Laurence Fishburne makes CSI debut tonight

New Rochelle resident Laurence Fishburne will make his debut on the smash hit show CSI, tonight on CBS at 9 p.m.

The actor most famous for his role as Morpheus in the Matrix (but to me, he’s most famous as Cowboy Curtis on Pee-Wee’s Playohuse) will now have the lead role on the show. I can’t say that I watch CSI regularly, but I’m definitely tuning in tonight to see how Fishburne does. Check out a preview clip below:

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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.
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“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.

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)

Wanna be on national TV? It helps if you’re from Westchester. Just ask Kara DioGuardi and Bobby Moynihan.

August has been a good month for Westchester natives who seek a national network TV audience.

kara2.JPGToday it was announced that Kara DioGuardi, who grew up in New Rochelle, was named the unprecedented fourth judge on “American Idol.”

I spoke this afternoon with her proud papa, Joe DioGuardi, an Ossining resident and former U.S. Congressman. He told me Kara was raised in the Wilmot Woods section of New Rochelle, attended the Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Scarsdale and graduated from The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry. He said his phone has been ringing off the hook today but was proud of and thrilled for his daughter.

It’ll be interesting to see with whom she most often sides on the panel. I’m guessing she’ll have the compassion of Paula but the ear of Simon, which in my mind is the ideal combination.

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This was the second bit of exciting news for Westchester natives this month. As I reported last week for sister blog Remote Access, Eastchester’s Bobby Moynihan is joining the cast of “Saturday Night Live.”

I’m psyched not only because he’s a talented product of the Lower Hudson Valley and because I love the show, but also because I’ve been friends with him since we were in middle school. Call it full disclosure or name-dropping. Either way, I’m proud of him.

With a budding film career and tons of experience performing at the Upright Citizens Brigage Theatre in Manhattan, Moynihan’s an outstanding sketch and improv comedian and will quickly become an audience favorite.

Want some gossip about him? He really likes peach Snapple. Ooooh! Call the Enquirer!

(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello; Moynihan photo/Brendan McMullen)

Confirmed: Laurence Fishburne joins ‘CSI’ cast

The rumor is now true. New Rochelle’s Laurence Fishburne will be joining the cast of the original “CSI” in the upcoming season’s ninth episode.

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Despite Aman Ali’s reservations about “having Morpheus on the show,” I think my fellow Suburbarazzo is focusing on the wrong Fishburne character. What the CBS melodrama could use is a little more levity, a little more of a stereotypical Western edge, a little more guitar playing without concern for making the chords look legit.

Yes, I’m talking about channeling his Cowboy Curtis character from “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”

What better way to convey a “doctor/scientist outsider to the CSI unit who has the same genetic profile as a serial killer but hasn’t previously acted on any homicidal impulses”? Especially when everyone around Cowboy Curtis has always been prepared to “scream real loud”?

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Laurence Fishburne could be coming to CSI

New Rochelle resident Laurence Fishburne is being heavily courted to become the new lead actor on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

If this report is true, I’m curious to see if Fishburne will take the red pill or the blue pill from CBS.fishburne-small.jpg

Personally, I don’t think having Morpheus on the show would be a good idea. According to Reuters, the new character on the show will be a “doctor/scientist outsider to the CSI unit who has the same genetic profile as a serial killer but hasn’t previously acted on any homicidal impulses.”

Sounds like something Fishburne could easily handle, but apparently John Malkovich is being courted too. Fishburne is a terrific actor, but nobody can play a borderline crazy dude better than Malkovich.

200637_173565_1_024.jpgKurt Russell is apparently also being courted for the role but I doubt CBS will give the role to him … unless this new CSI character wears an eye patch and fights racial stereotype villians in the year 1997.

Yes, I have both Escape from New York and Escape from L.A. on DVD at home, so don’t judge me.

(Fishburne: AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

(Russell: Ap Photo/20th Century Fox)

Who is the fairest music mogul of them all?

So, how do you calculate “the top 12 most powerful musicians of today”? Well, according to MuchMusic.com, it’s a careful scientific formula based on album sales, clothing lines, fragrances, sold-out tours, charities, endorsement deals, and relevancy—whatever that means.

And based on their calculations, New Rochelle native P. Diddy — labeled “The Unstoppable Entrepreneur” — came in right at No. 4, thanks in large part to his extra currics: “Making the Band,” his Broadway shows, and Bad Boy Records.

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But soon enough, he won’t be Westchester’s lone representative on the list. If the rumor that Beyonce and Jay-Z are moving to Scarsdale comes true, we’ll have Nos. 7 and 2, respectively, in the hood, too.

Course, if we were ranking not just musicians but all-around music moguls, I’d be mobilizing to make the case for part-time Pound Ridger Clive Davis — the record producer behind everyone from Whitney Houston to the American Idol winners. No disrespect to Diddy, B, or Z, but when it comes to music biz heavy hitters, Clive trumps all.

“The Top 12 Most Powerful Musicians of Today” [MuchMusic.com]

(AP Photos — Beyonce: Evan Agostini; Diddy: Chris Pizzello; Jay-Z: Henny Ray Abrams)

Westchester’s most stupid-awesome celebrity cars

Having just finished a feature for the July/August issue of InTown titled “Extreme Car Makeover,” I’ve still got the whole “pimp my ride” thing on the brain. Which is why I had to link to this story from the Customized Girl blog, breaking down the 25 most “stupid-awesome” cars driven by megacelebrities.

While none of our Westchesterites actually took top honors — that went to Jay Leno and his Blastolene Special 21-foot-long aluminum roadster with M47 Patton Tank engines — we still had an admirable showing, with Dobbs Ferry’s Funkmaster Flex, New Rochelle native P. Diddy, and Bedford’s Donald Trump all making the list (at Nos. 12, 6, and 5, respectively).

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Personally, I can’t say I really like any of their cars though. From Trump’s Cadillac DTS Presidential Limo to Diddy’s Sean John Navigator to the Funkmaster Flex edition Ford, none of them is especially unique or customized. In fact, the Navigator and Ford Expedition are standard production vehicles.

What I do know is that if Diddy’s $350,000 Chevy Express 3500 (aka “the Diddy-mobile”) had made the list, it would have run right over the competition.

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Diddy had it outfitted by AI Design in Tuckahoe (also one of the businesses I wrote about in that forthcoming car feature), who souped-up the car’s drive train, expanded the cab, added brakes, and chic rims. On the inside, it has six plasma TVs, a Marvel wine celler, and hardwood floors. Just try and top that, Funkmaster!

“25 Stupid-Awesome Celebrity Vehicles” [Customized Girl Blog]

(Image of Diddy-Mobile from New York Post, Nov. 7, 2005)

Diddy rumored to be back with baby mama, vying to be ‘Black Bruce Willis’

Mount Vernon native Sean “Diddy” Combs has had a busy month so far. First, on May 2, he got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and, according to People, proclaimed himself the black Bruce Willis. (Actually, the full quote was: “I’m trying to get my Black Bruce Willis on.”)

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And on that same day, he was reportedly spotted having lunch with his ex, Kim Porter, at Italian restaurant Trilussa in Beverly Hills. You may recall, Diddy and Porter split a month ago, after Porter gave birth to the couple’s twin girls, D’Lila Star and Jessie James. Including son Christian, that’s three kids the couple has.

Could this lunch mean the couple’s giving it another go? BlogXilla certainly hopes so. Here, they share “13 reasons to get back with your baby mama.”

Thanks to Amy Vernon for the tip!

(AP Photos/Reed Saxon)

T-minus three hours until George Clooney

UPDATE: Success! I was able to email a few photos from the event into a Flickr pool. It’s a brave new world here on Suburbarazzi.

In addition to the photos from Pelham, you can also view a few photos of Clooney shooting “Burn After Reading” in New Rochelle last fall. These shots were taken by Robert Cox.

<iframe align=”center” src=”http://www.flickr.com/slideShow/index.gne?group_id=&user_id=84109415@N00&set_id=&tags=Clooney” frameBorder=”0″ width=”380″ height=”500″ scrolling=”no”></iframe><br/><small>Created with <a href=”http://www.admarket.se” title=”Admarket.se”>Admarket’s</a> <a href=”http://flickrslidr.com” title=”flickrSLiDR”>flickrSLiDR</a>.</small>

Podcast: April 30

On the podcast this week: Mariah’s newest Empire; Paul Shaffer and Matisyahu prepare to rock out for Israel’s 60th birthday; and Chevy Chase chills with Captain Planet.

<a href=”http://www.lohud.com/assets/mov/042908_suburbarazzi_lohud.mp4″ title=”Anarchy Media Player – Right click to download file” class=”noimg”><em>Podcast file:</em></a>

<a href=”http://www.lohud.com/assets/mov/042908_suburbarazzi_lohud.flv” title=”Anarchy Media Player – Right click to download file”><em>Flash video:</em></a>

At the end of the video and after the break is the answer to this week’s quiz: “Speed Racer” opens in theaters nationwide next Friday. Which actor with ties to the Lower Hudson Valley is NOT in the cast?

A. Palisades native Hayden Panettiere
B. New Rochelle native Richard Roundtree
C. Pound Ridge resident Susan Sarandon Continue reading

Suburbarazzi Week in Review on RNN: Oscar wrap-up edition

Download:

At the end of the video and after the break is the answer to this week’s quiz: In winning the Oscar for Short Subject Documentary, Croton native Cynthia Wade actually beat out another Lower Hudson Valley product. “Salim Babaâ€? director Francisco Bello graduated in 1998 from which local institution?

A. Hendrick Hudson High School
B. Ossining High School
C. Scarsdale High School

Continue reading