by Whitney Ullman
The Shoprite LPGA Classic presented by Acer takes place May 27-June 2 at The Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club.
2012 winner Stacy Lewis is coming back to defend her title, and she chatted with NJ.com about her bond with the community that prompted a $20,000 donation to the Community FoodBank after Hurricane Sandy.
NJ.COM: How many years have you been playing at The Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club?
LEWIS: I think I've played the last 4 years. This would be the 5th.
What are some of your best memories of playing here in Galloway?
LEWIS: Obviously coming back as the defending champion is certainly a great memory. I've stayed down in the casino the last few years. I'm not a huge gambler, but there are a lot of good restaurants and good shopping...I'm really supportive of the community, it's just a great place to come and I'm glad to be back.
You certainly showed your support of the community when you found out about Hurricane Sandy and donated $20,000 to the Community FoodBank. Where were you when it happened?
LEWIS: I was in Japan. We played Asia at the end of the year and I was watching CNN. I remember seeing one of the reporters down on the boardwalk in Atlantic City and thinking, God I was there, I know where they are. It really kind of hit home that we play a tournament here, and we thought about the golf course here and what the people were going through. The first thing that came to my head was that I wanted to help. I mean, I was the defending champion and that was part of it, but more than anything I just wanted to help. I talked to my agent, talked to my parents, got in touch with some people here and it just kind of all came together. We came up with the Food Bank as a good place to start. I just thought that if I can help the people these first few weeks, help them get back on their feet, basically get them moving in the right direction.
You're a very humble and quiet person, how did it feel to be in the spotlight for your donation?
LEWIS: It got some pretty good exposure. I wasn't really planning on all of the exposure. They had to convince me to even write an article that I was doing it, but I didn't do it for that. I don't do it for the rewards. I do it to help people. Just to say thank you to this community because they have given so much to the tour the last few years and I felt like I should give back to them.
Were you able to visit the FoodBank and see how your contribution helped?
LEWIS: This is actually my first visit back, but I know that tournament week I plan to visit the food bank and see where that money went and exactly what they are doing there.
As a child you had scoliosis and back surgery, how did you overcome that?
LEWIS: At 11 I was diagnosed with scoliosis and I had to wear a back brace for 6.5 years. For about 3 or 4 years I was going to the doctor and hoping that it would be that one appointment where I wouldn't have to wear the brace anymore. It didn't happen for a long time and then it turned out that the brace didn't work. I eventually had surgery when I was 18. They put a rod and 5 screws in my back, so it's not something I would wish on any kid. I don't think anybody should have to go through what I did, but if all that didn't happen, I wouldn't be where I am today. It taught me perseverance and to be thankful and grateful for all that I have.
But with such an ailment, what convinced you to start playing golf?
LEWIS: I started playing golf at 8, so I was playing prior to the diagnosis. The doctor really encouraged me to keep playing, so I wore the brace 18 hours a day. Golf was the time that I didn't have to wear it, and I think that's really why I was drawn to golf. I could play 18 holes in 4 or 5 hours and that's 4 or 5 hours out of the brace. So that’s how golf came into the picture for me.
With all of the press you do, can you describe a typical day in your life?
LEWIS: It's pretty crazy. Tournament days are pretty standard, you play your golf, but the first few days of the week are doing TV shows and interviews, trying to squeeze some practice in there. I'm all over the place lately, I'm on CNN doing David Ferry. It's been a whirlwind the last couple of months.
What's your diet like?
LEWIS: I try to eat fairly healthy but it's hard on the road. It's hard when you travel to eat the way you should, but I do take care of myself because you have to. I play enough golf and do a lot of traveling that you have to stay hydrated and take care of yourself.
Do you watch any reality shows? What's your favorite?
LEWIS: I like 'American Idol,' 'The Voice,' 'So You Think You Can Dance,' those kind of shows. I'm also into shows like 'Scandal' and 'Revenge.'
Is there anything you would like to tell your fans?
LEWIS: Come out and support us during the week of the tournament. Just come out, hopefully we'll have a great crowd and see some great golf. We'll take all the support we can get.
by Whitney Ullman
Most of us can remember the famous show "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," where British host Robin Leach would showcase the homes, cars and other fancy items of A-list celebrities. With "champagne wishes and caviar dreams" as his catchphrase, Leach is still living that mantra as he makes one lucky winner a millionaire this weekend as part of a Caesars Entertainment promotion awarding $1 million to four lucky winners over the summer.
Leach chatted with NJ.com about his thoughts on wealth, and his opinion of how reality shows have gone completely down hill.
NJ.com: Robin, you're no stranger to Atlantic City. What's your favorite memory?
Leach: My favorite memory of Atlantic City is a day I spent there with David Brenner. We filmed him for 'Lifestyles' way back when, and he took us to his old haunts when he was a teenager in Philadelphia, and in the beginning starting out on his career in comedy. But I also remember talking with Ed McMahon about Atlantic City - the old host of the Johnny Carson tonight show - because that’s where he started his career as a boardwalk announcer selling salt water taffy.
Are you excited to be coming back to AC?
Leach: Wherever I go, I make a party out of it. So I’m excited about returning because this is the first of four visits over the summer, and each time I will make someone a 1 million dollar cash millionaire, right there and then on the spot.
Wow that's amazing, how does this promotion for Caesars Entertainment work?
Leach: How it works is, 20 people who are all members of the Caesars Entertainment family at Harrah's, Showboat, Bally’s and Caesars will be chosen to go into a vault that will be built at the Harrah's resort. 20 people will go inside and pick a gold bar. One person will have a gold bar with a number that corresponds with the $1 million that I’ll give them, and then two other people will have numbers that correspond to having 1 million total rewards points to their accounts. So it’s a big prize and we do it on Memorial Day weekend, and there will be 3 other million dollar winners throughout the summer! So in all it will be 4 brand new millionaires coming out of Atlantic City over the summer. It’s one of the biggest most ambitious marketing ventures ever undertaken.
You've been around a lot of wealthy people, what advice would you give to a new millionaire?
Leach: The first advice is to calm your nerves. Realize that you’ve gone literally from being the opposite of rich and famous to becoming rich and famous. So you must not get overwhelmed by the money, and you must not think of going out and spending it all. Get a little advice from an accountant who will tell you to bank some of it and save some of it. There’s nothing wrong with splurging a little bit, but the truth is, if you spend it wisely, you’ll be spending the interest rather than the principal.
With the economy the way it is now, is it wise to live such a lavish lifestyle?
Leach: No, I think you have to be practical. A million dollars is a tremendous amount of money to suddenly be responsible for. Do you cut down on your house payments by paying off some of your mortgage? Absolutely yes. Do you buy yourself a new car? Yes, if the old one is costing you more money than a new one would cost. So you just have to be very sensible and not go mad or wild.
When Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous ended what was your favorite thing to do?
Leach: Well, we started the Food Network after 'Lifestyles.' Before 'Lifestyles' we started 'Entertainment Tonight,' so we had a good 20-plus year run on television with some very big hit television productions. One of the things I did with the Food Network, which is why I moved down to Las Vegas, was to bring all of those celebrity chefs that we had on the air, out here to put restaurants in the casinos, and as you know, many of the Atlantic City casino’s followed what we did in Vegas with fine food & star chefs and they created the same thing in Atlantic City.
Now of course you’ve got Miss America returning in September, so it looks like after a few years of the problems caused by the economy , you’re back in business and you’ll be having a great summer to celebrate after the misery's of Hurricane Sandy last season.
Speaking of Hurricane Sandy, did you know anyone affected?
Leach: I followed the devastation along the Jersey coastline along with everybody else, not believing that the weather could ever wreak that kind of havoc, feeling sorry for friends that I have in Atlantic City in that industry. But knowing the great thing about American’s is that when they are down, they bounce back up and they succeed twice as good again. And that’s the same advice I would give to anyone who wins or loses on Memorial Day Weekend. If you don’t make the winning 3 gold bars, come back and do it again. Keep the dream alive because one day the dream will come true.
Everyone knows you for your accent, do you think your accent helped your career here in the US?
Leach: [Laughs] I never understand this because if you came to England we’d all sound the same. There’s no doubt that British accents play a role in the success of anyone that comes from over seas, but I’d like to say at the same point, if an American went over to Britain, he would be just as successful over there.
Do you personally live the lifestyle of someone who is rich and famous?
Leach: No, no way. You’re a reporter for a newspaper and internet site and I was a reporter on television, so when I walked into those mega mansions, my eyes bulged and my mouth dropped just as anyone else would. And that was the reason the show was successful, because it was the reaction of “every man”.
Are there shows right now that compare to 'Lifestyles'?
Leach: I think you have to remember that we were the first of what are called "reality shows" and that’s a genre of television that I no longer approve of or think is clever or smart or brilliant because it's just gone down hill. When you have the Kardashian sisters shaving their armpits on television, thinking that's called entertainment, I think we've reached the bottom of the barrel. And we have feuding housewives in Atlanta and Orange County that you would never want to have living on the same block as you. So it’s become a real spectator sport, just like the Romans watched the Gladiators deal with lions in the arenas of old. You're waiting for death and destruction to happen; it's sad.
Do you have an opinion of what the next reality trend would be?
Leach: No, but I hope it comes full circle and people want to watch nice things again. Happy things.
Since you live in Las Vegas, how does it compare to Atlantic City?
Leach: Well, Las Vegas is like the granddaddy. This was the gaming mecca, and Atlantic City became the gaming mecca on the east coast. Vegas was so big that it didn’t have the same kind of competition that we have to battle in Atlantic City with rival casinos in CT or in PA. Even in NJ you have rival gaming operations . So we have a lot more intense competition in the gaming business than Vegas has had. But both of the cities got hit because of the economy, after 2001, further hit over 2007, and then we got hit on the East with Hurricane Sandy.
So let’s hope that the new Miss America in September will lead us back to the fame and fortune that we’ve had.
http://bit.ly/12Nn6Lt or http://www.nj.com/atlantic-city-entertainment/index.ssf/2013/05/vh1s_mob_wive_favorite_big_ang.html
by Whitney Ullman
Big Ang from VH1's Mob Wives recently hosted a party at Pro Bar inside Resorts Casino Hotel. She sat down with NJ.com and discussed everything from her shows popularity to advice about getting married. Let's check it out:
NJ.com: How do you like being in Atlantic City?
Big Ang: I was always a fan of Atlantic City; I love to gamble. My family has been coming here for years and my uncle was very big in the Golden Nugget years ago. You know Atlantic City was always a wise guy thing back in the day, and now they're not even allowed to come here. And that I know too, I witnessed it. But I love to gamble and have a good time when in Atlantic City. It's all in one: food, gambling and lots of fun!
When you gamble what do you like to play?
Big Ang: Oh, you're asking the wrong one. I LOVE blackjack, hands down. The lady queen one is my favorite. I love craps as of last night, and I'm always a fan of roulette. I don't know how to play baccarat and all of that, it's a little to complicated for me. Oh, and three-card poker is a goodie; your money can last.
When you're in Atlantic City do you have a specific place to go to or eat?
Big Ang: I love The Resorts and Capri.
You're on VH1's Mob Wives and now your own reality show, did you ever feel you would gain so much popularity?
Big Ang: No! First of all I never thought I would be 50 years old on a TV show, hello. I was just bartending, running a bar, minding my own business, being a mother and grandmother, and then my friend, Jennifer Graziano came. she's the producer, and said would you like to try out on the show? See my best friend Celia is her aunt. So she says maybe try out like six episodes. I think, ok. Before you know it, I'm in 17 episodes with my own spinoff. I'm like, 'what happened here?' And now I'm on my second season of my own spinoff and the fourth season of Mob Wives.
On Mob Wives, who's your most and least favorite character?
Big Ang: Well, I really like all the girls; I don't have a favorite. I do not dislike any of them or favor any of them, I'm just equal. If I would have to say anybody I might have to say Renee because she's like family. It's my best friend's niece. I've known her since she's a little girl.
If you could be on another reality show, what would it be?
Big Ang: No, I wouldn't want to be, I want to stay on the Mob Wives.
Smoking is a big part of your life, do you ever plan on quitting?
Big Ang: I do it every year for like two months and then I go back. It's like $14.50 a pack and four packs becomes like $60; it's retarded. I don't want to smoke, but I just can't help it. Now, they give you this medicine and I don't like to take medicine. They want to give you this stuff - they say it gives you these crazy nightmares, I don't need that. I'll just smoke.
How is your business The Drunken Monkey doing?
Big Ang: The Drunken Monkey is amazing. I've owned it 7 years, I would say like maybe a few years ago I was thinking about just selling it and closing it. It's a neighborhood place and after awhile it gets played out. But now, you can't even lock 'em out. We open at 8am and people from all over - I mean, even Australia - come there to meet me.
Would you change anything about your life?
Big Ang: No, I love it. I wouldn't change one thing. Everything is going good and why change that.
What are three key pieces of advice you would give to someone getting married?
Big Ang: Don't do it, it's overrated. But, make sure the husband loves you a lot more than you love him. They must have money because without it, people tell me that money don't mean everything, well it [expletive] does, because without it your marriage is miserable, because you fight over the money. It's always something about money whether it's bills, or this or that, whatever it may be. So they say money talks, no it's [expletive] screaming.
Your son was arrested last year, how is he doing now?
Big Ang: He's doing great. He was just released from his program he was in for the last 10 months. I am very proud of him; he took a step in the right direction and from now on it's going to be smooth sailing.
Do you get any fun fan mail?
Big Ang: Oh, you don't even know! I got to say they don't know where I live, thank g-d, but what I get to the bar, I even get mail for the girls. They will send it to me and say can you please give to them. They send everything to the bar; lots of gifts. Gifts after gifts - nice things - and I really want to thank all my fans because I don't have time to actually send personal thank yous, but I do appreciate it.
What can we expect in the future for Big Ang?
Big Ang: I have Big Ang's Secrets - that's my salon boutique on Highland Boulevard. They have great stuff. My book 'Bigger is Better' is in Barnes and Noble and online. It's really good and it's funny. And then also the Big Ang Secret website. I also look forward to everyone watching Big Ang season 2 that airs in September; it's going to be an amazing show.
'Jerseylicious' star Gigi celebrates her birthday in A.C., reflects on the difficulties of reality stardom
by Whitney Ullman
Jerseylicious's Gigi and her sister Gabriella celebrated their birthdays in style at the Casbah Night Club inside the Trump Taj Mahal last weekend. Amidst all the partying, Gigi took the time to chat with NJ.com about everything from her relationship status with Frankie to her newfound outspokenness.
NJ.com: What's your favorite part about being in Atlantic City?
Gigi: It's almost like a mini Vegas, even though I haven't been to Vegas. It's like a mini-getaway and I love it.
Were you affected by Hurricane Sandy? How did you help?
Gigi: I only lost my power, but that's nothing compared to what everybody else lost. The Gatsby salon raised $8,000 and it helped a lot of people who lost everything.
What are some of your favorite Jersey hangouts?
Gigi: I love Point Pleasant in the summer. I love Belmar. I just love all the beach towns in the summer.
What's up with your relationship with Frankie?
Gigi: I'm single at the moment and he has a girlfriend. I mean it is what it is; I'll always love him. He'll always have a place in my heart and I wish him the best.
You typically have a nice demeanor, but lately you've been more outspoken, especially with the whole Tracy situation, can you explain?
Gigi: I am so tired of keeping quiet. I have a big mouth and now everyone gets to see who I really am. I hold my tongue for nobody, and a lot of people don't like the truth and at the end of the day I have to be happy with myself. I have to get rid of all the negativity, and I am so tired of all the B.S. because so many people are all about the BS.
Do you think Reality TV helped you or hurt you?
Gigi: It's definitely hard because my whole personal life is out there, so it';s difficult because many people are commenting, "you should do this," and I understand that and appreciate the support of fans, but at the same time, I'm growing up and trying to find my own way and I just really have to be happy with what I want to do at the end of the day.
How was it working with Betsey Johnson?
Gigi: She's fabulous! She's the biggest fashion icon that I ever met, she is so down to earth. She is so cool and humble and I got to talk to her and you would think that she would be so different but she's not, she's so down to earth.
We've all seen your weight fluctuate, are you doing anything special?
Gigi: You know what, I feel like after each breakup I lose weight. I swear to god, it’s like when one guy is done, I’m like I gotta get in shape, focus on myself, cut out carbs and now I’m actually working out. A few months ago I gained some weight and I wasn't happy with myself, so now I want to get in shape and work on myself.
What are you future plans?
Gigi: I definitely want to have my own line of hair, so I’m working on that now. I want everything out of life.
Wanda Sykes brings her comedy tour to Atlantic City, discusses marriage equality and life after breast cancer
by Whitney Ullman
Entertainment Weekly once named Wanda Sykes one of the 25 funniest people in America. If you haven't seen her in person, now's your chance because this hilarious comedian is headlining at The Borgata May 3 - 4!
NJ.com chatted with Wanda about everything from her routine while in the casino, to her thoughts about marriage equality. Check it out:
NJcom: Tell us about a typical day for you when you stay in Atlantic City?
Sykes: The Borgata is like a whole different experience for me. This time I'm going to try to be a little more monitored. I'm not talking about on stage, I'm talking about, usually I get myself in a little bit of trouble before the show at The Borgata. Usually I get there, relax a little bit, grab something to eat, a couple of drinks, a little gambling and then next thing I know, I loose all track of time and it's like, 'oh, my god. okay, I need some coffee,' and it's time for the show. But this time, I already know how I am going to space it out, so I'm ready for this trip.
When you gamble, do you prefer table games or slots?
Sykes: I usually like the table games. I play blackjack, but now I'm a little older, I win a little bit on the table and then I'll lose everything. I last much longer on the slot machines.
You're known for naming the fat roll on your stomach Esther. Fans want to know how she is doing and does she still show up unannounced?
Sykes: Oh, Esther is here! Actually I'm going to have to take her to court and file a complaint, because I think she's lost it. I didn't tell her she can bring in other tenants, but I think she moved a friend in upstairs, so it's like, Esther is where she is but now it looks like someone is living above her. So now I've got 2 rolls going on. I don't like this at all.
Are they producing another season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and what's one of your favorite memories from working with Larry David?
Sykes: I have no idea. I don't know if Larry is still doing the shows. I only know when I get the calls to book me for an episode, so I have no idea what's going on with the show.
One of my favorite memories was the very first episode I did, that was I think my favorite. That was the one where he drives by and he says 'Hey, I know that tush anywhere.' That was the most memorable and most favorite because it was the first time doing it. It was a funny episode and because it was the first one for me. He kept laughing, he could not keep a straight face. We had to keep shooting and doing things over because he could not keep a straight face.
Was the filming of "New Adventures of Old Christine" as fun as it was to watch?
Sykes: Oh, yea, yes. We had a great time during that show, the entire cast was so much fun. We would get into giggling fits and all, but I really miss doing that show.
Are you bringing back your late night talk show "The Wanda Sykes Show"?
Sykes: No, no! You know I did it, it was every Friday night when we filmed and aired on Saturday. But it was hard; it was work. I don't see how those guys do it every night. It was hard but I enjoyed it.
Talk to us about your journey of recovery from breast cancer?
Sykes: Yes, I don't think about it until I get out of the shower, and look myself in the mirror and see a scar and think, 'oh, wow, I forgot. Yeah, I had cancer.' During that time it was scary, but I had a lot of support and I also had a couple of friends who I have lost and a lot of friends who are going through it right now. I also knew I was very, very fortunate to have detected it at such an early stage. So yes, I was pretty confident that I was going to be okay and I'm all good today.
What are your feelings with regards to the enormous amount of support for same sex marriage equality?
Sykes: I'm very optimistic, especially because I have kids and you want the world to be a good place for them. I am very hopeful that I see the shift in the country that is more supportive of marriage equality.
Speaking of kids, how does it feel being a mom of twins?
Sykes: Tiring, but it's the best thing I've ever done, but it's tiring.
Has the direction of your career changed at all since you made your sexual orientation public?
Sykes: It really hasn't changed as far as the direction of it. I actually feel like I have more freedom now because there's no secrets. Everything is just out there on the table. So, I think it just opened up more things for me.
What can we look forward to in the future of Wanda Sykes?
Sykes: I have a movie coming out at the end of June or beginning of July. It's a small movie called The Hot Flashes. It's with myself, Brooke Shields, Camryn Manheim, Daryl Hannah, Virginia Madsen and Eric Roberts. We reunite our high school championship basketball team to challenge the current team for a charity game, because we are trying to save our towns mobile mammography unit. It's a lot of fun.
Whitney is an on-air multimedia personality, and works behind the scenes helping businesses gain extra exposure, through her WIN Promotions video production services.