Hello, my friends! My column debuts in HQ Magazine this week and for those of you not in NJ - I've entered it below:
Leave me your thoughts...I'm so excited this is happening - so many great things on the horizon =)
Thank you for reading xoxo
"Is This Thing On?...My Life as a TV Host"
Jamie Lynn Drohan
NOTHIN’ BUT NET
Lights, camera, New Jersey! The New Jersey Hall of Fame was created to honor the men and women who have made significant contributions to the state of New Jersey and the world beyond. The 2009 event took place on May 3rd at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey. A proud Jersey Girl myself, it is always an honor to interview and spotlight a fellow Jersey Girl or Boy who has gone on to great success and achievement. This was my second year covering the red carpet ceremony and I felt fairly confident with my goals for the evening. My assignment was to host and produce some fabulous red carpet coverage to air on CNN Headline News and Comcast Cable On Demand.
Early bird that I am, I secured the top spot on the carpet. Not that it really matters because, generally, you can get an interview regardless of your carpet placement. Hey, some people suffer from "Napoleon syndrome"; I have a "carpet complex". I'm working on it, cross my stillettos and hope to die. Despite the rainy weather, I was determined to "sprinkle a little Jersey" on the red runway and, to my surprise, it wasn't just the shutterbugs that hit the carpet. As Don Jay Smith, Executive Producer of the New Jersey Hall of Fame had promised, the evening had a star-studded lineup. The organization inducts New Jersey natives from all walks of life and breaks the nominees down into five categories: Historical, Enterprise, Arts & Entertainment, Sports and General.
I had the chance to interview entertainment giants such as acclaimed talk show host, Montel Williams, Star Trek alumni turned Rutgers professor, Avery Brooks, Sopranos actor, Vincent Pastore, moonwalker, Buzz Aldrin and his best friend and Yankee legend, Yogi Berra.
Pop singer and Newark, NJ native, Kat DeLuna got the party started by performing her hit song, Whine Up and we were Havin’ A Party as Southside Johnny rocked the house with a little help from his longtime buddy, Bon Jovi.
Yes, Jon Bon Jovi is just as handsome in real life as he is in his music videos and on the big screen. This particular Hall of Fame Inductee did not walk the red carpet. This was a total bummer, as I was all ready to hit him up with my first and, admittedly, cheesy question, "Who says you can't go home?" Despite having my red carpet hopes dashed, he did give a great acceptance speech on what it means to be from "Jersey". As he put it, it's the only state where someone will refer to another person by saying, "Hey, Jersey!" You never hear, "Hey, Connecticut!” or, "Hey, North Carolina!” Nope, that's only reserved for Jersey folk. He also made note that since New Jersey is smack dab between NYC and Philly, those from the Garden State have no choice but to cast a "very large shadow".
After listening to Bon Jovi, I began preparing for an interview with another inductee who happens to cast a very large shadow, both figuratively and literally: New Jersey’s best-known scholar-athlete, Bill Bradley. He was a three-time All-American basketball player at Princeton University and 1965 National Player of the Year. Graduating with honors, Bradley was awarded a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University after which he returned to lead the New York Knicks during their glory days in the late sixties and early seventies. "Dollar Bill" became a United States Senator for New Jersey and today, is a highly sought after investment banker. His drive for perfection on the court and in business makes him the perfect role model for aspiring athletes and businessmen alike. As my dad puts it, Bradley has successfully combined his two passions: “Benjamins & basketball”.
My dad would know, as he is a true basketball fanatic. When I was a little girl he enrolled me on an all boys basketball team for two seasons. I think he only did this so he could be a coach. He also started calling me "Jay". I think he did that because secretly, he'd wished I were a boy. Who am I kidding...it was never a secret...he made it very clear.
We would bicker terribly in the morning before practice, as I was crimping my side ponytail and trying to turn my atrocious team uniform into couture. Around this time, I also developed a loathing for "performance" sneakers. Come on, who cares what your footwork is like if you don't look good doing it? To this day when I hear a whistle blow I have flashbacks of endless dribbling drills, three point lines and concern over my visible training bra straps. Strike that...concern over the fact I was the only one wearing a training bra. (Oh, to be ten again!)
“Nothin but net”, he’d yell out at our practices. Oh, Dad...fifteen years later and he’s still..."Baaaaall in!”
While most red carpet reporters ask the standard questions, I have a decidedly different approach and decided to call my basketball history into play. As a result, I had a particularly fabulous interview with Senator Bradley. The Hall of Fame Inductee and basketball legend turned political icon was briskly walking the red carpet trying not to stop at any reporter too long. I caught him off guard by jumping in front of him with the swiftness of a power forward on offense and said: "My Dad is a big basketball fan and he's so excited I'm interviewing you! So Senator, how would you rate the honor you’re receiving tonight - nothing but net from the three point line?" He immediately stopped and thought for a moment, and said, "How would I rate the honor?" He then smiled and said, "SWISH!!"
I was speaking Senator Bradley's language and thanks to my former "coach", our red carpet interview was an "alley-oop". Some things never change. In a way, I'm still that ten year old hot mess, bra straps and all, only this time around my court is the red carpet, my uniform is couture, I've traded in my sneaks for stilettos and my "slam dunk" is now a slammin' sound bite. You may call it full circle, but I’m calling it nothin’ but net.
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