People of the Year — 10. Hayden Panettiere

rm_people04.jpgOh, to be young, rich, and synonymous with the most memorable TV catch-phrase of the year. “Save the cheerleader, save the world� didn’t just turn Heroes into NBC’s only new hit show, it also made Panettiere—the indestructible, cut-off-a-toe-it-grows back cheerleader character—into a household name. She’s since appeared on the covers of Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, and Vanity Fair, all before turning 18. After recently moving from Palisades to L.A., she also became a spokesperson for Neutrogena and the “Got Milk?� campaign. Of course, with that kind of positive exposure also comes the other kind—daily videos on TMZ.com and nonstop blog buzz about her rumored boyfriends. Only problem: This fair-skined blonde isn’t your typical teen-star train wreck. She doesn’t drink, smoke, or have run-ins with the law. By all accounts, she’s as pure as the driven snow.

Prediction for 2008: Provided she doesn’t get caught up in any of the usual Hollywood trappings (like, say, that other kind of snow), Panettiere has a bright year ahead, with the continued success of Heroes and a role in the upcoming Julia Roberts film Fireflies in the Garden.

Adapted from “People of the Year,� Rockland Magazine, December 2007

(Illustration by Ismael Roldon)

‘History of Howard Stern’ spends 90 minutes on Westchester days

howard.jpgThirty years ago, Howard Stern launched his career as a professional deejay in Briarcliff Manor. The radio world would never be the same.

With Stern and his crew off for holiday break, Sirius satellite radio has been broadcasting the premiere of “The History of Howard Stern� in lieu of his live morning radio show this week. Featuring first-person interviews and narration by Jim Forbes of “Behind the Music� fame, the first 90 minutes of Tuesday’s broadcast alone were dedicated to Stern’s days spinning vinyl in Briarcliff and plugging various businesses and events throughout the Lower Hudson Valley.

“My first radio job really was WRNW in Westchester and that was a very difficult situation for me,� Stern said during the special. “I was not a good broadcaster; I was not a good straight broadcaster, and I wasn’t thought of much.�

Recently completing his second year of a five-year, $500 million contract at Sirius satellite radio, Stern said he launched his full-time career with a $5,000 annual salary on Jan. 1, 1977 at 107.1 FM. He was 11 days shy of his 23rd birthday.

“My first shift, when I got on the air, I was so nervous my hands were shaking,� he said. “The station was empty, thank God, because it was New Year’s morning. I hit the button to play the record, the whole board jams up. I must’ve hit it too hard.�

Reflecting on the incident with sidekicks Robin Quivers and Artie Lange, Stern said he woke up the program director when calling him in the ensuing panic.

“The engineer came in and started yelling at me – this big fat guy – and he fixed it at some point, I guess,� he said. “And all the other jocks heard me and they think I was horrible. I was the laughing stock of the station. The program director was going to fire me, I heard, because I woke him up. And again, I had to beg for his mercy. I said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ He goes, ‘You’re terrible; you’re horrible.’ It’s a miracle I sit here today.�

In addition to Briarcliff, check out the “King of All Media’s” direct connections to Armonk, Elmsford, Tarrytown, Bronxville, Scarsdale, White Plains and Yorktown after the break.

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People of the Year — 11. Peter Kelly

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Kelly was already a legend in Rockland thanks to Xaviars, Freelance, and Restaurant X—all perennial Zagat darlings. But when he took down celebrity chef Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, all of a sudden he became famous to a national audience. Then the May opening of X20 in Yonkers further cemented his rock-star status. As for those people just discovering our hometown hero: What took you so long?

Prediction for 2008: It would be tough to top 2007, but we do have two ideas: First, how about an X20 in Haverstraw? Second, after making mincemeat of Flay, it’s time to do battle with Mario Batali.

Ed. Note: Kelly was one of the only celebrities to score a “People of the Year” trifecta — making our lists for InTown Westchester, Rockland Magazine, and Suburbarazzi. Well done.

(Photo: Tom Nycz / The Journal News)

Now hear this: Kevin Kline stops ‘Cyrano’ to answer audience member’s complaint

tjndc5-5dum0xi15n71gg1r955s_layout.jpgGarrison resident Kevin Kline was a show-stopper in more ways than one for a recent staging of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” according to a report by Cindy Adams in today’s New York Post.

In the middle of a packed house for a Wednesday night performance of the Broadway revival, a “little bald old man” in row Q yelled “Speak up louder!”

Reports Adams:

<blockquote><div>

Kline never faltered. In character, right in the middle of his scene, he adlibbed, ‘Methinks I hear ghosts in the theater.’ The audience broke up. They applauded. And the play moved right along. But from then on, the speech level didst indeed kick up a notch.

</div></blockquote>

Personally, I would have preferred if Kline broke into mime for the remainder of the show, but he’s a classier guy than I am.

(Photo by Michal Daniel)

Mount Vernon man (eventually) gets call from Chaka Khan

chaka.jpgChakaChakaChaka — ahem — Chaka Khan chatted on the phone for five minutes last night with Mount Vernon resident Ted Amoruso, a fan who won a contest for promoting her show via his MySpace page.

The only catch? After being told he would receive Khan’s khall at 4 p.m., he didn’t hear from the pop/R&B star until 7 p.m., according to Journal News reporter Aman Ali.

But before you say, “I Feel For You” to Amoruso, he said the wait calmed him down:

<blockquote><div>

I’m actually glad the call came later because almost all of my nervousness went away by the time she called.

<div></blockquote>

I’ll use up my puns (I’m not exactly Chaka full of them) by saying that “Ain’t Nobody” does Amoruso better and that he didn’t incur any wrath of Khan. Ahem.

Check out Ali’s full article and the exclusive LoHud.com video interview with Amoruso.

(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Sextortionist sent to the slammer for 21 months

After an unusually protracted, painful pre-trail period, Jessica Wolcott has finally been sentenced. Or as the NY Post so artfully put it: “The soda swindler is headed to the can.” That swindler is, of course, the girl who attempted to extort $125,000 from Pepsi exec Gary Wandschneider, and was then subsequently nabbed by the Feds after her mark spilled the whole story in August 2006.

On Dec. 13, Judge Kenneth Karas imposed a 21-month jail term, effectively rejecting please from Wolcott’s attorney, Susanne Brody, for leniency. According to The Journal News account, Wolcott had told friends in email that “she would get ‘a slap on the wrist’ if she got caught,” and Judge Karas in turn “threw those words back at Wolcott, 23, yesterday, sending her to prison for 21 months and calling her a grifter and a con artist.”

Among the other details in the two accounts of the sentencing:

• The judge did not determine what kind of monetary restitution Wolcott would pay.

• Wandschneider either made close to $1 million a year, according to TJN, or $6 mil a year, accoding to the Post (not to play favorites here, but $1 mil sounds far more plausible).

• Wolcott will begin serving her sentence on Feb. 1.

 The Post interviewed Kyle Strait, her ex-husband (who Suburbarazzi also talked to a year ago). We’ll let him have the last word on this subject …

<blockquote><div>

“Jessica has a lot of problems. Anybody can look at the things she’s done in the past and see she needs psychiatric help . . . She’s volatile, and this isn’t going to help. While she’s sitting in a cell, she’s not going to get the help she needs. I was kind of pulling for her. She needs to be doing normal-people things. She needs be in school. Her mind is going to spin out of control.” </div></blockquote>

“Woman who extorted corporate exec gets 21 months” [LoHud]

“Gal gets popped” [NY Post]

(Photo courtesy Kyle Strait)

People of the Year — 12. Ellen Burstyn

burstyn.jpgThe 74-year-old film icon lit up the small screen this year with a memorable stint on the polygamy soap Big Love. But it was her new memoir, Lessons in Becoming Myself, that landed Burstyn a seat on Oprah’s couch. In the book, she shares the story of her abusive childhood and her troubled former husband, who stalked her for years, and eventually killed himself. The Nyack resident also told the big O about her recent Buddhist “street retreat,� in which she slept on NYC sidewalks, ate in soup kitchens, and begged for money. So remember, next time you see a panhandler outside Vertigo, you could be looking at an Academy Award winner.

Prediction for 2008: More Oscar-caliber parts, including roles in Greta and The Loss of the Teardrop Diamond.

Adapted from “People of the Year,� Rockland Magazine, December 2007

(AP Photo/Rick Maiman)

People of the Year — 13. Bill Murray

rm_people09.jpgThe Sneden’s Landing smart alec may like to joke about retiring, but if 2007 proved anything, an out-of-work Murray is a restless Murray. While playing golf with Will Smith in March, he ripped off his shirt and began running up and down the fairway flapping his wings (he later explained that he’d been stung by a bee). Then in May—at the opening of good friend Peter Kelly’s X20 restaurant in Yonkers—he celebrated by hoisting the restaurateur onto his shoulders and doing a victory lap. And then picking up another Kelly, brother Ned, for a second lap. In July, he showed up for his graduation from Regis University 30 years late … and accepted his honorary diploma wearing shorts. And in August, the weirdest incident of all: Police in Stockholm, Sweden, pulled him over for a DUI. The vehicle? A golf cart.

Prediction for 2008: Fortunately, Murray is back making movies again! Keeping him out of trouble right now is City of Ember, a fantasy flick in which Murray plays the mayor of a brightly lit city with a failing generator. It’s set to arrive in theaters by October 2008.

Adapted from “People of the Year,� Rockland Magazine, December 2007

(Illustration by Ismael Roldon)

People of the Year — 14. René Syler

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Let’s just say the year started badly for the Chappaqua resident. She’d just been fired without warning from CBS’s Early Show. Then, in January, she underwent a double mastectomy. And as if that weren’t enough stress, she then renovated her home. The 44-year-old rebounded quickly, though. After reconstructive surgery, her book Good Enough Mother came out in March. Before long she was talking to Oprah about the realities of imperfect parenting (serving pancakes for dinner, using a stapler to hem pants). Her so-called “imperfections� were, in reality, pretty harmless, but we were just glad to have her back on TV.

Prediction for 2008: Anthony LaPaglia’s production company has optioned her book as a sitcom. A casting suggestion: For the lead, try Wanda Sykes—an actress with enough brio to be Syler.

Adapted from “People of the Year,� InTown Westchester, December 2007

(Photo: Tom Nycz / The Journal News) 

People of the Year — 15. Vanessa Williams

itw_people12.jpgWho’d have thought that radiating evil on screen would translate into good things off camera? But that’s exactly what happened after this Westchesterite (born in Tarrytown, raised in Millwood) signed on to play Ugly Betty’s villainous bad gal Wilhelmina Slater. The role landed her an Emmy nod, the covers of countless magazines (including InTown), and a $20-million endorsement deal for Proactiv. Even her beloved dog landed a fairy-tale ending this year. In June, when her Yorkie, Enzo, went missing from her Chappaqua home, he was found and traced back to Williams, thanks to a microchip implanted in his skin.

Prediction for 2008: Having now conquered the worlds of music, film, and TV, all that remains on Williams’ to-do list is finding a replacement for ex-husband Rick Fox.

Adapted from “People of the Year,� InTown Westchester, December 2007

(Illustration by Ismael Roldon)

‘There Will Be Gummi Bears’: LoHud celeb reactions to the Golden Globe nods

Just a few kneejerk reactions from this morning’s nominees from the Lower Hudson Valley:

close.jpgGlenn Close:

The Bedford resident learned that she’d been nominated for her role as Patty Hewes in “Damages” from a friend in Florida while visiting her hometown of Greenwich, CT. According to the Hollywood Reporter, she said that her sinister lawyer character was being recognized because “she keeps people off balance all the time, and people are intrigued by that.” Close also told the AP, “My least favorite part is trying to figure out what to wear. Everything else is pretty much wonderful.”

There was also this extended quote, courtesy USA Today:

<blockquote><div>

“This is particularly sweet and thrilling, to be on the ground floor of something like this, with the three writers (Glenn Kessler, Todd Kessler and Daniel Zelman). I took the series on the strength of their pilot and you think, ‘Well, hopefully they’ll come up with other good stuff.’ To watch them week after week come up with wonderful and very sophisticated twists and turns was just the most wonderful ride. So I’m particularly proud for them. And then to have the joy of seeing Ted’s work and him being recognized for it and Rose Byrne, it’s very gratifying. And I hope our cast and crew feel the way I do, because everybody worked really heard. So it’s really nice to celebrate this way.�</div></blockquote>

sorkin.jpgAaron Sorkin:

The Scarsdale native, who is nominated for best screenplay for “Charlie Wilson’s War,” told The Hollywood Reporter that his celebrating will include picking up his daughter from school. “I’m sure there will be Gummi bears.”

(Close: AP Photo/FX, Larry Riley; Sorkin: Tom Nycz/The Journal News)

The Golden Globe nominations are just one big Lower Hudson Valley lovefest

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Palisades native and “Heroes” hottie Hayden Panettiere was Ms. Golden Globe today, given the honors of doling out the nominations alongside “Smokin’ Aces” star Ryan Reynolds and director Quentin Tarantino. Sadly, her show was totally shut out of every category. Ouch!

Fortunately, plenty of other LoHudders fared better.

Here’s a quick scorecard of which of the nominations have strong ties to the Lower Hudson Valley. In other words, all things being equal, these are the guys and gals to root for:

BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA

• AMERICAN GANGSTER: Stars Mount Vernon native Denzel Washington and filmed while Russell Crowe was living in Nyack

• THE GREAT DEBATERS: Directed by and starring Denzel

• MICHAEL CLAYTON: Stars Mamaroneck native (and former Winged Foot caddy) Michael O’Keefe, aka Noonan from “Caddyshack,” in a supporting role; features an early scene with George Clooney in Westchester, trying to put out a legal fire for an executive who has just gotten into a car accident.

ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA

• ANGELINA JOLIE – A MIGHTY HEART: Raised in Sneden’s Landing

The rest of the nominations are after the break …

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