Monday, December 16, 2013

INTERVIEW: Lauralee Bell of The Young and the Restless on the Making of - A Dramatic New Series About Texting and Driving

"If I Save One Life It Will All Be Worth It" - Lauralee Bell Martin
                                                                                                                                                                                                 By Suzee
                  Download an E-CardMy son just turned 17 and got his license on his birthday. Here in NJ, the anxious kids get their permits as soon after they turn 16 when their parents realize the inevitable has approached, they shortly thereafter learn how to drive, they log in the required hours with a certified instructor, and the piece de resistance is being able to schedule their lesson for first thing in the morning the day of their birthday. That day the kids don’t care how early they have to wake up to get to the DMV. Then they proudly drive to school that day. So on this date of my son’s 17th birthday, he took the car to school after his successful driving test in the wee hours of the morning. 
Riley's first day with her new car

School lets out at 2:19 and he should have been home by 2:40 the latest. Time passed and I kept looking at the time. It was 3:00. I called him on his cell and he did not answer. That made my nervous but then again I always tell my kids (my older son already drives) not to pick up a phone while they driving, even on Bluetooth. I tell them to pull over safely and answer if they think it’s important.

A few minutes later after convincing myself he was alright, he walked through the door. I ran to the door and gave him a big hug, then delivered the warning. “First thing you do is tell me where you are going and when you will be home!” He answered, “Tommy (his BFF) wanted to go cruising so we cruised around for a few minutes.”  I replied, “That is fine but next time you have to tell me”.
In another household across the country, the same scenario played out in Riley’s house in California when she got her license on birthday (where the driving age is 16). Riley got a car for her birthday, and after the celebration, she took it out for a ride. This was every teen’s dream, freedom.

Riley was having a great week. Besides getting the freedom she yearned for, she was having some good luck with a boy she liked, Robbie. It was possible that he could become her boyfriend. So as she was out enjoying her first ride alone, Robbie was on her mind. Then, Robbie was on the phone. She knew this, because, like every teenager, the cell phone was in full view as she drove. She saw who the text was from. She knew she shouldn’t answer it. Her brain was telling her it could wait, but that teenage heart and that must-reply-instantaneously belief of the teen won out and she texted back.

Then the screen went blank. And her world was never the same.

What is by Lauralee Bell?

A Short Series of Videos on the Dangers of Texting and Driving Sure to Entertain and Educate

Lauralee Bell, award-winning actress, writer and producer, best known for her role as Christina Blair on The Young and The Restless has turned a tragic event in her life and a realization of  21st century life into a message for hope and change.

The site,, contains a series of 6 videos that depict a fatal event in the life of a teenage girl full of hopes and promises.

Laurlee Bell plays the mother. Cassidy Ann Shaffer (Kimmy from Disney’s Austin and Ally) plays the daughter Riley, who makes the fatal mistake of responding to a text from the boy of her dreams the first day she gets her license.

Also in the cast is: Brayden Shaffer (the brother), Peter Weber (the handsome beau), James Liebman (dad),  Howard Dell ( the doctor)  Sabrina Bell (friend) and Haley Ogas (friend).

Michael Strahan is 2014 Honoree for St. Jude's Legends for Charity Dinner

Archie Manning - 2013 Honoree
Michael Strahan
A great event for a great cause. To be held at the Grand Hyatt on January 30, 2014 proceeds go to help St. Jude's Hospital. Michael Strahan will be honored, so expect a room full of sports figures as well as soap and other celebrities. For tickets go to Tickets are $500 each. 

Gotham The Series Now Available on Vimeo on Demand

Martha Byrne's award-winning series about a couple re-uniting after many years, shot in NJ and New York is now available on demand.

Monday, November 25, 2013

RHONJ Stars Aligned for Dina Manzo's Project Ladybug Goddess Night Out

Dina Manzo, Project Ladybug Founder   Photos by Suzanne Curry
A Starry Night in NJ                            By Suzee

I had not been to one of Dina Manzo’s Project Ladybugs fundraisers yet, but there were five of them before this year’s. I have a feeling they got better with age as this year’s fundraiser was fantastic.

Held at the luxurious Venetian in Garfield (which used to be the old Cameo), the graceful European architecture and sweepingly grand high ceilings sets the stage for a truly mystical and magical Goddess Night Out.

Teresa was as sparkling as her Fabellini

It was billed that Dina was the host and the Teresa Giudice would also be there, as she was listed as a part of the organization. It was also publicized that Kathy Wakile would be there. I had not seen any mention that  Melissa Gorga was also going to be there so it was a nice surprise to see her there as well. Four housewives in one place with no fighting going on. :-)

Dina was dressed in her goddess best, an electric blue gown with a jeweled wreath in her hair, which was full of long curls. Theresa was stunning as usual. I don't think I've ever gotten a bad picture of her. She wore a silver, shimmery, figure-fitting gown which was like flowing tinsel and also wore a wreath on her head with her hair down for the event. Kathy Wakile went the traditional route of the goddess with a white, toga-like gown on with a simple belt. Melissa Gorga gave life to a perfect little black dress.

After you went in  the entrance there was long hallway lead you to the grand ballroom  illuminated by magnificent chandeliers. Right before the ballroom was the Step and Repeat area, which was accessible to everyone. Off to
Kathy had the Roman Goddess thing going on
the right of the room was what I will call the “basket” room, for lack of a better term. The over a hundred baskets were elegantly placed on tables in the center of the room.  Along the walls on both sides were vendors selling all kinds of wares that appealed to the Goddess in all of us, like blingy clothing and jewelry. There were two or three cupcakes vendors giving out cupcakes but it must not have been a cupcake-eating crowd  (it was a definite Spanx night)  and the other food was so good because there was a lot left over at the end of the night. For the more practical Goddess there was a wellness area where people could receive complimentary services. It was pretty busy.

Melissa Gorga speaks to's Heather Zwain
Teresa had a special table in the Grand Ballroom and was signing copies of her book amidst a backdrop of a Fabellini poster. There was always a line there because Theresa chatted and took a photo with anyone that asked.

As with all fundraisers, there was an introduction and thank you presentations. Dina Manzo took the mike and called the attention of the audience. She started out by thanking everyone who helped her - friends, family, volunteers and the other housewives, at which point in time they joined her in a line to her left. (See my other post for the video). She also thanked the staff of the Venetian for their hard work, and then with a smile said, "Yes, this was not held at the Brownstone, but it was just because they didn't have the right date available - don't read anything into that!" She also had her friend do a meditation, which was unusual for a fundraiser but nonetheless interesting.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dina Manzo's Project Ladybug; What is it?

Dina Manzo recently held her 6th Annual Project Ladybug Gala at the Venetian in Garfield, NJ. This event was entitled "Goddess Night Out " and was attended by over 600 people, which was capacity for the Grand Ballroom. Besides the atttendees, the vendors and volunteers, supporting her there that night were RHONJ Teresa Giudice, Kathy Wakile and Melissa Gorga. CC Sabathia's wife, Amber also supported the cause.

Project Ladybug is the brainchild of  Dina Manzo. She explains how it is run by women and states, "It is amazing what women can do when we all come together." During the evening, one of the speakers, Author Latham Thomas, said that it started with a "thought in her consciousness that became action".

Project Ladybug, simply put, helps children who are sick. If you are a mom or love a child, I think that anyone's biggest fear is the thought of that child getting sick with a deadly or chronic disease. Project Ladybug helps support the children and the families of those children at a local NJ Hospital, St. Joseph's in Paterson. Over a million dollars has been raised so far.

According to the website, "The Ladybug Fund at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital is an initiative dedicated to providing important resources to seriously ill pediatric patients and their families as they face lengthy treatment regimens. The Fund strives to help families face the financial and emotional hardships during their child’s treatment.  Project Ladybug will provide assistance to the patient and his/her family that is rarely given by other local and national organizations.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Update: Bad Parents Film by Caytha Jentis Premieres on HBO - This Comedy about Soccer Parents Stars Janeane Garofalo, Kristen Johnston, Cheri Oteri, Michael Boatman, Ben Bailey... and even a Real Housewife of New Jersey - Enter to Win a DVD Copy

By Suzanne Ordas Curry

Update: This is an updated article on Caytha Jentis' film Bad Parents, which as of January 2019 is now available on HBO. 

If you've got kids in sports, this is the movie for you to see. The move is a satirical slice-of-life film about obsessed soccer parents. That's enough said there if you have children or have been at any organized sport activity where the parents have just a little too much to do with what is going on. Or perhaps it will make you sit back and think.

Bad Parents is LOL. It stars Janeane Garofalo (Truth About Cats and Dogs, and Jerry's female equivalent in Seinfield), Michael Boatman, Kristen Johnston (Third Rock, Music and Lyrics), Cheri Oteri (SNL, Grownups2), and Christopher Titus (Titus). Also in the cast is Ben Bailey (Cash Cab), Reiko Aylesworth (Hawaii 5-0, Lost), and Rebecca Budig (All My Children) and Bill Sage (American Psycho).

Bad Parents was filmed in NJ by writer/director Caytha Jentis, who has not only several films on her resume including The One and Then Came Love with Vanessa Williams but also the highly successful "The Other F Word Series" about a bunch of interesting ladies going through their second chapters now showing for free on the www.The Bad Parents held a top spot in Redbox sales when it first came out.

Here's the trailer:

Fans of  the Real Housewifes franchise will enjoy looking for Jaqueline, though it's a brief cameo.. Caytha Jentis and and Producer Dorothy Fucito said that they were happy to have Jaqueline in the movie and that she was a pleasure to work with.


You can also enter to win a copy of Bad Parents on Just scroll to the bottom right of the homepage, enter in your email address and write "Bad Parents Movie Contest" in the box. (Your name won't be shared or used for anything but this contest.)

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Goddess Gorga's On Display Gets the Crowd Going at Dina Manzo's Project Ladybug Fundraiser

Dina Manzo hosted a grand fundraiser in NJ entitled "Goddess Night Out". This annual benefit raised money for Project Ladybug, Dina's own charity, which helps children with cancer and other pediatric illnesses at St. Joseph's Hospital in NJ and now also Sloan Kettering in New York (see other post for details).

RHONJ Melissa Gorga having fun on the dance floor
Billed as appearing were Dina, Teresa Giudice and Kathy Wakile. I think everyone was happy to see Melissa Gorga there as well. Part of the evening was dancing. Melissa was on the dance floor when her song was played, she seemed surprised. It's a great song to dance to.

RHONJ Cook Off #1 – Goddess Dressed Chicken Marinated with Yogurt & Fresh Herbs

Goddess Kathy Wakile shares a recipe to keep us all Goddess-looking
In honor of Dina Manzo's Goddess Night out  here's a recipe for a healthy goddess!

RHONJ Cook Off #1 – Goddess Dressed Chicken Marinated with Yogurt & Fresh Herbs

This recipe was shared by Blogger from

Di's Dish: A Tribute to Glee

Goodbye Finn, Goodbye Cory
GLEE puts together a superb tribute in “The Quarterback.”

I have been a fan of Glee from day one and have seen every episode.  Finn Hudson was one of my favorite television characters of all time.  He was lovable, talented, earnest, and was always trying to do the right thing.  The creators of Glee tackled a difficult subject with the untimely death of Cory Monteith, and they delivered a tasteful and moving episode.  They also delivered an essay on grieving.

The show opens beautifully with “Seasons of Love.”  The setting is spare and appropriate.  The song is performed by cast members past and present, grouped into sort of a pecking order.  This is a good choice.  As a fan of the show, I did not think the newer characters should have a central role in the tribute.  Their relationship with Finn was fleeting. 

Next we see Kurt preparing to travel to Ohio from New York.  Kurt is devastated of course, yet grieving with determination. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

INTERVIEW: Meet Actor Marc John Jefferies - Or Have You Met Him Before?

Marc John Jefferies Marc John Jefferies may not be a household name, but he's most likely been in your home on many an occasion.

When he was a very young boy he was a cast member of the illustrious and ground-breaking Cosby Show.  He's also been on such hit NBC shows as The Tracy Morgan Show, ER, Law and Order SVU, HBO's Treme and several others.
He's also done many voice-overs for TV and film. He's been in #Finding Nemo, Monster's Inc, Bill Cosby's Fatherhood, Justice League, Dexter and others. His movie appearances include Haunted Mansion (in which he played Eddie Murphy's son), Notorious,  Get Rich or Die Tryin', Spider Man 2 and Stuart Little. In a movie that also starred Halle Berry, Jessica Lange, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson Marc played the adorable and fought-over Isaiah in Losing Isaiah. 

Marc was nominated for 2 Young Artist Awards, one in 2002 for Best Performance in a TV Drama Series - guest starring Young Actor in The Practice (1997) and one in 2004 for Best Performance in a Feature Fill - Supporting Young Actor for The Haunted Mansion (2003.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Stories to Inspire: Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine

There is a commercial on TV now about children going through cancer treatments, and is shows the tiny victims playing in their bedrooms. In the background is the melodic Beach Boys Song "In my Room". It is very hard to watch.

Indeed, alone in one's room is where the fear of cancer or what is going with their bodies and their lives rears its ugly head. But to remedy this, in steps the beautiful face of a caring parent.

Ava Rasmussen is a little girl from northern NJ who is going through treatment for leukemia. In order to help her cope and answer her questions,

Friday, October 11, 2013

INTERVIEW: Behind the Scenes at a Reality Show - The Big Bang Theory Gets a Reality Check on Discovery Channel's The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius

A Behind-The-Scenes shot of the cast of the Big Brain Theory-Pure Genius

Did you ever wonder what it was like to get on or be on a reality show? Suzee goes Behind the Scenes with Eric Whitman of Discovery Channel's "The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius" who gives us a vivid picture of what it was like to "live" on a reality show!

Eric Whitman - The Big Brain TheoryMany thanks go out to Eric for this interview and his time. Eric is as near to a real Big Bang Theory cast member as you may find though he may not appreciate the analogy. Eric is a is graduate of Princeton University who studied Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He is currently in the Ph.D. program at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute specializing in bipedal walking.

If you didn't catch "The Big Brain Theory" while it was on, find it! The premise of the show was that a cast of very, very, intelligent individuals trained in engineering, science, physics and all those subjects that were the hardest in high school (for most people anyway) were challlenged to build structures and devices that would meet certain seemingly unattainable goals that made you wonder, "How the heck are they gonna do that?" There was a lot of blowing up things, robots, races and welding goin' on! I have to say, every project looked complicated, but read on, and you'll see if Eric thought so too.
SBTS: How did you get on the show? How did they find you? Did they seek you out personally (as some people for reality shows now are) or did you answer an ad?
I saw a link to the casting call on an internet forum associated with FIRST robotics, a high school robotics competition that I'm involved in as a mentor for a local team.

SBTS: What was the interview process like?
The casting call asked for some basic information and a paragraph about why I would be good.  I also made a video because it seemed like a good idea.  First they called me asking for a video.  I

Fashion and Charity Highlight Jersey City's Fashion Week

The catwalk at Liberty Science Center

The second annual Jersey City Fashion Week took place in various places in Jersey City, NJ in late September. Boasting local designers, merchants, fashion schools and sponsored by an array of prestigious and local businesses, it was a week to celebrate this up-and-coming, historic and yet struggling city. Credit is owed to the organizers, Desha Jackson, Program Manager for the DLJ Give to Life Community

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Book Review: Does Days of Our Lives Make Living Better?

James Scott and Kristian Alfonso
Television pundits may say soaps are not as popular as they once were, but you couldn’t tell that by the 250+ people lined up at Books and Greetings in Northvale, NJ to see several cast members sign their new book, entitled “Better Living”.

Being a soap fan for 35 years who has attended many soap events, the buzz on the line was still the same as it was three decades ago: fans asking each other about storylines, trying to figure out where the stories were going and adding in their ideas for future stories (basically, it’s who belongs with whom!). Even with spoilers, the prevalence of websites devoted to soaps and message rooms, the fans were still out and vocal. It was so pleasant to hear people actually talk in this electronic communication-obsessed world.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

NJ's Martha Byrne Joins Cast of New NBC Thriller "Crisis"

Two-Time Emmy Winning Actress Martha Byrne is busy filming the premiere season of NBC's Crisis. The political thriller will air on NBC after the Olympics. Starring Dermot Mulroney, Gillian Anderson and Rachael Taylor, this show promises to keep you on the edge of your seat.  Mulroney says that the show has "great characters, and you're never going to know what's going to happen next." Come back for 
exclusive news from Martha on this much-anticipated show.

Click for the Official NBC Trailer:

More on the show from YouTube:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Di's Dish: I Miss Hannah Montana

Editor's Note: We're all back from vacation and we have a lot to say. First, Di gives us her take on Miley, oh Miley. Miley, coming from a boomer who worshiped Gloria Steinem as a teenager, you have set us back decades. Tweets aren't everything.

My 14 year old daughter uttered those four words after watching Miley Cyrus' "performance" on the VMA's. I certainly agree with her summation.

I understand that the VMA's historically have been a platform for shock value. I watched Madonna roll around on the floor in a wedding gown singing Like A Virgin all those years ago. People were outraged then. But this just seems different, and worse. 

I have a lot of things to say to Miley.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

We Love Soaps: Rebecca Budig Plays a 'Mean Mom' in 'Bad Parents' ...

We Love Soaps: Rebecca Budig Plays a 'Mean Mom' in 'Bad Parents' ...: Are you the soccer mom or dad that screams at all the games? The parent that watches every move your child makes as well as every move ever...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Adam Sandler: Totally LOL

Adam Sandler 2011 (Cropped).jpg
I remember the first time I heard The Chanukah Song on Saturday Night Live. It was all the rage with my friends and I. Who sings that? He's so funny!! That was back in 1994. 

Two decades later he's turned that same zany, off-the-wall, out-of-the box and sometimes ridiculous sense of humor into a comedy empire. 

If you want a good laugh, and have a good sense of humor,  his movies will make you laugh. Not every movie is for everyone, and perhaps there are people out there that don't think he's funny, but his movies span a wide range of topics and emotions. Though some are more appealing to the male gender, the majority are funny to anyone with an appreciation of his style of humor, which is consistent throughout his movies, except for perhaps his more serious movies, like Click or Spanglish. To

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

VH1 Star/Billboad Top 40 Recording Artist Jackie Madden Releases New Song: TASTE

Philadelphia - Jackie Madden, Billboard Top 40 Recording artist and star of VH1’s reality series “You’re Cut Off” announces the release of hew newest single,"Taste", as of July 16th on Beatport and Itunes worldwide via 418 Music/INgrooves Fontana. Taste mixes a dance techno beat with sultry and melodic vocals. Written by Jackie Madden and Aaron Scott, it was produced by award-winning Stephen “Mr. Mig’ Migliori, a mutliplatinum producer who has worked with such tops artists as Taylor Swift, Beyonce and John Legend. Jackie previous release, Fallinglanded her the title of  #2  Billboard Breakout Artist on the Dance Chart and the song climbed into the Billboard Top 40 Dance Club/Play Chart (April 2011), proving there is life after a reality series. This is her fourth song released.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

JerseyGirl Teresa Giudice Talks Jersey Shore

RHONJ Teresa Giudice signing her book Fabulicious! On the Grill
There are some things that bind us to each other, that create our common culture. Given that we are one big nation, yet a composite of many states, our common culture varies from one part of the country to another. In New Jersey, and I believe some neighboring states, one thing that binds us together is the place where most of us have some of the fondest memories of our lives, the enduring Jersey Shore.

Teresa Giudice talking to a fan at Gina Avino's Artistic Design Studio
Though I am not a fan of the reality show Jersey Shore, it is unfortunate to say that some of the culture portrayed in that show is real. I am not referencing the behavior of the participants so much as the activities; walking the boardwalk, hanging out on the crowded beach under a colorful umbrella, playing the games of chance, eating a chili dog or a Kohr's cone. Though the show did not give a good name to the shore what it did do is  bring attention to it. A few years ago while Snookie and the Sitch were at their peak, I remember listening to a radio show  in which a caller from the Midwest said how she cancelled her vacation to Bermuda to go to the Jersey Shore because she wanted to see what it was all about. If she only visited Seaside my guess is that Bermuda made the top of her list the next year. But each shore is unique, you've got it visit each one to see what fits you best.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Interview: Two-Time Emmy Winner Martha Byrne Gets Ready to Bring "Gotham" to TV

Martha was part of the As The World Turns cast for almost two decades. She grew up on the soap and is a respected actor and producer in the industry.  After ATWT went off the air, she put together her own "soap" on the Internet. This continuing drama, called "Gotham" is in the process now of production for broadcast TV as well as multiple digital platforms. With the resurgence of some popular soaps, and now the recent news that the OWN Network will now show them, Martha's show is at the forefront of the new wave of popularity for soaps. 

Come back to this blog for more interviews as we follow Martha through the production process. Please "Like" GothamTheSeries on Facebook for the latest updates.

SBTS: What are your fondest memories of being on ATWT?

I specifically remember my first day. I was not the first actress to play the role of Lily. I was chosen from my original audition six months prior when the actress who was chosen left abruptly. I was called on a Friday to start the following Monday. Who knew I would stay for 19 years?? There are so many wonderful memories, but at the end of the day, it's the family aspect of the job that stays with me. There is no other job like it in the world. When you do a film or TV series, it ends after a few weeks or in rare cases, a few years. Working on ATWT brought a lifetime of relationships which are very intimate and stay with you. Over the 19 years on the show, I got married, had three babies and won a few Emmys in between. It was a great ride.

SBTS: What inspired you to create your own series for the Web? 

I wrote an hour pilot script for Gotham in 2007 and shopped it around to different production companies for television broadcast. At that time soap operas were on the downslide. No one wanted to touch it. As a member of that community, I knew where it was failing, I was living it. Elements of the genre weren't being given the attention needed to survive, from a creative prospective. You must do what's good for the show for the long haul, not make a quick decision that could impact the institution of these shows for years. Daytime shows used to have a Bible of six months of story, carefully mapped out, that disappeared. Shows would tape two-three weeks in advance when they were thriving, so if a story was tanking, it could be fixed. Due to the desire to save money, shows began to tape two-three months ahead which created the obvious problem. It was cost effective, but created other challenges. Just a few examples of what was trending at that time. The audiences voiced their frustrations by tuning out.  They want smart, thought provoking stories and when you don't respect that, you're doomed. I wanted to produce a show that was story driven with great characters that gave the audience a playground of thought. After a few companies passed on the show, Lisa Brown said, "Let's do it ourselves for the web." 

SBTS: What was the most fascinating aspect of putting together your own show on the Web? The freedom to do anything you want? The ability to produce content and deliver it quickly? 

The best part of doing a project for the web at that time was the freedom to learn. It was still considered artists just messing around on the web, because there was no money to be made in the eyes of the industry. We knew it was the only medium that would embrace what we were doing and watch. I didn't want to just talk about making something with integrity, I wanted to see if I was right about producing something at a reduced budget without sacrificing quality. I learned quickly what worked and what didn't, so now moving forward I know we are well versed on how to maximize our success.

SBTS: I heard your show was nominated for several awards. Can you tell me about that? 

Roger Newcomb at We Love Soaps ( has been the biggest champion for indie soaps. Gotham won an Indie Soap Award in our first year. In 2010 we were nominated for an Emmy in a new category designed for content for the web. It was a great pat on the back for the work we had put into the show. 

SBTS: What was production like for your webseries? Who did you work with? 

The beauty of having worked in daytime television for so long, I had built in relationships with friends in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Our crew was mostly made up of people I worked with on ATWT. The cast was graciously filled with actors I had worked with or were recommended by friends of mine in the business. All professionals working for the greater good to keep soaps alive.

SBTS: Are you excited about bringing Gotham to television? 

Very. It has been an incredible roller coaster ride and every day there is another challenge. After working on the web where it has been called the "wild west", now going to broadcast we have a lot more rules and regulations which I embrace. We're playing in the big leagues now and I couldn't be happier. 

See our "Gotham" page for video and other updates.

RHONJ Linda from the Gym Speaks: You've Gotta Shake Things Up


Tips from the Gym...

In the RHONJ episode airing June 16th Teresa's friend Linda, who we had never heard from on the show, was at the gym that Teresa and Linda always worked out at and in popped Jaqueline, Melissa and Kathy who apparently had never been to that gym.  

Linda was dumbfounded. She immediately let Teresa know. And then the drama started.

I met Linda at one of Teresa's book signings. Ladies in the crowd were recognizing her and so I went over to talk to her about it.

"They NEVER come to our gym," She said. "I knew they were filming that day but I wasn't expecting that, and it ended up being a big deal."

Linda from the Gym, aka Linda Berger is very different from the persona portrayed on the show and she said she was not exactly thrilled with the editing. She can often be found at the gym - which certainly explains the lack of anything jellylike on her physique - because not only does she work out, but she is an AFAA trainer. Brains behind the beauty, I also learned she was a Certified Public Accountant, having graduated from Rutgers University. A fellow alum of mine, she was very well spoken.

"Okay then, Linda,", I said, seeing how I had a personal source now of fitness tips, "Seriously, tell us what the secret is."  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BIg, Rich Personalities: Meet the Ladies of Big Rich Atlanta

Sitting next to Sharlinda Parker, Kahdijiha and Sabrina "Brie" Rowe was like chatting with a bunch of girlfriends. They were warm, personable, open and fun. Definitely  people that you would want to hang out with.

Of course, meeting anyone for the purpose of an interview is different than meeting them for a different reason, but I am a pretty good judge of character from being on this planet for so long, and these ladies were genuine. We were at the same event in NY with Perez Hilton and they were happy to talk about their new show. 

Because there are so many ways of getting on a reality show, my first question was, "How did you get on the show?" (And check back soon for my post, "How to Get on a Reality Show"). Their answer was what I had been finding lately: Kahdijiha said they were personally asked. This seems to be how a lot of people are getting on shows as of late.  This could be because producers are more particular about what kind of person they want for their show; perhaps they want to bring something new to the table or to duplicate a successful model. However, I have heard of many people turning down being on a reality show so I also think casting has become more difficult and specific.

Kahdijiha said that she had been recommended by people in Atlanta to the producers, "because they knew us and they knew my dad." She said, "My dad was an popular R & B singer from the R & B Band 112 (Quinnes "Q" Parker). "

I asked her how it was all going.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Perez, Patti and Poppin' Tags

I love that song by Macklemore, okay some of the words are not quite presentable, but the beat is great is to dance to, and that's just what people were doing at the Viva Diva Wines Poolside Summer Bash with VIP Host Perez Hilton at NoMa Social in New Rochelle, NY.

This was a great celebrity event, as far as events go, not so much because of the celebrities that were there but because of the ability to mingle with them. There was one roped off area, visible to all in the cozy but chic NoMa Social main lounge, but really the celebrities were  interspersed within the crowd in the lounge area, the step and repeat area and poolside and they were eager to talk and pose for photos. Only Perez, adorning a shirt with a not-very complementary photo of Amanda Bynes on it (which could have easily been mistaken as one of Lindsay Lohan) and Patti Stanger (Millionaire Matchmaker) were guided through the areas, but even even they took the time to pose for photos when asked. 

Being in a rather out-of-the-way place for celebrity events, the occasion did bring out several  well-known faces and many up and coming stars, mostly from reality shows. However, the words "Who is that?" could often be heard in the crowd,. Even though I had prepped myself on who was going to be there I still had to ask. It is very hard to keep up with all the reality shows! Among those gracing the step and repeat were Christina Milian, Jonathan Cheban (E! Network), Amanda Bertoncini (Bravo), many from the cast of Big Rich Atlanta, Carla Facciolo (VH1), Brittany Smooch, recording artist and Tracy Di Marco (Style Network). 

I had the pleasure of interviewing some of the cast of Big Rich Atlanta and the very cute Brittany Smooch (Come back next week for interviews!)

The event was put on by Illumination PR of NY.  I have to say the wine was flowing although one had to search out the food, but that is  expected at an event like this. I also have to say that the wine was quite good. A friend of mine commented that the sparkling Moscato strawberry version was "a lot like fruit punch". It was but in a good way, sweet, fruity, almost like a wine cooler but less sweet. I would recommend it, especially at a summer party. 
To learn more about upcoming celebrity events in this area, follow this blog.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Press Release: Gotham is First Serial Drama (non-comedy) to go From Web to TV and Digital Platforms

Martha Byrne's Emmy-nominated Web Series “Gotham” is First Serial Drama (non-comedy) to Cross Over to TV & Digital Platforms; Distribution of New Episodes by simplyMe

Gotham is a serial drama written by two-time Emmy-winning Actress/Producer Martha Byrne and Emmy-nominated Actress/Director Lisa Brown. Started successfully on the Web with an Emmy nomination, it is now coming to traditional TV and multiple digital platforms.

NYC - New original episodes of the Emmy-nominated web series Gotham are coming to television and all digital media. Gotham is a continuing serial drama written by two-time Emmy-winning Actress/Producer Martha Byrne and Emmy-nominated Actress/Director Lisa Brown.
Brown and Byrne have worked in the world of daytime television for over two decades each and created Gotham for the Web in 2009 to celebrate the classic storytelling of the serial drama and as a “thank you” to the fans for their continued support. Byrne states, “Lisa and I are thrilled to be working with simplyMe to create new episodes of Gotham. We believe in the value of good storytelling and simplyMe is giving us the opportunity to share our new journey with our fans.” The new episodes of Gotham will be distributed by simplyMe and produced by Gotham Productions LLC. SimplyMe CEO Krystol Cameron states, "It brings us great pleasure to provide Gotham distribution over our cable and digital TV channels nationally. Gotham, once enjoyed by consumers on the Web, will now go mainstream on and offline with new original episodes. It is a thrill for me and my staff to work with the Gotham team and seasoned veterans Martha Byrne and Lisa Brown.”
Gotham will follow the same storyline as Expect to see notable actors from daytime drama and television to populate the cast. Rich and captivating storylines will cover youth as well as adult topics and trends. Set in New York City, the show follows the lives of Catherine Prescott (played by Martha Byrne) and Richard Manning (played by two-time Emmy winner Michael Park), meeting up again unexpectedly after their lives followed different paths. Will fate give them a second chance?
SimplyME Distribution is a media distributor dedicated to the needs of independent content providers in extending their value propositions over such names as Dish Network, NBC, Time Warner, NBC, ABC and independent TV stations nationally.
Martha Byrne is a nine-time Daytime Emmy Award nominee and two-time Emmy winner. She is best known for role on the CBS Daytime Drama As the World Turns where she portrayed Lily Walsh Snyder and her twin sister Rose D'Angelo. She has also appeared on General Hospital and was a scriptwriter for The Bold and The Beautiful. She also holds numerous magazine awards and three National Viewer's Voice Awards. As a singer, Martha has released two CDs. She was also the Executive Producer for the award-winning film, "Bye Bye Sally", starring Malin Ackerman. Martha created and is the Executive Producer of the web series Gotham (, in which she also stars in. Gotham was nominated for an Emmy in 2010 and won an Indie Soap Award In March of 2013. She is also co-owner of Full Circle Talent Agency, LLC in NJ, a talent training and management business.
Lisa Brown is best known for her role as Nola Reardon Chamberlain on Guiding Light. After her successful run as Nola, Lisa went on to play Iva Snyder on As The World Turns, a role which garnered Lisa two Emmy nominations.Throughout her expansive career in show business she starred on Broadway in 42nd Street and also appeared in many other theater productions. She has a strong presence behind the camera, as an acting coach and also as a producer and director, having directed videos for MTV, FUSE, MTV2 and her son Buddy Nielsen's band, Senses Fail.
For more information also visit Gotham The Series on Facebook and Martha Byrne @GothamTheSeries.
For press inquiries please contact Suzanne Curry of WI Public Relations

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Not Your Grandma's Soap

I have been working with Emmy-winning actress Martha Byrne, best known for her role as Lily Walsh Snyder on As The World Turns  for a few years now. After the show went off the air, and us soap fans were starving for more content,  Martha co-created a series/soap for the Web, called Gotham. I am very excited to say that this  Emmy-nominated webseries (yes, I did say "Emmy" again!) is coming to TV this year AND to digital platforms, which means, you can watch it just about anywhere and everywhere you want to.

But first, a little bit of history. If you are not familiar with web soaps, they are different than traditional afternoon soaps. They are shorter, for one thing, and the sets, hair and makeup are not what we are accustomed to. There are a whole lot of them out there, often referred to as "indie" soaps, and they feature many of the characters we are used to seeing on our TV sets. The storylines are also sometimes different than what you would see on the boob tube, basically anything goes.

Now let me speak to the word "soap". The term "soap opera"  is sometimes a turnoff to anyone who thinks 30 is old. I asked my son's girlfriend, who is 19, if she would watch a new soap and she said, "No, that's what my grandma watches in Poland.". Soaps clearly have a bad rap with the millenials.

I have been watching "soaps" since I was 16. It all started when I was home from school for spring break and there was nothing else but game shows to watch. Now, that may be hard to believe now but in the 1970's  there really wasn't much on TV for a teenager to watch and Monte Hall was not as pleasurable to watch as was Drake Hogestyn. I tell my kids that the only kid's shows that came on were a few after school on Channel 5 and then some on Saturday morning. I can still sing "Exercise, Exercise", and then find myself  "freezing". Ah, the good ol' days. But not really. We did not have much of a selection. Until the Partridge Family and Brady Bunch came into our lives. Ahh, now that was good TV.

But back to "soaps". Traditional soaps have a very slow pace. Martha's "Gotham" does not. The storyline is easy to follow. I watch "Revenge" and some other serial dramas and the story moves so fast I sometimes have to think why things unravel the way they do. But then again many times the plots do not make sense, so it's better not to think.

I recently read some pieces by Lynn Liccardo, an icon in the "soap" world, and she spoke of  "vertical storytelling". This is when you know each of the characters and their history because they are more like real people than fictional characters, so what they do and how they interact makes sense. However, this knowledge only comes with knowing the characters for a long period of time and this is the benefit of daily "soap operas". There were also weekly shows back in the 80's, like Knots Landing (one of my all-time faves), Dallas and Dynasty, that were  pretty much  "night-time soaps". If you compare what happens in one episode of  Revenge these days it is pretty much the entire season of one of these night time "soaps".  Not only would the viewers have known "who shot JR" the next week but they would have found out on some spoiler alert on the Internet before then anyway.

Content has had to change with the medium. If I missed Marcia getting hit in the nose with a football I would have had to wait to see it when it was repeated at the end of the season. I much prefer the 24/7 availability of content we have now, though working a VCR was a lot easier than using 4 remotes to access Netflix.

Gotham is more like a night -time soap. It is a serial drama, and you will get to know the characters well, but it is not your Grandma's soap! It only has one year on the Web, so the stories are easy to catch up with, but they'll be a great recap for the first episode. Expect to see some great storylines with people of all ages, engaging characters, suspense, drama, glamour, romance, and a cast of known faces and some upcoming stars.

I've posted the official press release and video in my next post.  Be sure to "Like" on Facebook!