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POP Interview: Wildly Funny Jack Gray Sounds Off On Anderson Cooper, Kathy Griffin, And The Best Ice Cream Flavor Not Invented Yet.

It would be far too simple to say that Jack Gray is a producer on Anderson Cooper’s AC 360. He’s also a hilarious author who has gotten drunk with Kathy Griffin, driven a disheveled Joan Kennedy home from jury selection, and dared to look New York City in the eye and take it by storm. His new book, ‘Pigeon In A Crosswalk’ is out now. I asked him about it and he took not a single one of my questions seriously.

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Jack GrayIt would be far too simple to say that Jack Gray is a producer on Anderson Cooper’s AC 360. He’s also a hilarious author who has gotten drunk with Kathy Griffin, driven a disheveled Joan Kennedy home from jury selection, and dared to look New York City in the eye and take it by storm. His new book, ‘Pigeon In A Crosswalk’ is out now. (BUY IT HERE.) I asked him about it and he took not a single one of my questions seriously.

Your name seems like you were made to be working in television – or as a private eye. (Doesn’t that sound cool? “Jack Gray, Private Eye” ??) It seems like you always knew you were going to be in the TV business. If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing right now?

Well there’s Jack Black, there’s Jack White. There’s a need for a Jack Gray, right?  I don’t know what I’d be doing right now if I wasn’t working in TV and writing essays.  I’m kind of fascinated by obituaries.  Is that too morbid for PopGoesTheWeek.com?

Sammy Tell us about the book, ‘Pigeon In A Crosswalk.’ How do you describe it to people?

It’s a collection of essays that will hopefully make people laugh.  Topics range from my family, my career in TV news, working for Anderson Cooper, random adventures with celebrities, and, of course, my dog, Sammy.

You have more than a million twitter followers – and yet, you only follow 2 thousand people. What does it feel like to leave 998,000 people feeling a little disappointed? I’m joking, but seriously – what does that feel like?

 I think most of my Twitter followers are spammers. I think like three people really follow me.  And those three are more interested in pictures of my dog than anything I’m doing.  And I don’t blame them. My dog is cute.

You seem to have a million stories of your life working in television, and the names and faces that you’ve encountered along the way. (Your Joan Kennedy story is a personal favorite of mine.) Who would you say is the person you’ve been the most excited to meet?

Nora Ephron left one of the biggest impressions on me. She was so smart and so funny.  I produced an interview with her when I worked in local news in Boston.  A few days later we got a handwritten thank-you note in the mail from her.  Unheard of.  She was amazing.

pigeonYou rag a bit on Anderson Cooper a bit in this book, lovingly so. Do you make jokes at his expense when you’re working with him? Or are you secretly hoping he doesn’t read your book?

Ha, well, he has read the book, even though I didn’t think celebrities knew how to read.  But, in fact, he gave me a great blurb for the back cover and I’m on his syndicated daytime talk show this Wednesday.  I’m lucky that he has a wonderful sense of humor about himself.  He can take any joke.

Yes, your book jacket is a who’s who of recommendations!  I was blown away!

What do you think the biggest misconception people you grew up with have about your life? (I find that people always think that everyone working in television is a millionaire. And yet, I just ate two slices of cold pizza for breakfast.

People always think just because I work in television in New York that I can get them tickets to Saturday Night Live.  I don’t work at NBC, I don’t know anyone at SNL, nothing.  I couldn’t have less clout.  And yet that’s the favor I get asked the most.  I should just refer them to you.  You probably know people over there.  You know everyone.

Oh my God, I’ve had that happen too! I also once had a long lost cousin who lost custody of her son track me down and ask me if I could get Ellen (as in Ellen DeGeneres) to help her. I’m dead serious.

Okay, moving on. You had a Hamptons sleepover with Kathy Griffin and Kelly Ripa and Anderson Cooper? (Am I getting that right?) Who drank the most?

 Ha, well, Kelly didn’t sleep over.  We had a nice dinner with her and her husband Mark Consuelos that weekend, but they wisely went back to their own home.  But, yeah, Kathy and I spent the weekend with Anderson at his house.  It was as insane as you would think a sleepover with her would be.  We went out there a night ahead of Anderson and she kept making me text him photos of her wearing his underwear.  I headed right for the wine, and lots of it.

What I wouldn’t give for one of those photos! Whose underwear were you wearing? Okay, never mind, I’m getting off topic. What’s the one question you get asked the most? And what question don’t you get asked nearly enough?

 The question I get asked the most, besides SNL tickets, is “what’s Anderson really like?”  And to that I say: wonderful, absolutely wonderful.  Just don’t make eye contact unless he initiates it.  As for the question I don’t get asked nearly enough:  “May I take your dog out for you so you don’t have to walk in the rain this morning?”

Angela Lansbury Ice CreamFantasy world question: If you were forced to restrict the world to only one flavor of ice cream, which flavor would be the last one standing, and why?

It would be a fruity ice cream called “Angela Lans-berry” and I would marry it.

WOW! You just invented a flavor, just like that! I would love to speak at the wedding reception. I would like to think I helped you two meet. 

Meanwhile, I’ve taken the liberty of creating the packaging… Admit it… it’s awesome.

Buy Pigeon In A Crosswalk today!

Meanwhile, Follow @JackGrayCNN and @BrianBalthazar on twitter! 

 

Books

Teacher Goes Viral For Sharing Favorite Children’s Books That Discuss Racism

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Reading has never been more fundamental.

In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many more the protests against police brutality and racial injustices have officially spread across the entire United States and even to nations around the globe. The protests have brought a lot of questions about race and racism to the surface leaving a lot of people wondering how they can become more educated on the subject. Luckily, an inclusive pre-kindergarten teacher named Brittany Smith tweeted a list of recommended reading to teach children more about race and racism.

The Twitter thread showcases over 25 books and has already been liked over 400,000 times and retweeted over 200,000 times. Talking to Buzzfeed Brittany said “I work with a diverse array of students from all backgrounds, and — as a black woman myself — I know the importance of representation and diversity within the classroom. Creating a welcoming and safe environment for all students means having representation, acknowledging and celebrating differences.”

We are incredibly lucky to have people like Brittany in the world who are educating the next generation to help insure this country is growing in the right direction. To see the entire list and to follow Brittany on Twitter click here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Instagram

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Melody Balthaser On Her New Book “Seeking Sophie.”

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Seeking-Sophie-CoverMelody Balthaser, author, mother, (and my sister-in-law!) just released her new book “Seeking Sophie.” Set in a lighthouse, the story is all at once suspenseful, romantic, thrilling and inspiring. I was proud to be able to talk to her about the story, and her own personal journey in publishing it.

PGTW: So what is the book actually about?

Melody: This book is about a young woman finding her place in a male dominated nineteenth-century world. It is a struggle between the desire for independence and belonging. – A common theme in my writing 🙂 

And what’s the message?  

The message throughout the book is that no matter what the situation looks like there is always hope. 

I’m always fascinated by the journey – the internal one – that it takes to form and write a story. You’ve been kind of fascinated by lighthouses for a while, now, I know… tell me how this all came together….

It sounds funny but this story just began to take shape in my mind. Characters came alive and took up residence in my brain and the story unfolded over the next few years! I had read a little harlequin romance about a lighthouse keeper whose wife died suddenly and he had to row ashore and find a wife immediately. Lighthouses and the mystic surrounding them have always fascinated me so it was a perfect setting for my story.    

What about Maine inspired you to set the scene here?
 
It parallels life with its contrasts between rocky coastline, frigid ocean, gnarled coastal spruce and soft tangerine sunrises, wildflowers and blueberry bushes. I especially love the scent of pine mixed with salty, sea air!

Mel SmileDid you always suspect how the story would unfold? Did you always know how it would go?

No, I began to write it immediately but it took many years to develop as I was busy with a family and had no real aspirations of becoming an author at that time.

What do you ultimately hope that people take away from it?

I hope that people realize how much God loves them and that His plans for them are excellent! I also want people to be inspired to be tenacious and courageous in living out their lives.

This is obviously a labor of love for you – so in addition to knowing the story in the book itself, I’m dying to know your own story of evolution – how does it feel to accomplish such an amazing thing? To me, being an author, publishing a book – is a dream and such a big deal! What does it feel like?

I have always envied people who know exactly what they wanted to be from an early age. I, on the other hand, felt like a butterfly flitting from one flower to another as I tried different careers. I never knew I had a gift for novel writing. At bookstores, I would gaze at the books lining the shelves and wonder what it would be like to have my name on the cover.

I love it!! What has been the most surreal or ‘pinch me’ moment since the book has come out?

Holding my first copy of Seeking Sophie and laying in bed reading it just like I had done with so many other novels over the years. This one had my name on the cover!

I can imagine!! I also happen to know you have a husband and three kids and a job and church activities you’re involved in – so how did you find the time to do this?

I’ve come to the conclusion that every phase of life has it’s challenges and I’m constantly trying to find focus and prioritize my activities. I love early mornings when my family is still sleeping and the only sound is the gentle trickling of our fish tank. I pour myself a strong cup of coffee and step into the minds of my characters.

What message would you give to other women (and moms) who have a dream of becoming an author?

Becoming an author takes determination to see your story through to the ending and stay with the process of critiques and editing and publication. You have to do the hard work but in the end it takes submitting it to God and allowing Him to open the right doors in His perfect timing.

I’m so happy for you!!!

Purchase your own copy of Seeking Sophie on Amazon, or at the Crossriver media website!

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Casting Schmasting: Gilbert Gottfried Should Play Christian Grey (VIDEO)

Remember this hilarious video where Gilbert Gottfried does the audio book for ’50 Shades of Grey’? It’s hilarious. Enough of the uproar about casting the roles in the movie. Gottfried is clearly the man for the job.

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Gilbert GottfriedRemember this hilarious video where Gilbert Gottfried does the audio book for ’50 Shades of Grey’?  It’s hilarious. Enough of the uproar about casting the roles in the movie. Gottfried is clearly the man for the job.

This video first went viral back in May – but it’s well worth another listen… unless you don’t like racy adult romance. WARNING: ADULT LANGUAGE

For more viral videos, follow @BrianBalthazar on twitter! 

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