I've been shooting stills on the set of the Late Night With Johnny P show for a year and a half now, working my way around the studio and documenting what's going on around me. Tonight was the first night that I actually spent the show sitting in the audience. One of his other regular photographers, Jo Cavallo, had been unavailable to work because of school for a month or twelve, making the gig available for me pretty much every month since but one. Now that school has let out, she ran the photo show on the set tonight while I made notes for this blog.
Nothing going on here folks except a little mic maintenance.
I was going to have to write the blog anyway, so why not get a jumpstart by being able to actually listen instead of lining up my shots. I usually wait until the show is aired to write because face it, I just can't remember everything. I still had to watch the show to fill in a lot of blanks. I never learned how to do proper reporting, so enjoy.
So, Potenza's guests for the night are Comedian/Ventriloquist/Magician Gemini, Sal Abbatiello, CEO of Fever Records, and Freedom Williams of C+C Music Factory. As I had already mentioned, his guest host for the evening is no other than former Miss New York and Miss Staten Island, Jamie Lynn Macchia.
Potenza wants to do a quick video promo with Macchia, so he pulls me aside and has me follow them to the green room. I started rolling right away, because that's how I roll :) He doesn't know that I shot a full minute before the 30-second promo began. The rest of the footage is really pretty funny.
The last 25 seconds of footage
The guests are all here, we dive into the spread provided by Nucci's and Seguine Bagels, the cameras are ready, the set has been rearranged from previous episodes, and the lighting has been changed to accommodate the new set-up.
The opening credits roll to get the show started just like you see on Vimeo; I always laugh at how the opening is shot in Manhattan, and then we find out at the end that he's really on his way to Staten Island. That over-the-shoulder look says it all. The struggle is real, folks.
Cue Elvis, Potenza comes out from behind the curtains; he greets the audience with a "How the hell are ya?", he tells us that tonight's show is a tribute to the Legends of Freestyle documentary, written and directed by Steve Stanulis and also featuring Freedom Williams .
And yes, they're experimenting with some new lighting on the set, and I think the show is going to look fabulous when it's aired.
Jamie Lynn Macchia for Co-Host!
Potenza introduces Macchia, who says things are the same except that she has no more crown on her head; Potenza assures her she'll always be Miss New York, and I'm with him on that.
It's been a year since her tenure ended, and in that time she's been doing fundraising for Staten Island University Hospital, appearing at events, and fundraising for pediatric cancer research. The hospital is building a new pediatric cancer center, and she's excited to be at the forefront of that.
Macchia been on the show before. She was here to celebrate the 100th episode with Marky Ramone and Don Jamieson, and they had spoken about having her co-host for a while. Potenza and Macchia were finally get their schedules together so that she could be on the show.
Macchia reminds Potenza that last year he said he didn't need a co-host, and she wants to change his mind about that tonight. He remarked that to be on his show you have to get your feet in the mud with the pigs; she laughed it off and said she was ready.
Last May, Potenza sent Kelly Ripa a video asking for a chance to try out as co-host. She ended up choosing Ryan Seacrest, so she must have needed someone who could pronounce 'tree' better. He knew asking for a try-out was a long shot, but as he said, all you can do is throw shit against the wall until it sticks because anything is possible in America.
Potenza then read an excerpt from a TV Guide article titled "What's At Stake" about the White House proposed federal budget cuts eliminating funding for The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funds PBS shows like Sesame Street, and other shows like The Electric Company and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. You can't get rid of Big Bird! Get rid of The Cosby Show or something.
Potenza's first guest, comedian/ventriloquist/magician Gemini, reminds Potenza of a modern-day Jerry Lewis. He does some terrific and hilarious ventriloquism with a dummy whose name I did not get, but did not seem to understand that his voice was coming from Gemini, whose routine would continue in the guest seat.
He sat down with Potenza and Macchia after his set, and brought out Miss New Jersey to chat with them. The whole exchange was so fast and so funny that I can't even explain it. You'll just have to watch his routine on LNWJP!
Gemini will be performing, amongst many other places, at the Borgata in Atlantic City from June 26 through July 2. Much more information can be found at www.geminicomedy.com.
Gemini and one of his many handy helpers
This was hilarious.
Potenza's next guest has one of the longest bios I've ever read. Sal Abbatiello
formed Fever Entertainment in 1976, who did record label promotion, concert events, artist management company, publishing company, and night clubs.
Born in The Bronx, Abbatiello opened the first disco there in 1976. He recognized the changes coming in music, and convinced his dad to turn his bar into a club. Abbatiello had noticed the street kids rapping over DJs cutting, talked Grand Master Flash into working in the club, and promised that he'd make him a star. The rap music culture was discovered there, and it all took off.
Johnny Potenza, Sal Abbatiello, and Jamie Lynn Macchia
He appeared in the movie Krush Groove as himself; ironically, the club closed before the movie came out; there was so much attention brought to it that it was closed for a lack of a cabaret license.
He is not only responsible for bringing rap music into the club scene, but also did the same thing with another new music form, latin hip-hop, and opened a club called The Devil's Nest.
When he opened Skate Fever, the park across the street was infested with drug dealers, and had been for several years. The community board had asked if he had any ideas about cleaning it up, so he said he'd see what he could do. The dealers had been there for years, and so he hired some ex-cons to get them out of the park. Abbatiello always hired ex-cons; he gave them a chance because no one else would hire them, and none of them ever went back to jail after working for him. He said it took about a month, but they got the dealers out and the park cleaned up; they put in some new basketball courts, and made it a place where people could enjoy themselves.
He's also done a great deal of charity work, including the Erika Roman Foundation For Foster Children. Erika was his foster daughter, and she was an aspiring radio jock who moved to Orlando for a job at a station there. Within two years, her show became number one, and on that day she was out to celebrate with friends and lost her life in a car accident.
He has also been involved in the Macombs Road Youth Association, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of New York, PAL, St. Jude's Hospital - just to name a few. Abbatiello has also played in several basketball tournaments.
Thank you, Sal Abbatiello, for being completely responsible for this video.
Abbatiello also worked with Steve Stanulis on a documentary called Legends of Freestyle, featuring Potenza's next guest, Freedom Williams.
You can (and should) read a lot more about Sal Abbatiello and Fever Records at http://feverrecords.com/about-fever-enterprises/
Freedom Williams Wants To Rock Right Now.
Freedom Williams was an integral part of the group C+C Music Factory, whose hits "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" and "Things That Make You Go Hm" are classics that get any party dancing. Any party I'm at, for sure.
Williams gained an interest in music at a young age; he played trombone in grade school, but quit because it was too big for him to carry. He always knew he wanted to be an entertainer, though. He played Frederick Douglass in his 2nd grade play and realized right there that people really don't take things seriously. The parents were going to be there and all, and the other kids thought it was all a big joke. The day of the show the other kids didn't know their lines, or played them like they didn't care about who their characters were. He was annoyed that they didn't have their acts together, and that the audience was disinterested. That was, until he began his speech, and everyone stopped and watched. He knew right there that he had them, and that performing came naturally to him.
You know you want to get up and dance.
Macchia wants to be a back-up dancer for Williams. She asks how it felt to hear Gonna Make You Sweat over and over because she warmed up to it at dance school all the time.
He tells the story of C+C's break up, and also that he's writing a book called Lip Sync about what goes on behind the scenes. Williams also works in construction; has his own construction company and hires other artists who need work. More about that can be found here.
"Rob Base is underrated" -Freedom Williams
Potenza's next taping will be on August 9, 2017. Go to JohnnyPTV.com to reserve your seat now!! Hope to see you there!
"Late Night With Johnny P" blogs prior to May 2016 can be found on the "TODAY ON THE SCENE" tab
Late Night With Johnny P
There's a lot of excitement in the studio tonight. Even though the evening is bittersweet, there is this energy of the bigger and better things to come, and Potenza is the man with a plan. The final episode of the "Late Night With Johnny P" show is filming tonight, and the place is packed.