Happy 25 years to Vanessa Williams

It’s hard to believe. 25 years ago today, Vanessa Williams won her Miss America crown, becoming the first African American to win the award. tjndc5-5dxobsxov4k92u2eld4_original.jpg

Who knew my lame almanac e-mails would be so handy. Egypt signed the Camp David Accords with Israel in 1978 on this date too, in case you were interested.

The Miss America crown would pave the way to a Williams’ decent singing career and now her very successful acting career. She’s one of the stars of Ugly Betty on ABC and continues to shine as another gem living in Westchester.

It’s a slow news day, don’t judge me.

( Mark Vergari / InTown Westchester)

Jeanine Pirro makes her TV show debut Monday

Westchester’s former firecracker district attorney Jeanine Pirro will begin her judge show on the CW network on Monday.tjndc5-5cb4b4nlbld19ccxdknd_original.jpg

Pirro enters a crowded pool of TV judge shows already out there, but if she’s as animated on television as she is in real life, I think she’ll do fine.

Let’s just hope her whacky ex-husband doesn’t ruin this one like he did with Jeanine’s political career, hehehe.

(Photo by Ricky Flores/The Journal News )

Chevy Chase praises SNL’s Palin sketch

Everybody is talking about Tina Fey’s dead on impression of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin over the weekend. Click here if you haven’t seen it.

Bedford resident and SNL alum Chevy Chase weighed in on the sketch on MSNBC today:

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Martha Stewart to give TV tour of her Bedford home

YES! Martha Stewart will give viewers a tour of her Bedford estate during the season premiere of her show on Monday. aleqm5jdrzcx1iqeuv2svuytdhtkyoi4ja.jpeg

Apparently she’ll be entertaining her studio audience there, as indicated by the table setup she has going on in the pic I posted.

If you live here in New York, its going to be on at 11 a.m. on WNBC (Channel 4 on most service providers).

(AP Photo/The Martha Stewart Show, Anders Krusberg)

Eastchester’s Bobby Moynihan likely to make ‘SNL’ debut tonight

I’ll admit it: I’m double-posting here and on Remote Access. It’s big news.

Yes, Barack Obama, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell are rumored to return to 30 Rock to appear on tonight’s premiere of “Saturday Night Live,” hosted by Olympic behemoth Michael Phelps. But let’s not forget about Eastchester native Bobby Moynihan, either.


Those familiar with “SNL” know featured players usually pop up in fewer sketches than their repertory counterparts, so expect Moynihan to appear in one to three sketches tonight, tops.

That said, I wasn’t surprised when he was hired in August. I’m proud to say I’ve known him for almost 20 years. He’s absolutely hilarious and, if there’s any justice, will be upgraded to repertory status within a few months.

The “SNL” premiere begins tonight at about 11:30 p.m. EST.

Kara DioGuardi’s decision to drop law plans paved way for ‘Idol’ gig

New Rochelle native Kara DioGuardi had just received a political science degree from Duke University, but she told me that career path burdened her as early as her junior year.

“I’d always heard melodies in my head, I’d always loved the theatre and I’d loved the arts, but I just didn’t know how to do that. I didn’t know how to break in.”

So although her father, former Congressman Joe DioGuardi, wasn’t thrilled to hear she was singing in an Ossining garage band called Gramma Trips instead of becoming a prosecuting attorney, he offered advice that wound up propelling her career in the music industry:

“You know what you do? You find the place that will help you to learn … tell them you’ll work for them for nothing. They’re probably going to pay you something. But just do it.”

From that moment on, Kara DioGuardi’s singing, songwriting and producing talents transcended the Lower Hudson Valley and Durham, N.C., to reach an international audience. And all that led to her recently being named as “American Idol’s” newest judge.

Find out more about her Westchester County upbringing and her path to stardom in my article appearing in today’s edition of The Journal News.

Phew! Diddy flying his private jet again

We reported earlier that Diddy was flying commercial airlines because gas prices to him were “too (mutha effin’) high.”


Well, Diddy has put all our worries to rest by letting us know that he is back flying his private jet again thanks to “all my Saudi Arabian brothers and sisters” lowering the prices again.

I think his video blogs are slowly becoming my favorite things to watch on the internet.

(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Hayden ‘freaked out’ by marriage talks

Palisades gem Hayden Panettiere is reportedly ‘freaked out’ by marriage talks from her boyfriend and Heroes co-star Milo Ventimiglia.ap_hayden_panettiere_070620_ssv.jpg

Get this, Hayden just moved out of her family’s home.. and bought her own bachelor bad.

Ouch! It’s just a matter of time before Milo gets the breakup e-mail with no subject header that says “take care” at the end of it.

In an interview with People magazine, she said what she’s looking for in a relationship are all the “little things.”

“When you wake up, and you’ve got a note posted on your mirror, and it says, ‘I love you, have a great day’ – that’s, like, the best,” she said.

Hmm, now Chris and I need to figure out which tree outside her house we need to climb to place some notes in there.

(AP Photo)

Westchester author at the center of Spielberg lawsuit

Steven Spielberg is being sued over claims his movie Distburbia (starring Shia LaBeouf) copied off the classic Hitchcock movie Rear Window.aleqm5hq2dbpgneoefl5tehjxmcy9wqc6a.jpeg

In case you didn’t know, Rear Window is based off a 1942 short story written by Cornell Woolrich, who grew up in New York City but is buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale. Hitchcock got permission from Woolrich’s people when he made his movie, but the lawsuit alleges that Spielberg didn’t.

(AP Photo/Paramount Pictures)

EXCLUSIVE: Kara DioGuardi picks favorite ‘Idol’ contestants, performance and judge (sort of)

Just before Labor Day weekend, I had the pleasure of chatting up New Rochelle native and Grammy-nominated songwriter/producer Kara DioGuardi, who on Aug. 25 Fox announced as the fourth judge on “American Idol.”

new-idol-panel.jpgA true LoHudder, her connections to the region are seemingly endless. As a child, she attended Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Scarsdale, sang at the Larchmont Shore Club and provided the soundtrack at campaign stops throughout Westchester County for her father, former U.S. Congressman Joe DioGuardi. She later graduated from The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry. Despite graduating from Duke University with a degree in political science, she abandoned law to become a vocalist in an Ossining garage band called Gramma Trips.

After snagging multiple jobs at Billboard magazine for a five-year span, she got signed to a record deal. Although her singing career never took off, her songwriting and producing gigs did. She was partially or completely responsible for writing Gwen Stefani’s “Rich Girl,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Walk Away,” Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man” and dozens of other recent hits. No wonder she was named BMI’s 2006 Pop Songwriter of the Year.

My full story about DioGuardi is slated for the week ahead, but in the meantime, check out 10 questions and answers from my exclusive interview with “Idol’s” newest judge:

kara2.JPGWhat recent song do you most wish you’d written?
“Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé.

As a singer, how far do you think you would advance on “American Idol”?
“I would hope to the top 10.”

How long have you been watching “Idol”?
“Since the beginning.”

You’d said that you thought “Idol” would have hired someone more famous to fill the fourth judge’s chair. Had you heard of any famous names who were being considered?
“They kind of kept me in the dark. I hadn’t really heard anything.”

As of Aug. 28, who was the most famous person outside of the show to congratulate you for the “Idol” hire?
“Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics).”

From the first seven seasons, who have been your three favorite “Idol” alumni?
“I’d say Kelly Clarkson, (Chris) Daughtry and, hmm, I like Katharine McPhee.”

Who’s the most underrated “Idol” contestant of all time?
“Katharine McPhee.”

What’s your favorite “Idol” performance so far?
“I thought that ‘Billie Jean’ performance that David Cook did was ridiculous.” (In the good way.)

The perception among fans is that Simon Cowell’s the bad cop, Paula Abdul’s the good cop and Randy Jackson’s somewhere in between. With which judge have you sided the most through the years?
“Probably Simon. Sometimes he can be hard, but I also think at times he’s doing people a favor.”

For your first day judging “Idol” contestants, you sat between Randy and Paula at the judges’ table. Where would you want to sit?
“You know at this point, I’m pretty much just like, ‘Where do you want me?’ I’m the new kid in school. I’m not going to cause waves right from the beginning.”

(AP Photo of Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson/Jason DeCrow; AP Photo of DioGuardi/Chris Pizzello)

MSNBC pulls Matthews and Olbermann from anchor chairs

MSNBC has yanked Chris Matthews and Tarrytown native Keith Olbermann from anchoring live events, after on-air feuds between the two created a storm of hilarity the past two weeks during the Republican and Democratic conventions.tjndc5-5b4dl4iamz9sxta7nb6_original.jpg

David Gregory will now be anchoring live election coverage, including the presidential debates. Despite the network’s slogan, MSNBC is NOT the place for politics, ranking dead last in network ratings during both conventions.

I’ll still watch MSNBC over CNN though, but that’s mainly because I have an intense rage of jealousy over Wolf Blitzer’s neatly trimmed beard.

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)