I can’t believe we’re less than a month away from Pumpkin Spice Lattes and football weekends. I detest humidity and absolutely love fall (not necessarily for the PSLs though; do you know what they put in those things?) but still am taken aback at how quick summer flew by.
Yes, I have no probably saying “flew” as opposed to “flying” because I’m not a beach person and the Yankees are giving me a reason to anticipate competitive September and October baseball. I do love summer weekends up in the Bronx though, and that’s where I spent the majority of my final July weekend. The Yanks won in walk-off fashion on that Saturday; a perfect, cool day to catch a game in Center Field, even if I didn’t score a Yankees camouflage cap (free giveaway to the first 18,000 fans that were age 21 or older). Then Sunday, I drove with a buddy up to Riverdale so I could check out a few apartments. I fell in love with the neighborhood: family-friendly, beautiful Van Cortlandt Park, plenty of bars and restaurants and easy access to Manhattan via Metro North.
With my lease up on the Upper West Side October 1, that may be perhaps the one reason I definitely don’t want summer to pass much quicker. Short of a miracle, a change in location looks imminent, but I really love this neighborhood. Hopefully I don’t move but if so, it has been a fantastic five-year run on the UWS. Catching Sunday sunsets from the Boat Basin Café is just one of the many reasons why.
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.”
“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.
Ocean Park Standoff is comprised of an unlikely but talented group. You have drummer Pete Nappi, who was born on Long Island. Then there’s the lead singer Ethan Thompson who is from Montana. And rounding-out the group, the British-born and Upper West Side-raised Samantha Ronson. The three linked up through writing sessions, although they first got a kick out of responding to that question by “Tinder” and then categorizing the aforementioned sessions as “playdates.” A self-titled EP later and break-out single later and the trio finds themselves on late-night TV and as a supporting act for Third Eye Blind’s upcoming tour.
“We were talking about what was going on in our lives and in the world,” Thompson recalled regarding the creating of that single, “Good News.” “Samantha had a chord progression and then pretty much we just started off with the chorus right away and it just took off from there.”
Certainly Thompson was alluding to the country’s political climate; Ronson was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton, DJ-ing rallies and using her influence on social media to get the vote out for her. The twin sister of fashion designer Charlotte and younger sister of GRAMMY Award-winning producer Mark, Samantha is no stranger to the spotlight both through her own work and by relation. Her step-father is founding Foreigner member Mick Jones, who she casually mentioned during a recent performance with the band.
“This is my dad’s guitar that I borrowed, actually,” she told me. I asked if it was a last-second move and she quickly replied, “No, last night. I planned it ahead of time!”
What’s funny is that it’s not the first time I’ve seen this group fly by the seam of their pants in the city. During the band’s first ever New York City performance inside the Lower East Side’s Rockwood Music Hall, Nappi’s drum kit broke during the set. But the band said it never affected their show, or their mood. And it’s probably that disposition, along with their individual talent, that will yield a bit more good news for 2017.
Sure I was in Los Angeles covering The 59th GRAMMYs, but that didn’t stop me from making some headlines in my local neighborhood’s blog.
I’m a big fan of Westside Rag if for nothing else, it keeps me updated on the latest openings and closings in the area, and that alone is a lot to track in this day-and-age of Gotham. Recently, I read on the site about complaints regarding noisy neighbors just blocks from my apartment.
These weren’t just any neighbors though; they were cast members from the latest season of “America’s Next Top Model.”
So when recently-eliminated contestant Paige Mobley stopped by our backstage broadcast inside LA’s Staples Center, well I felt compelled to bring these rumors to her. And I was surprised to hear her response.
So great to see a couple of current and possibly future GRAMMY nominees on my second day here in Los Angeles and our first day inside Staples Center for Westwood One’s Backstage at The GRAMMYs. I asked Mike Posner and Daya about the big day plus met Dua Lipa. Also, we chatted about a couple neighborhoods in Manhattan when “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Paige Mobley and singer/songwriter Max stopped by.
For my fifth consecutive year, I made the long (a couple blocks) trek to the Upper West Side and covered the start of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, taking in the sights and talking with some of the parade’s performers and special guests. Hear from Fitz & The Tantrums, Laurie Hernandez, Daya, Jacob Whitesides, Aloe Blacc, Ben Rector, Brett Eldredge and more!
What do Dennis Quaid, Lewis Black and Billy Bob Thornton have in common? Not sure, other than they are all in this video! I spoke with the three when I covered two red carpets in one night recently – the premieres for Quaid’s season two of the Crackle series “The Art Of More” and Thornton’s “Bad Santa 2” movie.
In what has become an annual tradition for me, I spent one October morning in my neighborhood on the Upper West Side with The Radio City Rockettes as they prepared for this year’s Christmas Spectacular, which kicks off November 11. Grab your tickets now here!
Day drinking, an extra-innings Yankees game and Guns N’ Roses at MetLife Stadium were just a few of the highlights from an action-packed weekend in which I commiserated with friends new and old.
My buddy Danny was in town visiting; he didn’t arrive until almost 2 in the morning. Thankfully it didn’t really matter that much because I work nights anyways and I happen to live in… the city that doesn’t sleep. There are bars and even kitchens open until 4 a.m. (or later in the case of the latter) throughout my neighborhood, so we settled in to one for some late-night grub and libations and ended up calling it a night… well, let’s just say the sun was rising when we finally went to bed.
And that was a common theme throughout the weekend.
After a quick breakfast on Saturday, we hopped in an Uber and headed to NoHo where I visited my friends at John Varvatos’ pop-up shop. They were hosting a Guns N’ Roses pop-up shop for the two shows in East Rutherford. Danny and I grabbed a couple of GNR shirts and made our way over to the 4 train, riding uptown to the Bronx.
The Yankees were hosting the Giants in the second of a three-game series and it was Military Appreciation Day at the Stadium. In addition to the ceremonies, the team gave away camouflage Yankees hat to the first 18,000 fans over the age of 21 (the cap was sponsored by Budweiser).
We snagged a few Bloody Marys and walked over to our seats in the bleachers; section 203 to be exact. The “Bleachers Creatures” section was far from full capacity but we did our best to assist in Roll Call (wherein the Creatures chant each name of the Yankees infield and outfield until they acknowledge the fans).
Then we sat. And sat. And sat. After a disappointing 12 innings, the Yankees were handed a brutal 2-1 loss. But, we made some friends who were visiting the Stadium for the first time via… Australia! So we felt it our obligation to at least bring them to Stan’s for a beer so they could completely their quintessential American baseball outing.
Saturday night was spent back in my neighborhood and let’s just say Sunday was definitely a sleep-in day. But even with waking up in the afternoon, we still got in a run before showering and meeting a few of my friends for drinks at a local watering hole nearby. Then we walked to the 1 and got off at Penn Station. Next stop: NJ Transit to the Meadowlands, via a transfer in scenic Secaucus. Lenny Kravitz took the stage around 8:30. Guns N’ Roses followed around 9:45.
Here’s what I thought of the show:
Believe it or not, but there was a Sunday night cap on our return trip to Penn: a walk to Times Square and a few rounds at the classic Jimmy’s Corner. Jimmy was a “corner guy” in boxing; worked with all of the big names. He’s owned this little gem forever and it is the only reason why anyone should want to go to Times Square.
Some news and notes from my fourth consecutive Tony Awards red carpet:
– There was a major scene change this year as the biggest night on Broadway moved uptown from 6th Avenue to… Broadway! The Tony’s were held at the venerable Beacon Theatre, the sister-venue of previous host Radio City Music Hall. Both buildings are managed by the Madison Square Garden Company. Instead of wrapping around the venue, this year’s red carpet simply stretched down two blocks from the front entrance of the theatre.
– It didn’t matter if you were Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr. or the guy in charge of lighting… if you were a part of the hit musical “Hamilton,” everyone wanted to talk to you. The production nabbed 16 nominations in 13 categories and took home 11 trophies. Tickets are impossible to come by unless you’re willing to refinance your house. Alex Lacamoire, who won the Tony for Best Orchestrations thanks to the musical based on Alexander Hamilton, smiled when I asked about the amount of ticket requests he has received.
“That’s wonderful because that means people want to see our show,” he said, in perhaps one of the bigger understatements of the evening. “So hey, no complaints.”
– Certainly Odom Jr. had zero complaints as he beat out his co-star Miranda for the Lead Actor in a Musical category. When I asked Odom if he and Miranda made a friendly wager over the Tony prior to the award show, he found the question so hilarious that he nearly spit out the water he was sipping.
– This was a first: two reporters next to me were hungry, so they decided to walk to a pizzeria, pick up a pie and bring the entire box, paper plates included, back to the red carpet. At least they shared (I did not indulge but they were very kind to offer).
– Neil Patrick Harris shouted, “Work!” when I asked him what inspired his new, shorter haircut. I was tempted to simply tell you that I asked him what his favorite Rihanna song was.
– Nice to see Sara Bareilles on the carpet; she said hello to me before her publicist dragged her inside so she wouldn’t miss the award ceremony. It has been a wonderful Broadway debut for the pop star: her musical “Waitress” nabbed four Tony nods including Best Musical and Best Original Score, which of course was penned by Bareilles herself.
– Of course, there are a lot of artists from all genres of entertainment on and/or involved with Broadway these days. The great Andrew Lloyd Webber offered an interesting response when I asked him about this.
“Providing that you’ve got the right people for the right roles, if that’s what you’re asking me, and they’re cast for the right reasons… that’s great,” the seven-time Tony Award winner, whose musical adaptation of “School of Rock” received multiple nominations, told me. “It really doesn’t matter who you have in a show. Like, ‘School of Rock’ doesn’t have a star, but at the same time it easily could. I mean, James Corden wouldn’t be bad in ‘School of Rock,’ would he?”