Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Unsilent Night": Boombox-Toting Parade-Goers Carol Through the Village

The procession began at Washington Square Park near the Christmas tree.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

This was one of the most unique events I have attended and I am so glad I got the chance to cover it. We have all heard of groups Christmas caroling and singing their favorite seasonal songs. But how many of us have ever seen or even heard about groups serenading their city by caroling with instrumental music? That's exactly what this is and it was a really neat experience.

Phil Kline started this event in 1992 with a few friends and a song he composed and now thousands of people turn out with their boom boxes, iPods, and all other types of speakers to electronically carol around the Village - from Washington Square Park down to Thompkins Square Park.

If you ever are in New York (or any of the other cities participating in this event) I highly reccomend you go!

Check out my NBC photo gallery from the event.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rivals Joy Behar, Bill O'Reilly Pal Around at White House Christmas Party

Co-hosts of 'The View' Barbara Walters and Joy Behar
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
'Tis the season to bury the hatchet.

"The View" co-host Joy Behar said she and outspoken pundit Bill O'Reilly came face to face at President Obama's Christmas party at the White House last week and were able to move beyond their bitter back-and-forth stemming from O'Reilly's remarks about 9/11 that caused the daytime talk show host to walk off the set of her ABC show in October.

"I took a picture with him and I even gave him bunny ears," Behar said Sunday night during an appearance at the 92nd Street Y. "Let bygones be bygones."

During the Christmas party, she also lobbied Michelle Obama to get the commander in chief to make a cameo on the show.

"I said, 'Listen, he was on a show called 'Myth Busters' last week and now he needs to come on my show,'" Behar quipped. "She told me, 'I'll see what I can do.'"

Behar, 68, is best known for sitting alongside Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck as co-host on the daytime talk show "The View," a group she calls a "big family." She and Goldberg both walked off the set after the Fox News host said, "Muslims killed us on 9/11." The incident led to both sides trading barbs in the weeks to follow.

"Barbara didn't like it, but I did it anyway," Behar said of her walk out. "It was a complete impulse in a moment of rage."

She added: "They're my family and that's one of the reasons I'll never leave. It's fun mostly. I don't feel stressed about that job."

Aside from doing "The View," Behar started her own celebrity and news commentary show on CNN called "The Joy Behar Show." She says that if she could have any guest on her show, dead or alive, she would pick Jackie Kennedy.

"I probably could never get her on the show though," Behar said. "But Barbara could get her. You know her... she's relentless."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"30 Rock" Star Judah Friedlander: Tina Fey Is Always "Several Steps Ahead"

Judah Friedlander refers to himself as "the world champion."
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Judah Friedlander, who is best known for his role as Frank on the hit NBC series "30 Rock," revealed over the weekend that his favorite part of working on the show is interacting with the other actors and writers -- especially Tina Fey.

"Tina is great, and she she's so smart," Friedlander told Niteside. "She's such a clever writer and is always thinking several steps ahead. It's so nice to work on a project like '30 Rock' where they've thought ahead on just about everything."

Alec Baldwin is also someone Friedlander said he enjoys working with on the show, especially when they joke around on set.

"He's so much fun to hang out with and goof around with on the set," Friedlander said. "He's got great energy and great charisma and when you get to work with him, he brings out the best in you."

Friedlander, who did two stand-up comedy shows at Comix in the Meatpacking District Saturday night, also said that he personally designs all of the iconic trucker hats his character wears on the show.

"Some are jokes I've thought out in advance, others are jokes I've thought of last second and some are inspired by what's going on within the script," Friedlander said. "One to three times per season, [the writers] will write the hat and work it into the storyline and do some jokes with it, but pretty much it's me doing all of these."

He added, "I always try to make it add to the show and not to distract from it."

Friedlander recently released the book "How to Beat Up Anybody," which teaches readers how to fight foes such as ninjas and Bigfoot and even your very own shadow.

He often refers to himself as "The World Champion" and said he has an "extra dark black belt" in karate.

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Victoria's Secret Model Selita Ebanks Scores New BET Show

The kind and glamourous Selita Ebanks.

Victoria Secret fashion model Selita Ebanks revealed to Niteside recently what she has in store for the future.

"I'll be hosting a fashion show on BET," Ebanks said at a holiday benefit in Manhattan, where celebrities helped wrap over 2,000 toys for younger foster children.

Ebanks was mum on any further details of the show, but did share news of a book on female empowerment she is working on, which is due out next year.

"The book is real personal," Ebanks said. "It's little antidotes and things I've learned. It's not just about modeling. It's about being successful as a young woman."

This is Ebanks' seventh year as a Victoria's Secret Angel and she said she was "stoked" to watch the annual fashion show with her "Angel family."

While one of her favorite perks of modeling for Victoria's Secret is the free underwear, she says that being able to learn from the pros makes her job ideal.

"I have had the opportunity to work alongside Gisele [Bundchen] and Tyra [Banks]," Ebanks said. "I've worked with some of the most beautiful women in the world and they've taught me a lot. They're all my heroes."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Singer Jay Sean: I Am Prepared to Face My Digital Death

Singer Jay Sean faces a social media death.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Singer Jay Sean detailed his plans to stage his death on social media last night. 

"I'm officially dying on social media," Sean told Niteside before performing at the New Yorkers for Children's 8th annual "Wrap to Rap" holiday gift-wrapping event at The Ainsworth in Manhattan Tuesday night.

"If we just tell them they're not allowed to get any tweets from us until they donate some money [to charity], we're not going to come back on Twitter."

Sean said that he and other celebs staging social media deaths -- Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, and Kim Kardashian, among them -- home that some of their combined 28 million Twitter followers will donate to the "Keep a Child Alive" charity, founded by Alicia Keys, who started this Digital Death Campaign. 

"I think it's an amazing tongue-and-cheek way to give everyone a nudge to do the right thing," Sean said.

Sean recently recorded the song "Every Part of Me" with British pop sensation Alesha Dixon, who he said he has wanted to work with for a long time.

"We have wanted to work together for ages," Sean said. "We got this smash of a song together and I'm super excited about it."

He also said they will be filming the music video for this song in New York City in about three weeks.

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Designer Zac Posen Reveals His Prediction for Fashion's Next Big Trend

Fashion designer Zac Posen.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images


Designer Zac Posen revealed last night what he believes will be the next major fashion trend: homemade, vegetable-based dyes.

"I think people using their own dyes will become a trend," Posen told Niteside at the Wrap to Rap holiday gift-wrapping event at The Ainsworth in Manhattan Tuesday night. "I think people will find their own color and take cues from home decor, which is always interesting."

He added, "[Vegetable dyes] and other certain dyes are such a s trong influence on eco and these techniques are very useful and exciting."

Posen said he is currently working on his fall collection, finalizing patterns and fabrics. He said all the details aren't in place yet, but that he sees a definite theme among his pieces.

"I think there's a strong architectural and anatomical quality to them," Posen said. "We make clothing that always relates to the body and glamour and quality."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Robert DeNiro Is "Spiritual Magnet" of Tribeca Film Fest, Says Co-Founder

Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Craig Hatkoff.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Craig Hatkoff said fellow founder Robert DeNiro has unique pull when it comes to the 10-year-old film fest.

"Bob is the spiritual magnet of this project," Hatkoff said Friday at the 92 Street Y in Tribeca. "When Bob is in New York and not shooting a movie, he is at a lot of the events. He likes going and he goes quietly and often won't tell anyone he's coming. He just shows up and supports it."

Hatkoff, wife Jane Rosenthal, and DeNiro created the festival to help revitalize Lower Manhattan in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The idea was conceived when Hatkoff and his wife were having dinner in Little Italy shortly after the attacks, he said.

"We originally projected it would be something small, maybe a couple dozen films," Hatkoff said. "We never imagined to have the 160 films like we did or the 150,000 people show up."

With the integration of "Tribeca Film on Demand" this year, Hatkoff says he is happy they had the opportunity to have the films seen by more people. But nothing can replace the experience of watching films in the theater, he said.

"Nothing will ever replace being in the room when the lights go down," Hatkoff said. "Watching the films at home can be inferior as long as it gets the job [of reaching more people] done."

The 2011 festival will run April 20 through May 1.

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tim Gunn Defends Book's Unflattering Anna Wintour Depiction

"Project Runway" host Tim Gunn defended his decision to keep the controversial anecdote about Anna Wintour's diva behavior in his book during a talk in Manhattan last night.

"[It's in there] because of the aftermath," Gunn told the audience at 92nd Street Y in the Upper East Side Sunday evening. "There are three aspect to it: don't bully, don't threaten and accept responsibility."

In his tome "Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making it Work," the fashion guru details how Wintour allegedly had her bodyguards carry her down the stairs rather than take the elevator following Peter Som's 2006 fashion show at the Metropolitan Pavilion.

Gunn also confessed he "never dreamed" he'd be part of the wildly successful fashion reality TV show in which his wry use of phrases such as "Carry on" and "Make it work" became part of the zeitgeist.

"I never dreamed that I would be part of it," Gunn said. "No one was more shocked about it than I."

He added, "I loved taping season one. It was entirely a new life experience for me. I had never been part of anything like that."

Gunn also said fashion reality TV contestants aren't guaranteed fame like many in the reality TV music industry.

"I don't for a moment want to trivialize 'American Idol,' so forgive me in advance," Gunn said. "If you are an alumnus or an alumna of 'American Idol' you could potentially hang your shingle outside, fill this beautiful auditorium and sing to them. For a fashion designer, it's much more complex. The designers who have been on the show can only achieve as much as their ambitions and their resources really allow them to."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

My story lead the NBC New York home page and was linked up in the celebrity entertainment section in the other nine NBC local-media markets: Miami, Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Connecticut, and Dallas-Fort Worth. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"West Side Story" Lyricist Stephen Sondheim Reveals His Showbiz Regret

The talented lyricist, Stephen Sondheim.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

"West Side Story" and "Sweeney Todd" lyricist Stephen Sondheim confessed there is one musical he regrets not having a role in during his distinguished career.

Promoting his new tome "Finishing the Hat" at Barnes and Noble in Union Square last night, Sondheim said he wished he could have worked on the 1961 Broadway production "Carnival" starring Anna Marie Alberghetti.

"That is a show that really resonates with me," he said to the audience, "and I wish I could've had my hands on it."

The acclaimed 80-year-old lyricist also discussed his great mentors, such as iconic playwright Oscar Hammerstein II, and pointed out that his new book reveals some never-before-seen lyrics.

"I wanted to tell people my opinions on lyric writing and that's where this book came from," he said.

The hardest part of penning lyrics, he said, is encapsulating a sentiment in a concise way.

"When you're dealing with lyrics, less is more," Sondheim said. "I like to tell stories with my lyrics and you only have a short piece to do it with so you can't waste words."

He added, "One of the things people have a hard time with when writing lyrics is they repeat the same thought or concept instead of adding something new."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Portia De Rossi: My Secrets Made Me Sick

Portia de Rossi speaks about her book "Unbearable Lightness."

Starlet Portia de Rossi said the burden of keeping her emotions bottled up and her eating disorder hidden made her ill.

"It's a classic, stupid thing to say, but the secrets make you sick," de Rossi said. "I had to come out as having eating disorders and only by doing that could I really, truly say that I'm fully recovered."

De Rossi, 37, promoting her memoir at an Upper East Side Barnes and Noble over the weekend, said she battled anorexia from the start of her career as a model at age 12 until the time she played Nell Porter on "Ally McBeal" in 1998.

"I became aware, by the end of the book, that while I was really talking about wasn't my eating disorder and it wasn't my sexuality, it was this struggle for self acceptance and to be able to just feel comfortable in my own skin," de Rossi said of her tome "Unbearable Lightness."

De Rossi, who came out in 2005, has credited wife Ellen DeGeneres with helping her come to terms with her identity and said Friday night she found writing the book to be cathartic.

"It sounds very selfish in a way, but I really wrote this book for myself," de Rossi said. "I wrote it for my teenage self. I wrote it thinking that it was the book I wished I could've had access to when I was suffering so deeply from the disorder and struggling with my sexuality."

She added, "When I first realized that what I was writing was going to be called a memoir, I thought, I'm only 37. It just sounded so grandiose ... Then I thought, I'm not going to write about the event that happened in my life, I'm going to talk about the events that happened in my head."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Joel McHale "Excited" to See The Boss

Joel McHale on the red carpet at the New York Comedy Festival.


On the television sitcom "Community" Joel McHale plays the leader of a motley gang of community-college students, but in real life last night he was psyched to meet another top dog -- The Boss.

"I'm excited about seeing Bruce Springsteen," said "The Soup" host of one of the evening's performers at the fourth-annual Stand Up for Heroes benefit for American war veterans, kicking off this year's New York Comedy Festival. Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, Tony Bennett, and Rosie O'Donnell also appeared.

The Bob Woodruff Foundation partnered with the New York Comedy Festival to put on the event, held at the Beacon Theatre on the Upper East Side.

"I think any time you can get anyone out and laughing it's a good thing," McHale said.

While many major stars turned out, McHale said the ones who deserved the most attention were the veterans.

Injured troops need lifelong care and there needs to be awareness of that and more funding for that," McHale said. "They have made such an incredible sacrifice that it's the least we can do."

And to those who might wonder why it works to mix comedy with such a serious subject, McHale simply said, "Why not?"

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Comedian Tom Green Reveals 2011 Movie Release

Me with Tom Green at Comix on Friday night.

Tom Green hasn't disappeared, he's just been hanging out in his living room -- with thousands of fans.

The comedian and actor, who was briefly a tabloid fixture of 2001 for his short-lived marriage to Drew Barrymore, has in fact been very busy as of late. Green continues to host a popular internet show out of his house, he began a stand-up comedy world tour earlier this year, and on his stop in New York City this weekend, he told NiteSide that he just wrapped filming a movie, "Prankstar," which he wrote, directed, and stars in.

"It will be coming out in a year or so," Green said before his Friday night show at Comix Comedy Club in the Meatpacking District. "[Movies] have always been something that I enjoy doing, but it takes such a lot out of you when it comes to directing and writing a movie. It's a little bit too slow of a moving machine for my attention deficit disorder, so I think I'd like to do one every few years."

As for other people's pictures, Green said he would like to see the latest "Jackass" movie, but his tour schedule has prevented him from going.

"I like 'Jackass' and I know some of those guys," Green said. "I'm sure it's awesome."

In 2006, Green started an online talk show, "Tom Green's House Tonight," where he interviews celebrities at a studio he built in the living room of his Los Angeles home.

"It's the longest running online talk show in the history of the Internet and the highest rated," Green boasts. "I was the first one to do it and I'm still going."

Green starred in the MTV his series of the late 90's, "The Tom Green Show," which was well known for its shock humor, but was discontinued around the time that Green was diagnosed with (and later successfully treated for) cancer. Now he says that even though he enjoyed doing the show, he doesn't really miss TV.

"I get literally just as many viewers on the web show," Green said. "[Now] I have nobody really telling me what to do and I can basically do whatever I want creatively and that's a lot of fun. I'm really in control of my own little business."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Famed Playwright Neil LaBute Battles Stage Fright

Playwright Neil LaBute spoke at Powerhouse Arena in Dumbo, Brooklyn.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

"In the Company of Men" playwright Neil LaBute said he felt on edge about the Thursday night debut of his latest show starring David Duchovny and Amanda Peet.

"It is an exciting and horrifying thing," the famed scribe known for his dark and comedic explorations of morality told an intimate crowd at the Powerhouse Arena in Dumbo last night about the debut of his latest work, "The Break of Noon."

LaBute, whose "Reasons to be Pretty" was nominated for a Tony in 2009, read from the new work, which chronicles the life of an employee who claims to see the face of God following the worst office shooting in America. LaBute also read from past work and shared a short story he wrote just that morning for the event.

"I'm happy I still have a pleasure for writing," LaBute said. "I sit down and write things because I like it, not because it's for anything, but because it's a pleasure to do it."

LaBute also revealed why he tends to weave in corporate culture into his work. He said his fascination with business jargon developed when he worked for a software company while studying at NYU.

"I loved the sound of the foreign language that I didn't understand in the offices," LeBute said. "Nobody ever seemed to really be doing anything but would say, 'I have this meeting and I have to file a 507 later today.' I loved the banter and I've put that into the world of the offices I write about."

"The Break of Noon" is debuting at the MCC Theater in Manhattan tonight.

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Model Helena Christensen: My Bond With Naomi Campbell

Danish model Helena Christensen at the Boom Boom Room.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Model Helena Christensen said she and close pal Naomi Campbell have a bond built on their experiences during the early days of their forays into fashion.

"I shared a lot of unique moments with her," Christensen told NiteSide at the "Free the Slaves" benefit at the Boom Boom Room Wednesday night. "We were very young, and we stayed very close throughout all the years and had some really amazing times together."

She added, "It's very rare moments when we get to hang out again, but when we do, it's like we were never apart."

The Danish model said she is next off to Nepal with Oxfam.

"It's a really great organization," Christensen said. "I went to Peru to photograph the changes of the climate and the effect it had on the indigenous people it had in the mountains, and now we're going to Nepal to do the same because there's a big climate conference coming up next year."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"What Not To Wear's" Clinton Kelly Reveals Secret to New Book: Tourists!


Fashion guru and "What Not to Wear" co-host Clinton Kelly told the crowd at 92nd Street Y last night that many of the style mistakes mentioned in his latest book came from an afternoon he spent sitting by the window at a Times Square Starbucks.

"I just watched all the tourists go by," Kelly said during the final stop on the tour for his new book, Oh No She Didn't: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them. "I kept writing down fashion mistake after fashion mistake after fashion mistake. In the time it took me to drink one tall latte, I had 85 of the 100 mistakes."

Kelly also addressed his relationship with "WNTW" co-host Stacy London.

"Stacy and I get along really well," Kelly said. "We are great friends at work and we make each other laugh every single day. I guess we're lucky like that."

Kelly divulged his fashion do's and don'ts, drawing on stories from the show as well as his latest tome.

"Sweat pants are the devil," Kelly said. "They will only make your life worse. Only wear sweat pants when you are sweating."

He also advised all women to only use fashion magazines as a tool to learn about the latest trends, not to define your personal style.

"Style is how you take fashion and make it your own."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Russell Brand: "I Am Excited About Getting Married"

Katy Perry and Russell Brand are expected to wed soon.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images


British comic Russell Brand said he was thrilled about his upcoming nuptials to pop starlet Katy Perry.

"I will say I am excited about getting married," Brand said Wednesday night at Barnes and Noble in Manhattan while promoting his new book "Booky Wook 2: This Time It's Personal."

"It's a lovely thing to get married. I think it's a peaceful thing and I'm very happy about it."

The couple got engaged last year, but Brand remained mum on the details and did not reveal a specific date or place for the wedding.

In lieu of a traditional reading, Brand interacted with the wall-to-wall crowd -- answering their questions and telling jokes. He humorously informed fans "that man on Facebook is not me."

While Brand's fiance is busy with her concert tour, the "Get Him to the Greek" star started a weekly radio show on the UK station talkSPORT earlier this month, which follows him on his book tour for the next 20 weeks.

Brand also revealed last night that before too long he will have another radio show to tune into -- this time it will be in the states.

"There will soon be a new radio show on Sirius," Brand said. "Look out for that."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Comics Still Reeling From Loss of Greg Giraldo, Says Pal

Comedian Joe DeRosa at Comix.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer
The New York comedy community is still reeling from the shocking death of "Last Comic Standing" comedian Greg Giraldo, according to fellow comic and pal Joe DeRosa.

"It was a very hard thing to wrap your head around," DeRosa told NiteSide at Comix in Manhattan this weekend.

"He's definitely left a tremendous void in the business, and I think particularly in the New York comedy scene because he's here. I feel lucky to have known the guy in the way that I did."

He added, "He was the life of the party, would light up a room, always had a smile on his face, always funny, always charming, and one of the best comics ever to grace the business. He's very, very missed."

DeRosa met Geraldo, who passed away on Sept. 29 at age 44 of an accidental drug overdose, after he moved to New York from Philadelphia a few years ago to pursue a career in comedy. DeRosa said he stumbled into the business by accident when a club manager in Philly asked him to tell jokes during Monday Night football halftime breaks.

"I always enjoyed trying to be funny, and making people laugh is nice," DeRosa said. "But the thing to me that was always so incredible is that a group of people would listen to your thoughts and opinions."

He idolized the acts of men already in the industry, including Giraldo, and also George Carlin, who DeRosa had a brief phone conversation with a few years ago.

"When I tell you that is probably my most robust comedy memory, I'm not exaggerating," DeRosa said. "I just admired the man at such a level that even just to talk to him for five minutes ... that moved worlds for me."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ari Berman at the White Slab Palace Bar
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Political journalist Ari Berman told NiteSide at "The Little Idea" rally last night that there is a core group he feels is being affected the most by the bad economy.

"The people who are really getting hurt by the economy are Obama's base -- young people, minorities to some extent, single women -- these are the ones who are really getting hit hard," Berman said at the White Slab Palace Bar in the Lower East Side. "They expected a change and now they're getting the short end of the stick with the economy."

Berman, a reporter for "The Nation" magazine, touches on this in his book, "Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics," which was released this month.

"Basically if you have a catchy title, you have to have a clunky, long subtitle," he joked. "But the subtitle is indicative because the book is about the evolution of the Democratic Party in American politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama."

Dean, the former Governor of Vermont, was unsuccessful in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and Berman felt this was an important story to include in his book.

"I wanted to tell the story of the grass roots political movement that propelled Barack Obama to the White House," Berman said. "I felt like a lot of the books about Barack Obama, while a lot of them were very good, were missing that story."

He also felt it was crucial to visit states such as Indiana, Colorado, and North Carolina for his research so he could see how campaigners "turned these red states blue."

"I felt like then I wouldn't just have a book about politics," Berman said. "I would also have a book about the broader view into what is happening in the country.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Arianna Huffington: 9,000 Have Signed Up For Bus Ride to D.C. Rally

Arianna Huffington after speaking at the White Slab Palace.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Arianna Huffington said more than 9,000 have taken her up on her televised offer to bus anyone interested from New York to Jon Stewart's rally in D.C. later this month.

"I'm expecting more to join us," Huffington told NiteSide at "The Little Idea" rally at White Slab Palace in the Lower East Side Wednesday night. "I'm sure Jon Stewart will be there too but probably the day before."

Though the media maven shocked "The Daily Show" audience on Sept. 28 when she offered free buses from her offices in SoHo to the Oct. 30 "Rally to Restore Sanity" in D.C., she had an agenda of her own last night: promoting her latest book "Third World America."

"We aren't a third world yet but are an interjectory to be a third world because it gives it a sense of urgency," Huffington said. "I talk about what we need to do to revitalizing ourselves, the community, and the country."

She encourages everyone to remove funds from big-time banks and instead invest in their local counterparts as part of her Move Your Money campaign.

"While money controls politics, we are less in control than we should be," she said. "Ultimately, the ones who are in control are the ones who are giving the big donations and sending the lobbyists up on the Hill."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Girls to the Front" Author Sara Marcus Pushes Punk Rock and Lady Gaga

Sara Marcus at her book launch party in Williamsburg.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

It is possible to be a fan of both subversive punk rock and pop music's biggest current star? Author Sara Marcus thinks so. She recently wrote "Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution," the first book to document the history of the underground, feminist, punk music movement of the 1990s. Turns out, though, she now also admires Lady Gaga.

"I have to say, even though I'm not a fan at all of Lady Gaga's music, I really have a lot of respect for the way that she's using her celebrity as a platform to be a beacon of hope to the freaks and the misfits among today's teens and adolescents," Marcus said. "You don't see very many mainstream artists speaking specifically to those kids the way that she does."

Marcus celebrated the release of her book Saturday night at the Williamsburg venue and bar, Bruar Falls.

Growing up in the midst of this feminist punk scene inspired Marcus to write the book. Having the support of Riot Grrrl superstar and former Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna (who is married to Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz) sure didn't hurt, either. 

"[Hanna] told me that she was really glad I was the one doing this," Marcus said. "So that was really helpful and really encouraging."

Marcus also said that while thousands of scholarly papers have been written about this generation of underground music, she wanted to be the first to write a narrative book about it, in order to make sure everything was captured correctly.

"It just seemed like if I didn't write it based on the experiences of me and the people that I knew, someone else was going to write the book," Marcus said. "And they would write it about this distorted idea and the real power of [the movement] was going to be lost."

While she had an array of legendary sources for her book, Marcus says her favorite was a woman connected to and a big fan of the Riot Grrrl scene, but whose name was never in the headlines. 

"Mary Margaret is in the book from the beginning right through the very end," Marcus said. "She let me into her life in this profound way that it influenced the way that I approached the book. She instilled me with this great sense of awe and humility and the responsibility I had to honor the lives and experiences of everyone in the book. It really set the tone for everything."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Singer Brendan James: American Idol is "Not For Me"

Me and Brendan James backstage before his concert at the Highline Ballroom.

Singer-songwriter Brendan James, who released his self-titled album earlier this month, says he could never be a contestant on American Idol.

"It's just not in my blood to [have] that much enthusiasm to sing without an instrument and sing someone else's songs," James told NiteSide before his concert Wednesday night at the Highland Ballroom in Chelsea.

The Los Angeles-based crooner has had his music featured on popular television shows including "Private Practice," "Bones," and, most recently, "One Tree Hill."

"I was so glad they picked that song ("Your Beating Heart" for "One Tree Hill")" said James. "That ballad is a really broken down song on the album."

While James has performed with some top-shelf artists, including Carol King, The Frey, and a Cat Stevens-endorsed children's choir, there is someone he still hopes to collaborate with one day.

"I would like to sing with Sara Bareilles," said James, of the 30-year-old singer-songwriter and pianist. "I think it would be a cool duet. I just like her sensibility and she puts a lot of thought into her lyrics like I do."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Author Don LePan Says an "Ethical Impairment" Inspired His Novel

Don LePan during his reading at KGB Bar in the East Village.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Author Don LePan, reading excerpts from his latest fiction work at KGB Bar in the East Village over the weekend, said the inspiration from his tome came from a passion to stop factory farming.

"It was an ethical impairment, really," LePan told NiteSide. 

"I'd been really upset about factory farming and I thought surely I can write something to make some kind of contribution to the effort to stop factory farming. The moment I had that thought, within 30 seconds, the story line for it came together in my mind."

LePan read from his book "Animals" Sunday night at the venerated watering hole, which hosts Sunday Night Fiction where emerging writers come to reveal their work. Though the scribe said he felt reaction to the book has been positive, he hopes to reach more people. 

"I only feel it would be a success if the numbers (of people reached) were far, far larger," LePan said. "'Black Beauty' had a huge impact on the treatment of horses in the Western world and it would be great to have an impact like that."

While he does feel passionate about the issues he addresses in this book, LePan is shifting gears for his next novel, entitled "1940."

"It is a romance novel based on my parents situation," LePan said. "Its' a very different sort of novel."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Author Matthew Pitt: "It's Like I Make a Mold and Then Immediately Break It"

Matthew Pitt at his book reading at KGB Bar.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Author Matthew Pitt moved from New York City three years ago but returned last night to read an excerpt from his book at the KGB Bar in the East Village. He told NiteSide last night that the greatest challenge he faced in putting together his new book was his own style of writing. 

"I tend to put myself in a corner because the stories never seem the same from one to the next, so they're often wildly different in subject matter, tone and the type of character that I'm investing into that particular story," Pitt said. "It's like I make a mold and then immediately break it, which is exciting for me. I like that restlessness."

"Attention Please Now" is a collection of stories, which Pitt said was a long time in the making. 

"It's been ten years since I wrote the first story," Pitt said. "But after doing ten drafts or so, I got to a point where I was proud of it."

While he says the plots of his stories don't have a common theme, his characters do have one thing in common.

"They're all living a moment where they look around and they're on a high wire and there's no net beneath them," Pitt said. "They're at that point in their live where they have to decide, 'am I going to make it all the way across or am I going to jump or what's going to happen?' It kind of captures them at moments of crisis."

Pitt said he draws off his theater background to create characters but sometimes wishes he could draw off his own adventures. 

"I am really envious of friends that can take pieces from their own experiences and craft them into stories," Pitt said. "I am not able to plagiarize my own life."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Author Behind New Robert Pattinson Flick Says She Was Stunned by Set

Sara Gruen signed books after her reading at Barnes and Noble in Union Square.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

The animal-loving author behind the film "Water for Elephants" starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson said being on set of the silver-screen adaptation of her book was surreal. 

"When we came down off the hill and looked onto the set, it took my breath away," New York Times bestselling author Sara Gruen said during a reading at Barnes & Noble last night. "Five years ago it was in my head, and now it is real."

Gruen, reading from her latest tome, "Ape House,"said she and some family members have cameo roles in the film, which is due out next Spring. The idea for the second tome came while she was preparing to go on tour for her first book. 

She was fascinated by communicating with chimps "in our language or in theirs" and eventually joined forces with the Great Ape Trust to interact with bonobo apes in Iowa, she said. 

"I brought (the apes) fleece blanket, Mr. Potato Head, Slinkie's, Rubik's Cubes and anything I thought they would like," Gruen said. "But I think the key is M&M's. They love M&M's."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Green Day Front Man: "American Idiot" Was Inspired by 9/11

Billie Joe Armstrong (third from the left) on stage for "Idiot University" on Friday.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong said the mega-hit "American Idiot" -- which led to the creation of a Broadway musical of the same name -- was inspired by the terror attacks of Sept. 11.

"I remember seeing those planes smashing into the World Trade Center live. Right there," Armstrong said during his appearance on the Broadway stage Friday night with "American Idiot" director Michael Mayer for a talkback session dubbed "Idiot University."

"I don't think we ever really, as a society, we had never seen anything that implicit. It was just chaos. I was so confused. I felt paralyzed. So the song 'American Idiot' was the first thing that came to mind."

Select audience members of five performances last week had the opportunity to attend the talkbacks after the show, which also included four cast members and a few members of the creative team. 

Armstrong, whose "American Idiot" album focused on American society in the early part of the decade, said watching the band's music performed on stage is a different experience from listening to the record in a traditional setting.

"With me, Mike (Dirnt) and Tre (Cool), we are the three pieces, and it's like we're fighting," Armstrong said. "And that's been the main argument with the band is us fighting to hear ourselves. [In] the show (on Broadway) the music is pulled back and the vocals up front, it adds a whole new dimension to it - a whole new dynamic."

He said many of his songs sound better when coming from different voices -- especially female vocalists.

He added, "A lot of them sound better than I do. ... They're just beautiful singers all around. They could sing the freakin' dictionary. It's amazing."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inside the Boss Models Fashion Week Bash at the Maritime Hotel

Mike Stylezz and Carly Nikole outside at the Mario Moya after party.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer
It is Fall Fashion Week in New York City and I went to the after party for the Mario Moya show. It was at the Cabana at the Maritime Hotel, which has a partially open rooftop area. Check out my photo gallery from this event.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Jonathan Franzen: Being Named Great American Novelist Felt "Validating"

Author Jonathan Franzen, lavished with praise for his most recent tome "Freedom," revealed last night why he wasn't surprised when Time magazine named him the Great American Novelist last month.

"I sat with the photographer three weeks earlier so it was not a total shock," Franzen said Wednesday night during a reading at Barnes and Noble in Union Square, "but it was validating and nice to hear."

Franzen's latest work is his fourth full-length novel and follows the path of a couple from their first meeting through their marriage and their reflections on family.

"I really have no opinions about the American family," Franzen said. "I only know one and that's filtered through an emotional underworld. I'm dubious on even my reliability on my expertise with my own family. But I do know there will always be parents. There may not always be siblings, but there will always be kids and parents."

The author's last novel -- "The Corrections" -- was selected by Oprah for her Book Club but was later dropped when Franzen said he thought the talk show queen's seal on his work would turn off men. He declined to comment about whether he's spoken to Oprah since the 2001 incident.

After a book tour, Franzen says he will be taking some time before penning his next novel.

"It takes me a long time to write a book because I need to feel like I have something new to say," Franzen said.

After the book tour, Franzen said he may do more reporting on wildlife akin to the piece he wrote in July for The New Yorker about the savage hunting of birds.

"I was literally stepping out of my novelist practice and into being a journalist," Franzen said. "It's a big problem to get people interested in our environment, but that's as far as I'm going to step out of being a novelist for now."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Author Taylor Plimpton Details Nightlife Dalliances in New Tome

Author Taylor Plimpton at McNally Jackson Bookstore
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Author Taylor Plimpton, son of former renowned Paris Review editor George Plimpton, detailed on Monday his dilliances in New York nightlife, stories that are chronicled in his new tome.

The 33-year-old, who spent long nights in Manhattan clubs to research his book, discussed his zest for nightlife and read from his part-memoir, part-guidebook "Notes From the Night: A Life After Dark" -- his first tome -- Monday night at McNally Jackson Bookstore in SoHo.

"When I go out I feel that excitement in the pit of my stomach and that hint of possibility of what the night holds," Plimpton said last night. "When I go out I don't want to go home. If I'm out, I want to see the whole night through until dawn when there's nothing left to find."

"I really like to get every last bit of it."

Plimpton, whose father was considered a literary tour de force, said it took him six years to research and write his book, during which time he would venture into clubs to observe people and document the scene. Citing Avenue as one of his favorite hot spots, Plimpton said the club scene is a tough industry to crack.

"Generally, it's a vicious circle," he said. "Either you know someone at the door or you don't -- and if you don't, you're out of that loop. And sometimes they'll say you need girls to get in, but we need to get in to get girls so it's a circle."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, August 23, 2010

"American Idiot" Co-Stars Take to the Stage as Hip Hop Duo Fran Sancisco

Me with the guys from Fran Sancisco at the D-Lounge.

"American Idiot" co-stars Brian Charles Johnson and Chase Peacock, accustomed to sharing a Broadway stage, made a different kind of debut in New York over the weekend. 

The actors, who met in San Francisco as they were working on the Green Day-inspired rock musical, took to the stage as hip-hop group Fran Sancisco Saturday at the D-Lounge in Manhattan. 

"We liked this hip-hop and R&B vibe, and I had a real hankering for an outlet," Peacock told NiteSide.

The project began as a handful of songs and collection of inside jokes between "American Idiot" cast members. 

"We got this amazing response that we weren't prepared for," Johnson said. 

The duo also received a blessing from "American Idiot" director Michael Mayer, who told the pair, "Hey, you guys do not stop making this music," according to Peacock.

"So that was huge for us," he added. 

Johnson and Peacock, who are now working on their first album, said playing music on stage is far different from performing on the Great White Way.

"On stage [for 'American Idiot'] we have choreography and places to be," said Peacock, "and when we're doing our own thing it's just two guys on stage with microphones."

Johnson said he finds up-and-coming artists like Kid Cudi inspiring, and Peacock said he considers Chris Brown to be one of his role models.

"I got obsessed with Chris Brown and would watch all of his videos and would dance in my mirror to the music videos," said Peacock.

And, of course, both cite Green Day as having been influential in their careers. 

"Knowing Green Day for so long and watching them as a kid and seeing them on TV and now I'm hanging out at their house and they're asking me if I want anything to eat," said Peacock. "It's just an amazing thing." 

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Friday, August 20, 2010

O.A.R. Bass Guitaris Benj Gershman Wants to Relay Messages With His Photos

me and O.A.R. guitarist Benj Gershman at the Morrison Hotel Gallery.

O.A.R. bass guitarist Benj Gershman is also involved in photography and he told NiteSide that besides snapping pictures of people and bands, he wants to use his photography to relay messages to the world.

"I want to have a whole other side of photography that is just social messaging," Gershman said. "I'll have a lot of them revolve around my passion for our environment and a lot of them with my view on America and telling the story about the world we live in right now."

Gershman premiered his "Rock Cause (O.A.R.)" photography exhibit last night at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in Manhattan. This exhibit profiled experiences of O.A.R., and he said there are other types of bands he would like to create a similar project about.

"What intrigues me is a lot of the bands that look like they're from the 70s and the people that have that style that they're not in this modern era, like Kings of Leon or Edward Sharp and the Magnificent Zeros," Gershman said. "Those kinds of bands have such a magnificent style."

Gershman, who has shot a Dave Matthews concert, said photography started out as a hobby for him but eventually became a passion.

"I just sort of found it and fell in love with it," he said.

Gershman got his first camera from his father about a year after leaving college. He experimented with it while he was on tour with the band and realized photography wasn't as easy as he expected.

"I wasn't good at it at first and that pissed me off," Gershman said. "I had to really work at it and figure it out. I can't tell you how frustrating it is for me as a person to not get something right. Mistakes for me are hard to swallow."

He kept taking photos, not only to get better at it but also just to capture what he and the other band members were experiencing during that time in their lives.

"I realized that our band was going through things that wouldn't last forever," Gershman said. "We were changing and our music was changing. I wanted to capture it and savor it a little bit."

After developing a better understanding of photography, Gershman says it comes more naturally for him than it used to.

"When I look at things now, I don't just see the whole thing," Gershman said. "I'm looking at tones and I'm looking at the back lighting. Those things happen much more instinctually than they did early on."

Gershman says that his band mates used to tease him about always having a camera with him, but always encouraged him and even later asked for his advice.

"They've gotten some cool cameras and I've been fortunate enough to lend some tips their way," Gershman said. "They're the most supportive guys in the world and I'm lucky to have them get it like that."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Songwriter Brendan James: My Must-Have For Making Music

Singer-songwriter Brendan James at the VH1 Save the Music fundraiser.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Singer-songwriter Brendan James, who is releasing his self-titled album in September, told NiteSide he can't write a song without sitting at a piano. 

"When [the song] hits me, I have to find a piano quickly and get as much creativity out in that time span and then it leaves me," James said Thursday at the VH1 Save the Music benefit at Bowlmor Lanes in Gramercy. "I can find inspiration anywhere, but I have to be at a piano to write."

The Los Angeles- based crooner will have his music featured on the trailer for the upcoming Reese Witherspoon and Jack Nicholson flick "How Do You Know?".

"I'm really happy about it," the up-and-comer said. 

James, who said he has been compared to Ryan Adams and Elton John, isn't sure how to classify his music but hope it resonates with fans. 

"I don't know how to classify my own music," James said. "I guess it's pop music with hopefully some meaning. That's the goal."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

The Plain White T's: Next Album Will Not Be All "Boy-Girl Lovey-Dovey"

Me and Tom Higgenson from The Plain White T's

Rockers The Plain White T's, best known for their Grammy-nominated love ballad "Hey There Delilah," revealed to NiteSide last night that their new album may stun fans.

"You'll be surprised by this album," lead-singer Tom Higgenson said Wednesday night during a VH1 Save the Music benefit at Bowlmor Lanes in Gramercy. "It's a little different for us, but still very honest and sincere and catchy. We wanted to explore some different themes."

"Not all the songs are boy-girl lovey-dovey. We went a little bit deeper."

The band performed acoustic versions of "Boomerang" and "Rhythm of Love" -- two songs from their new album -- Wednesday night at the Manhattan bowling bash. Singer Higgenson said the latest album, "The Wonders of the Younger," is a bit more reflective than records past.

"The more life you live, the older you get, the more you kind of lose that innocence and that wonder that you have when you're young," said Higgenson. "Not that you want a bunch of 40-year-olds running around acting like kids, but to hang on to a little bit of that wonder I think is important. Hopefully, this record will help people reconnect with that a little bit."

And although the Plain White T's have topped the charts with "Hey There Delilah," which they also performed last night, the group is attempting to reach the top several more times in their careers.

"The Beatles had 27 No. 1 songs, so we want to have 28," said Higgenson. "So yeah, we have pressure to live up to those songs. Our song '1, 2, 3, 4' didn't quite crack number one, so we're still 27 away."

Guitarist Tim Lopez, who wrote their current single "Rhythm of Love" about an ex-girlfriend, said achieving this goal all depends on the fans: "It's not us who decides how big [the songs] get," said Lopez. "We write them, we pen them, and then it's out of our hands."

Added Higgenson: "We just try to make the best music that we can that we feel passionate about and whatever else happens, happens."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Personal note: Talk about an amazing group of guys. Hanging out with the Plain White T's at Bowlmor Lanes last night was an absolute blast. They are really kind people and very, very talented.

Inside the Bowling Bash at Bowlmor With the Plain White T's

The Plain White T's performed on a stage right over the bowling lanes.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

VH1 held a bowling fundraiser at Bowlmor Lanes in Manhattan to benefit the Save the Music foundation with a special guest acoustic performance by The Plain White T's.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Night With East Village Radio DJ's Two for Tennis

Tim Lee, me, and Messenie from "Two for Tennis" at East Village Radio.
check them out online at


Radio hosts Tim "Love" Lee and "Coach MP" Mike Messenie, the pair who make up DJ duo Two for Tennis, spend Tuesday evenings spinning at the streetside East Village Radio studio -- but the real show is often outside. 

"We get a lot of strange looks, but I give a lot of strange looks," said Messenie, as a group of tourists stopped to snap photos outside the small, glass-front, mirror-walled space that serves as the station's studio on 1st Avenue and 1st Street in Manhattan. 

"One of the greatest things about New York is to people watch, and we are sitting in front of a gigantic window on the corner of 1st and 1st -- the nexus of the universe -- just observing people walk by. Everybody is represented on this corner -- a guy walks by, crying, drinking a 22-ounce Budweiser and then a lawyer will walk by."

"We see everything."

Two for Tennis -- which lists Steely Dan and Gentle Giant among their musical favorites and boasts listeners from the UK, Australia, and Asia -- has watched as confused passerby walk into the studio, mistaking it for a bar or club or some sort of dance party.

"Because of the mirrors, we have people wandering in thinking they're walking into this happening joint and it's just me and Mike in here," Lee said. "But sometimes people stay and we've ended up with nine or ten people all crammed into this little room. Several times it will turn into a mini night club back here just by people coming in by accident."

Lee and Meesenie said the spontaneity of the show adds to the experience and is even reflected in the music they play. The DJs pride themselves in not having a set list of songs and say it's part of what adds character to the show. 

"There's always a solution to not having a plan," Messenie said. "If you can't think of one thing to play, play five things."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Inside Showbiz Boss Jim Caruso's Cast Party at Birdland

Arianna performed her song acapella last night at "Cast Party."
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Co-Anchoring the Live "NYU Tonight" News Broadcast

I co-anchored NYU Tonight's live weekly night news broadcast on March 25, 2010.
I've had requests to see it, so here's the video.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Inside the WAVES Fundraising Party at 2 Cooper

Matthew Catalano, Jessica Ping DePaira, and Joe Lee at the WAVES party.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

WAVES for Development, a group that bridges a passion for surfing and volunteering, held a fundraiser party at 2 Cooper Square in Manhattan last night. This is the gallery I put together from the event:

Author Martin Amis: Sex Scene in Latest Work Was Easiest to Write

British author Martin Amis signed books after his talk at Barnes and Noble.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer


British author Martin Amis spoke about his experiences in penning the scandalous sexual scenes in his latest novel "The Pregnant Widow" last night during a rare reading by the venerated scribe in Union Square.

"The climactic sexual scene in this book is pornographic in nature and that was the easiest part to write about because emotion is divorced from it," Amis told a crowd at Barnes and Noble Wednesday night.

Amis describes "The Pregnant Widow" as a story about a man in his early 20s overcoming "the sexual revolution." The semi-autobiographical novel was originally due out in 2008, but underwent a series of edits and alterations delaying its release date until this year.

"There has to come a point where you say, 'I'm not going to speculate about what 20-year-olds think about sex' because it's just not right," Amis said.

Amis said he reads books by authors of his same age, his father's age, or a generation behind his father.

"Reading the latest contemporary writers who are 24 is nothing I want to do," Amis said. "They don't have a large enough repertoire of work yet."

"The Pregnant Widow" is Amis' 14th book, but he said he still faces a firing squad of critics.

"In America, you're only as good as your last novel or your last picture, that's the motto," Amis said. "But in England, you're not even that good."

Amis also had some advice for those considering writing a book.

"If you are thinking of writing your first novel, I have a rule to cheer you up," Amis said. "Remember that your first novel won't be perfect. You need to forget about perfection and you need to trust your own voice."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Personal Note: Martin Amis said something I really liked, but that didn't really fit in my story, so I'm including it here: "Writers die twice. They have the death of their talent followed by the death of the body."