Actor J.B. Smoove grew up funny. He’s the first to tell you that his whole family — particularly mom Elizabeth Whitehead — is “hilarious.” So he had a head start on the road to a career as a comedian.
But it took more than luck to hit a peak in his career at age 42, when the Mount Vernon, New York, -raised Smoove was tapped to play Leon, the permanent houseguest, on Larry David’s cringeworthy HBO comedy series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
He talks about his relentless climb up the ladder and reveals the key to his success in my conversation with him for The Journal News/lohud.com in advance of his appearance at the Paramount Hudson Valley Theater in Peekskill, New York, this Friday evening, April 6.
His standup act it unpredictable and changes on a dime to suit his mood and the vibe of the evening’s audiences.
“I would say this: If you love Leon, you’re gonna love J.B. Smoove,” he says.
Don’t miss out on one of the best musical events of the year: the release of Nyack hip hop duo TRØN & DVD‘s first full length album.
“Afraid of the Dark,” the tough-but-funny pair’s debut, dropped Friday, Oct. 20, on Kiam Records.
Brothers Norvin and Darian Van Dunk, who perform as TRØN & DVD, sat down with me recently for an extended interview for The Journal News/lohud, which appeared on Page One of Wednesday’s newspaper and is also available online. GO HERE to read the interview. (They also got some love from Nyack News & Views a few weeks back.)
The Kiam Records Shop, the label’s home base at 95 Main St/. in Nyack, is hosting a free listening-and-CD-signing party at 7 p.m. Friday. Label chief Jennifer O’Connor promises drinks and snacks.
When you’re in a rock band that tours as much as Third Eye Blind, little things sometimes loom large.
On a mid-September afternoon, front man Stephan Jenkins is having a bite to eat while he chats with The Journal News by phone from the Elmwood Park Amphitheater in downtown Roanoke, Virginia.
“I’m enjoying a chicken Caesar here,” the California native says. “They’ve got free range organic chicken in Roanoke, Virginia. How about that?”
After kicking off Oct. 5 in Providence, Rhode Island, the tour takes the band to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, and to Port Chester’s Capitol Theatre on Oct. 7.
Looking back on the songs from Third Eye Blind’s self-titled debut album, released 20 years ago, Jenkins remains proud of the work that first brought him fame. The work has endured, he says, even if it means something different now.
“I’m not the same person I was,” he explains. “It’s funny, I can revisit that person, and know that person and have more affection and appreciation for that person than I did when I was that person.”
He describes the person who wrote and recorded that album as “somebody who was very flawed.”
“There was a real drive,” he recalls. “That person had a real rage to live and a drive that was impressive. And, so yeah, I like that person.”
He resists describing how he sees himself today.
“I don’t know, I’ll tell you in 20 years. I’m not gifted with self- knowledge.
Whether you were around in the Sixties, or even if you were born years later, you have head the psychedelic folk-rock stylings of Donovan, whose greatest hits include “Sunshine Superman,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” and “Mellow Yellow.”
On Sunday, Sept. 18, the 70-year-old Scotland-born singer-songwriter brings his 50th anniversary tour to the Paramount Hudson Valley Theater in Peekskill.
In an interview for The Journal News/lohud.com tied to his first-ever Westchester County gig, Donovan tells me he’s still going strong doing creative work he loves – and has no intention of stopping.
“I love making music and I do it every day… I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop doing that. In that way, my motivations haven’t changed at all. I’m an observer and my music is a commentary on life. I love that job.”
Salman Ahmad was born in Pakistan, but he developed his love of rock and roll during the formative teen years he spent in Tappan, New York, a town in southern Rockland County.
Today, a quarter century after founding the multi-million selling band Junoon in Pakistan, where he returned in his late teens, he’s still making music. Now, more than ever, it’s in service to his humanitarian spirit as much as to his Rockland-born rock and roll heart.
I had the chance to speak with Ahmad by Skype the other day about his life and work.
Though music is his life, he’s also a trained physician. Right now, he’s back in Pakistan, using his celebrity, and a bit of his medial savvy, in the battle to eradicate polio there.
But all the while, he’s looking over his shoulder, because, while he’s a Muslim like most in his homeland, he’s a known target for extremists who don’t like the Western influence he brings with him.
You may have forgotten — or maybe never knew — that some of Bruce Springsteen’s distinctly New Jersey-oriented tunes were actually recorded in Rockland County, that tiny part of New York State just north of the Garden State line and west of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
He recorded his albums “The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle” and “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” — as well as the title track of his breakthrough third studio album, “Born to Run” — at the former 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, New York.
The Blauvelt Auto Spa May 5, 2015. Bruce Springsteen recorded “Born to Run” in the building 40 years ago, when it was the 914 Sound Studios. (Photo: Peter Carr/The Journal News)
At 6 p.m. today, there’s a ceremony at the site — now an auto spa — where a historical marker will be installed. It’s being followed by a concert by Joe Delia, a keyboardist/composer who has played with Springsteen. Rockland-born guitarist/songwriter Joe D’Urso and other guests will also be on the bill.
It’s free. But get there early, because while the dedication ceremony should have plenty of room for anybody who shows up, fewer than 200 will be able to enter the diner for the concert afterward. But don’t fret if you can’t get in. Organizers say the overflow crowd will be able to listen in on speakers set up outside.
My buddy Robert Brum from The Journal News/lohud.com has played a big role in making this historical event a reality. He’s written extensively, and lyrically, about the history. Click here to read Brum’s beautifully written and presentedpiece about the roots of Springsteen’s song on its 40th anniversary.
It had to be at least a little demoralizing for Mark Osborne, the veteran “Kung Fu Panda” director from Hastings-on-Hudson, to see his lyrical take on classic children’s book “The Little Prince” get pulled from the Paramount Pictures release schedule just a week before its U.S. premiere this spring.
“The Little Prince”
After all, it was a film he felt “destined” to make, he told me in an interview for The Journal News/lohud, because he was introduced to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beloved 1943 illustrated novella by the woman who is now his wife.
“She gave me her copy of the book when we were going to have to separate” when he decided to transfer to the West Coast for college. She wanted “to keep us connected,” he said “She would quote from the book in letters to me.”
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He did get a chance to see it on the big screen in special one-off sneak preview at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville just days before Paramount pulled the plug.
While streaming is probably the method many families would prefer to use to watch the family flick, there’s something sad about the idea that Osborne’s gorgeous creation would not be available on a bigger screen as a communal moviegoing experience.
Luckily for film buffs of all ages, the “Netflix Exclusive” is scheduled for a theatrical run that begins Friday, the same day it’s available for streaming. The IFC Center in Manhattan’s West Village has the exclusive, which was announced in a splashy full-page ad in Sunday’s New York Times.
NEW: You’ll also have one chance to see the movie on a big screen without making the trip into Manhattan. There’s a special screening with the director at 6:30 p.m. Sunday Aug. 7 at Alamo Drafthouse, 2548 Central Park Avenue in Yonkers. GO HERE to buy tickets at $13.25.
Novelist Jessica Tom on the cover of the Life & Style section of the March 10, 2016, issue of The Journal News
Jessica Tom, a Brooklyn-based writer and foodie who grew up in the Hudson Valley town of Pleasantville, is a skilled writer, but her provocatively titled debut novel, “Food Whore,” has benefited from a large dose of good luck, too.
It took the Yale-trained writer five years of hard works to get her first novel published. But the luck kicked in even before the book came out. She was lucky to get a bonus that most novelists — first-timers and veterans alike — can only dream of: Hollywood’s DreamWorks studio bought an option on her New York City-centric tale of food and intrigue.
I had a chance to chat with Tom about growing up in Westchester County and the process of writing “Food Whore,” in an interview published Thursday in The Journal News.