Pollock of Bridgeport, Conn., were simply happy just to see Houston’s ex-husband in the building.
“(New Edition) just held it together. I can’t imagine what today was like for them,” Pollock said after the concert. “For them to come and do a show for all of us, definitely exceeded my expectations.”
Pollock thought that in the wake of Houston’s death, Brown is being portrayed unfairly by the media.
“We all have free will in this world,” she said, a nod to the notion that Brown was the direct reason for Houston’s eventual demise. “I’m not going to say what people did or did not do, but he’s his own person (Houston) was her own person.”
Serita Outlow of Norwich, Conn. also attended the show unsure if Brown would make it.
“I think he did an excellent job considering what he must have been feeling,” she said. “I don’t know what he went through with his voice today but I think he still pulled it off. I’m very proud of him.”
Maria Menounos was born in Massachusetts and has had no problem representing and supporting New England’s professional sports teams on local and national platforms. So did she really not know about all of those reports surrounding the Red Sox and their clubhouse antics, or was she simply playing coy as to not upset anyone in the organization? Watch the video for yourself and judge.
Boston born and New Kids on the Block singer Donnie Wahlberg has a sunny disposition on the Red Sox’s offseason.
“In 2003, we lost game seven (of the American League Championship Series)… Grady Little and Pedro Martinez stayed in the game too long. Everyone thought it was the end of the world,” Wahlberg explained last weekend on the red carpet of Mohegan Sun’s 15th anniversary in Uncasville, CT. “We cleaned house, came back, and won the World Series. And that’s what’s going to happen next year.”
The BoSox have parted ways with their Manager and General Manager, amidst all types of reports on the activities of some players in the clubhouse during the Red Sox September slide, a slump which saw the team relinquish playoff contention. Thankfully for Wahlberg, his fall hasn’t been tumultuous whatsoever. NKOTB just announced a European tour, while the actor focuses on his CBS drama, “Blue Bloods” and newly opened restaurant, Wahlburgers, which is located near Boston.
“America’s Grillmaster” Bobby Flay has certainly proven that he can handle the heat in the kitchen. But this summer, Flay proved he could handle a different type of heat, as in the wrath of the fictional super-agent Ari Gold on the HBO series “Entourage.” The hit show saw its eighth and final season air this summer, with Flay playing the role of semi-home wrecker, moving in on Gold’s wife after the couple had separated. However in an interesting twist, show writers chose Flay to reveal Mrs. Ari’s first name, Melissa, for the first time in the show’s history.
“When I read the script, I couldn’t believe it,” Flay told me at an appearance for Mohegan Sun’s 15th anniversary in Uncasville, CT. “I was like, ‘This is sort of like television history. No one knew her name for eight seasons, and I’m going to get to be the one to reveal her name?’ I thought that was pretty cool.”
Flay’s arc on the show was his first for a fictional series. The celebrity chef currently owns eleven different restaurants between his Mesa Grill, Bar Americain, Bobby Flay Steak, and Bobby’s Burger Palace brands.
Jennifer Lopez returned to the stage and Regis Philbin continued his goodbyes from the screen in what turned out to be a memorable weekend in celebration of Mohegan Sun’s 15th anniversary.
The Uncasville, CT resort hosted a tribute dinner to the TV icon Friday night. Philbin admitted to me that his pending departure from “Live!” is starting to dawn on him. But don’t worry, he didn’t become too serious about it.
“I feel like crying,” joked Philbin to me after the dinner. “I’m going back to my room and I’m going to cry, right now!”
Of course, no celebrity celebration is complete without a cake from Buddy Valastro. “The Cake Boss” presented Philbin on stage with a cake designed as a television. Valastro told me he baked the piece back in New Jersey.
“To bring (the cake) to Mohegan Sun is no problem,” Valastro explained. “We’ve delivered cakes out to Vegas, or L.A. That’s tough.”
The TLC star also brought a cake for the resort’s birthday. While appearances by the “Cake Boss,” Bobby Flay, Philbin, and cast members of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” were all big hits, it was Jennifer Lopez’s Saturday night performance inside Mohegan Sun Arena that proved to be the highlight of the weekend.
“She inspires me,” admitted “Glee” star Lea Michele, who caught the performance. “I look at her and I go, ‘I wanna do that. I wanna be like that.’”
It is that star power that put JLO at the top of the list for performers that Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum wanted to headline the weekend. The Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe Council told me that it wasn’t too uncommon for the resort to house an artist for a week, like Lopez, to accommodate for rehearsals, meals, and other needs.
“She’s the hottest thing out there right now, in more ways than one,” said Bozsum. “Between ‘American Idol’ and her new album and all the stuff she’s doing, I think she’s the number one artist in the country.”
Many other celebrities stopped by Mohegan Sun to take in Lopez’s performance, including New Kids on the Block singer Donnie Wahlberg, married couple Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo, and Jaime Pressly. After the show, both Minnillo and Pressly offered rousing reviews of JLO’s show.
“It was awesome, it was incredible,” said Pressly. “Very entertaining.”
Don’t act too surprised: it looks as if America’s favorite on-and-off couple is off… again.
According to multiple sources, Ronnie Magro was close to a no-show for his scheduled appearance at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT on Friday night. The resort booked Magro along with fellow MTV “Jersey Shore” stars Sammi Giancola and Deena Cortese for a question and answer session, meet and greet, and nightclub appearance. Magro missed the Q&A and had “Meatball #2” sit between him and Sammi during the meet and greet.
Later in the evening, all three showed up to Mohegan Sun’s Ultra 88 Nightclub. Sammi entered first, flanked by a girlfriend. Deena followed soon after, and Ronnie showed up last. While waiting to walk in to the club, Magro turned to a friend and said, “I can’t do this. It’s too tough.” Immediately after, he and his entourage walked out the entrance of the club, past Sammi Sweetheart who could only turn and glare at her now ex-boyfriend.
Sammi and Deena stayed the evening, partying inside a VIP suite with the Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro. Ronnie exited out the back door around 1 a.m.