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POP INTERVIEW: Comedy/Entertainment Radio Hosts Benjamin Viele and Alexander Rodriguez

I was minding my own business as I did my usual intellectual things bettering humanity: drying off my self tanner on a nice walk, eating diet ice cream and casually dropping large sums of cash at Gucci. All of a sudden, these two borderline-psychotic guys showed up threatening to force me into the nearest religious cult center if I did not interview them at once for Pop Goes The Week.



I was minding my own business as I did my usual intellectual things bettering humanity: drying off my self tanner on a nice walk, eating diet ice cream and casually dropping large sums of cash at Gucci. All of a sudden, these two borderline-psychotic guys showed up threatening to force me into the nearest religious cult center if I did not interview them at once for Pop Goes The Week. I quickly learned when they aren’t converting people out on Rodeo Drive via kidnapping them in large, homemade burlap sacks, they are professional comedians co-hosting a really cool LA-based entertainment radio show called Happy Hour with Ben and Alexander, have a YouTube reality show and do incredible event planning on the side. So, they weren’t escaped convicted felons after all. Who knew?

Benjamin Viele and Alexander Rodriguez

People know you as being a comedy duo. And while that’s lovely and I love it myself, I want to showcase you guys as businessmen first. So let’s talk all about what you do with your event planning. What goes on? Tell us everything about events you have planned, what goes into the job, etc.
Alexander: We have planned everything from movie release parties, birthday parties, live concerts, to non-profit fundraising events. We really go out of our way to think outside the box and offer the audience a unique experience. There are so many events in Los Angeles and so many of those events are exactly the same as the other – let me yawn and poor me another martini! We want the attendees to remember the point of the event and who threw it – the best advertising is word of mouth. You definitely remember that you have been to a Sa Sa Production – and if you don’t remember it, we have the blackmail pictures, I mean evidence.

Benjamin: And not only do we have the event planning, we also have a product that will be hitting the market soon. The patents are being worked out now, but I can proudly say it’s a pretty sexy product and I think a lot of people will respond to it! Shit, hopefully anyway!! Ha Ha

When embarking on creating a radio show, such as yours, what steps need to be made?
Alexander: Well, you need to have a voice. Radio doesn’t work with mute people very well, oh and you have to have killer hair – just ask Ben. Seriously, you need to have a clear point of view and create a program that is entertaining and accessible to your intended audience. Add some intrigue for the casual listener and you quickly grow your fanbase. It’s instrumental to have a mentor in the business. Ann Walker & Tony Sweet, the owners of Universal Broadcasting Network (where we broadcast from) have been amazing to us, guiding us along the way in setting up our show and showing us the ropes. The fact that Ben and I can laugh ourselves into a stupor even in jail doesn’t hurt – we always have something to laugh or talk about – that is refreshing among this day and age where media seems so full of gloom and doom.

Benjamin: Hey man, don’t hate on the hair!! He’s jealous because he has to flat iron every morning!! SA SA! But the shows seem to be falling into place! Alexander and I seem to think on the same twisted frequency, so our sense of humor allows us to maybe think we are funnier than we really are!!

Sometimes, you might worry about a guest not talking. It happens! When it does, what do you do to fill the air time naturally?
Alexander: Well, we start off the show by pouring drinks for ourselves and our guests. If they aren’t entertaining by the middle of the show, we have them bound and gagged and shipped off to Calcutta. Being best friends, Ben and I have a great way to communicate with non verbals so we know when to take the show back over from our guests if they aren’t really working out. We love talking about ourselves, so it isn’t hard. ; ) We also have about two pages of notes by our side, our “emergency topics”, filled with funny news, hot Hollywood topics, or funny memory stories to take over if our guests don’t deliver. Or sometimes we just turn their microphone off.

Benjamin: OH MY GOD, I guess we’re gag and bounding people mid show now! JUST KIDDING!! Not literally, but answering the question, if you put a few drinks in front of most people they tend to loosen up. Then we have to get them to shut up not speak up…with love of course!!

Some of the stuff you post on your blog is really funny. Like the “Who wore it best?” fight off with the leotard: Beyonce at the Super Bowl 2013 vs. Rocky Horror. Is this your intent with your radio show’s theme, to be the gigglefest that lifts people up when they have a bad day?
Alexander: There is so much media covering the international warfare, the economy, politics and other deep stuff (do you like how I said deep stuff?). We never pretend to be that kind of media – we never take ourselves too seriously, and neither should our audience. We represent that time of the week where you really can just lean back and enjoy some funny chat and stop worrying about the crappy things in life. It truly is happy hour, regardless of if you drink or not – you never know how happy hour is going to end up, but you do know that you will spend some time with friends, have some laughs, and walk away with a smile. We offer that, just without the bill. When people are having a really shitty day, they can click on our show and laugh with us…or at us.

Benjamin: Exactly! When we first started talking about what we wanted our show/brand to be about, we both agreed we wanted everyone to have fun when they saw us or were with us! We all need to loosen up a bit and not take everything so seriously! As cliché as its sounds, life truly is extremely short, and we choose to have a little fun with it!!!

What is your opinion of Kanye West and his girlfriend, whose name I guess I don’t need to mention? Some K lady.
 They say that great minds think alike. I guess the others just date and have babies. When they get married, Ben & I will interrupt the wedding and say, “I’m sorry, but Kris Humphries had one of the best weddings of all time. Oh wait…” then slink off to the open bar waiting for our E! Television spin off.

Benjamin: And there you have it folks!! HAHAHAHAHAHA All I can say is what the hell?!?!?! It’s kind of like the scene in Pretty Woman… “Kit, his bathroom is bigger than the Blue Banana..” Kits response.. “DO I HAVE TO HEAR THIS!?!?!!”

If she ever doesn’t want to stay married to him past two months, would you consider going on a date with Kim or Kanye? Or both? Do you think I have a shot just to get free publicity for my cookbooks if I dated Kim or Kanye?
 I’d rather be stranded on an island with Donald Trump…and his hair. If you dated Kim or Kanye (hell, date them both) – your cookbook would definitely get some great publicity. What would the title be? Talented Cooking for the Untalented? For Kim. Don’t Interrupt Me, I’m Cooking! For Kanye.

Benjamin: OOHH HELL NO!! I think that question almost gave me a slight anxiety attack!! They’re all yours!!! TAKE EM!!!!

Who is your favorite pop culture personality now to laugh about? I realize how mean that sounds now that I say it. D’oh. But I myself laugh at people’s bad outfits in tabloids.
Alexander: The tabloids are really fun – if I wasn’t so cheap I would actually subscribe to all of the trash mags instead of just reading them in the aisle of the supermarkets while I buy my wine and ice cream. What I find more entertaining than Lindsay falling down (which is pant peeing material) or awful outfits (I live in Los Angeles, home to the What the Hell Are Those Pants Brigade) – is the way that the media turns on their favorite stars. They build up the newcomers or the award winners but the minute they are seen picking their nose or slapping a pony they are torn apart! Its kind of scary the power that the tabloids have. I think they are single handedly responsible for Liz & Dick. Unforgiveable.

Benjamin: Can I say the Housewives Chain??? It’s a plethora of choices at any given moment!! Outfits, one liners, shit stirring drama, these women are off the hook and I LOVE It!!!!!

Have either of you thought about giving all of this up and pursuing a career more like Courtney Stodden’s?
Alexander: I’m not as talented as Courtney, although we are both lactose intolerant. If I wasn’t doing this, I think I would have a fantastic career of selling oranges on the freeway. I have that winning smile.

Benjamin: Ahh man, bless her heart! What else can you say! Sweet Jesus!!!!!

Benjamin, you are from a town called Illiopolis, Illinois. I am actually from Illinois and love it there so much. Problem is, I can’t find you on the map. Are you anywhere near where I am from, Chickaboomboomwow, which is south of St. Louis and near Lake Michigan? We have a great high end shopping district. Perhaps you’ve heard of us.


Grrr! In all seriousness, I Googled it and found it’s a real 900-people village in Sangamon County, where our state capital is, so now I feel bad for teasing you. 😛 With that in mind, did you ever hang out at the Capitol and remember seeing me when I was in Springfield from 2002-2005ish? I bet I saw you at the state fair or the movies? As you and I know well, Illinois is the size of a large man’s back and, OK, everyone is everyone’s cousin there. We may even be related. From Illinois to LA, what is the story of how you both met in California?
Alexander: I was headlining at the Roxy and Ben begged to be in my act. The rest is history. Actually, Ben was bartending during Happy Hour and I wanted free drinks.

Benjamin: Uh huh!! WHATS UP NOW!!! I do come from a “village” but damn it I am beyond proud of that little town! I learned so much about family, community, morals, values, and trusting people. It was an extremely long journey to get to L.A. Most people choose to not take the route I did. Most of my friends chose to stay in the area, and that’s awesome, it just wasn’t for me! And if you were there during that time, you probably would have seen me at good ole Fitclub, or slinging bottles over at Chilis!! Holy crap you probably did know me back then!!!

With all the losers you could meet in Los Angeles, because admit it, you two are really a pair of losers with a capital “L” like “Clueless,” what made you two think you were a great team a la “Dumb and Dumber?” And who of you counts as the “dumber” individual, anyway?
Alexander: No, sweetie, we are not Dumb and Dumber – I wouldn’t be caught dead with that hair. Actually, we are much closer to Romi and Michelle for sure, down to the gym outfits. I’m the Mary, he’s the Rhoda. The minute we met, I knew this smart mouthed, stubborn, sassy pants, frustrating, loud mouthed, Italian gesturing, Christina listening, medical card owning, nacho eating freak would be my best friend. Well, at least until Kanye shows up.

Benjamin: He does wear neon shorts at the gym!! I’ll be the dumber! What the hell, someone’s got to do it! And all I can say is I’m having the time of my life!! And, Annelle, you gotta lighten up!!!!

How exactly does a YouTube reality show work? How do you edit this so it is as appealing, or as dreadful, your pick, as cable TV reality?
Alexander: Editing? What’s that? Our reality show is not like cable TV reality – ours is real. Just like happy hour, we don’t try to be something we are not. Called “You’re Driving Me Crazy” – it is literally Ben & me on camera in the car with all of our shenanigans that go along with it. Its not like a dramatic telenovela of our lives. When we are in the car roaming around, we sing, we dance, Ben smokes – I complain about it, we fight, we talk about stupid stuff, we laugh..Ben smokes – I complain about it, we run into celebrities, I run into all kinds of things from parking posts to signs to buildings to small animals, we chat people up in the other cars and Ben smokes – I complain about it. It’s a carryover from our radio show, but our audience gets to sit in the car with us. Without the smells.

Benjamin: Every day is dramatic telenovela with Alexander!! That’s what so appealing! But seriously, this isn’t scripted and the editing is simply cutting out dead time to create shorter, funnier clips. But what happens, happens! What’s said is said, and so forth.

Why aren’t you having something peculiar happen on the show? Like marrying Hugh Hefner, getting plastic surgery, using up a lot of money on a Black American Express credit card, stepping out of a car with no underwear, etc…ALL IN THE SAME DAY? Hello, ratings? You guys are pathetic.
Alexander: Peculiar? Have you seen Ben’s dancing on our show? I think what makes our humor appealing and part of our charm is that we are not peculiar or out of the ordinary. We are the two fun guys that live next door that are always losing their keys, borrowing alcohol, or passing out on your couch – you love us! I haven’t stepped out of a car with no underwear, but I have stumbled out of a car in full goth kid gear (chains, spikes and black makeup) when I thought I was a club kid – the cop asked me to step out of the car and my chains got snagged on the gear shift and yanked me back – very Emo. I think this was last week.

Benjamin: And I AM DOWN FOR EVERY ONE OF THOSE THINGS!! U in Ms. Thing??

Your show absolutely sucks. I know this without clicking on a single episode to watch it because I assume it must be like “The Kardashians” on E! So therefore, why should I or anyone else with half a brain left watch it? Is this funny or would I have more fun sweeping leaves at my grandma’s house? Because really, the leaves seem like a better option.
Alexander: Why is your grandmother’s house on stilts? Well, I know for a fact that your grandmother loves us and is a huge fan – furthermore she doesn’t want you on her lawn anymore, she has enough lawn gnomes. We are funny because we don’t try to be. We don’t sit around and tell jokes or do standup. We laugh at life and all it has to offer. We put the fun back in funeral. We are the ones putting whoopee cushions in the boardroom. We are the ones breakdancing in the grocery store because we don’t care. Even if our antics are stupid, you still will smile and say, “Aw Shucks….Alexander is the Mary!

Benjamin: HAHAHHAA….You’ve got him going after your grandma now!!!! This is funny! It’s not glamourized or plumped full of fillings!! It’s friends being creative, building a company, and living life in LA and trying bring some sort of happiness and laughter to a kind of pissed off world!

How can people listen to your radio show, smell your fragrance, etc.? What projects are in the works? Talk about it all here. Like anyone is reading, but assume people care about you two as a charitable contribution to society.
Alexander: We broadcast live every Tuesday from Sunset Gower Studios at the Universal Broadcasting Network. Our radio show is streamable, downloadable, iTuneable, facebookable…hell, for a bottle of vodka we will even come to your house and recreate the last episode. We actually have a huge project in the works that will incorporate our radio and YouTube show all for charity. You can find us on iTunes – just search for Happy Hour with Ben & Alexander, or on, and of course, our website Check us out!!!!

Benjamin: We do have some major projects in the works. We are partnering with the American Cancer Society and producing a huge event back in Springfield, IL actually! I lost my best friend to cancer ten years ago, my grandfather was just diagnosed with lung cancer before Christmas, and I’ve had some extremely important people in my life affected with it as well. We are going to be doing a drive-a-thon from Los Angeles to Springfield and producing our cabaret show back at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, IL. We hope to be able to present the American Cancer Society with a large check at the show, and there are many more components to this but we are working them out right now sooo.. STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES!!

And we have a product that will be hitting the market soon! Patents are being written and we are working on the packaging, but it’s definitely something that everyone’s going to want to enjoy!! We’ve got some pots on the fire man!! Life is pretty great!! SA SA!!


Who Is This Brian Balthazar Guy, Anyway?

Did you see Brian on TV today? Wondering who he is? Here’s much more than you wanted to know. They leave the part out that he loves a well mixed Dark And Stormy, but let’s keep things professional…




You may have seen Brian Balthazar on television this morning, heard him on the radio, or read about some recent developments in the world of media and pop culture. But who the hell is this guy? Brian Balthazar leads a double – triple – okay, maybe quadruple life. Part journalist, actor and comic, he appears on many TV shows as a guest, but is also a developer and creator of several television shows behind the scenes. This when he’s not renovating homes and making snacks for his websites, and

After launching the fourth hour of the Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, he turned his attention to cable television, overseeing the direction and development of several shows on HGTV, including Flip or Flop, Love It Or List It, Christina On The Coast, House Hunters, Hit Properties with Nathan Morris, Flea Market Flip and dozens more.

As a comic he served as the opening act for Russell Brand In New York City and the MTV series Man and Wife featuring hype man Fatman Scoop.  He has performed at The Comic Strip, Caroline’s On Broadway, Gotham Comedy Club and more.Wendy Williams Show Feb 2013

In addition to being a frequent guest on “The Wendy Williams Show,” (he co-hosted several times during Williams’ three week break) and appearing on the “Today” show, where he guest co-hosted with Jenna Hager-Bush,  Brian has frequently been seen co-hosting the syndicated TV gossip show Page Six TV.

Additionally, he was the sideline reporter for HGTV’s Rose Parade Coverage, hosted the HGTV Special I Bought A Famous House, and has appeared on CBS’s The Talk, HLN’s Showbiz Tonight, MSNBC’s Caught On Camera, The Joy Behar Show, and more.

Brian Balthazar Kathie Lee Hoda

An appearance on the fourth hour of the TODAY show with Kathie Lee and Hoda.

He has also been an emcee for many notable events and sponsors, including work as a brand ambassador for Bombay Company, the co-host of the Miss Tennessee and Miss Mississippi USA pageants, and a red carpet host at the Daytime Emmy Awards.

You may also have seen Brian in some viral videos, most notably a recent parody of Bird Box, and a satirical look at House Hunters’ Writers’ Room.

HGTV – House Hunters Writer’s Room from Buffalo Picture House on Vimeo.

 Brian Balthazar Bombay

Appearing in a series of videos for Bombay Company.


Brian has provided analysis, interviews and helped co-host the Tony Awards backstage show. He also followed all the backstage madness at the launch of Fashion Week in New York City while co-hosting the Red Dress Event. He has been a roving reporter for the Dr. Oz show. Earlier in his career he was a features reporter and contributor on NBC, MSNBC, United Airlines In-Flight Entertainment and more.

For A&E network, Brian appeared in an episode of Biography about Jim Carrey. He also provided play by play of some of film’s greatest car chases for a documentary about, well, car chases. (Ask his family and they will tell you: NO one would have expected to see him in a show about cars. We’ll leave it at that.)


Before ‘finding himself’ professionally, Brian was a singer on a ship, a publicist for a trance medium, an insurance customer service rep, waiter, bartender, activities director, substitute teacher, website programmer, pianist at a camp for spoiled children, and college mascot. None of them worked out. Let’s hope this does.

To contact Brian, email

To check out his video clips from NBC, HLN, and MSNBC, click HERE…

And – become his friend on facebook!

For a more extensive listing of his TV appearances visit his IMDB page.

And he’s apparently getting better about Twitter. So he says. He’s @BrianBalthazar.

Thanks for reading POP GOES THE WEEK!

For his TV Appearances, Click on the TV APPEARANCES page.

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POP in the Kitchen! The Perfect Snack and Cocktail Pairings.



POP Goes The Week’s Brian Balthazar is part of the all new Food Network Kitchen App! Cook LIVE alongside Brian as he makes get party food and the drinks that go perfectly with them!

Hey everyone! I’m so excited for this – I was thrilled to be a part of the new app, which is an all new way to cook with your favorite chefs and cooking experts. In the app, you can get the recipe and ingredients and recipe in advance, check the live class schedule, then cook at the very same time as your instructor!

I was fortunate enough to be invited to do a live snack and cocktail pairing, which you can still watch – and cook along with me! Trust me, these all start out as live, which means anything can happen! (I have an adventure with the broiler in one of them!)

Download the app here.

For my recipes, I made a pulled pork toast with queso, sour cream radishes and green onions, along with a smoky mezcal paloma.

Pulled Pork Toasts with Sour Cream, Queso, Radishes and Green onions, garnished with cilantro. The recipe is literally those ingredients stacked onto baguette slices!

In another class, I make lavender honey that gets drizzled right on top of baked brie with herbs, then use that same lavender honey for my own interpretation of a “Bees Knees” cocktail that I call a “Bees Knees Breeze.” I came up with the variation because the original recipe, simply gin, honey and lemon was just TOO strong for me and I found myself always getting plastered!

Check out the gallery of what I made, all available on the FNK app!

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I hope you can check them out, AND all your favorite instructors like Bobby Flay, Giada de Laurentiis and Ree Drummond!



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‘Saved By The Bell’ Cast Reunited For 30th Anniversary – And I’m So Excited



If you think your high school experience feels like ancient history then it won’t bring you any comfort to know that Saved By The Bell debuted 30 years ago!

Back in 1989, Saved By The Bell hit the small screen and quickly became a television staple. Over the course of its four seasons, the sitcom followed Zach Morris and his unique blend of friends as they navigated the tricky waters of high school. Everyone had a favorite Bayside Tiger and the series spawned many memorable scenes…but you are a liar if you didn’t say your favorite scene was where Jessie broke down crying after coming to terms with her caffeine pill addiction while crying out the most iconic line ever, “I’m so excited…I’m so excited…I’m so…scared”


In any event, some of Bayside’s most memorable students reunited over the weekend to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the hit sitcom. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zach Morris), Tiffany Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski), Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) and Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie Spano) all gathered together to hit us right in the nostalgia. Notably missing were Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) and Dustin Diamond (Screech). Berkley wrote on her Instagram “FRIENDS FOREVER!!!” along with some sweet and fun hashtags. Lopez upped the ante and posted a video recapping the fun time the gang had as they reminisced on the days way back when. WHY WASN’T THIS TELEVISED?!? Many are speculating the reunion to be the beginnings of a reboot or revival but nothing of the sort has yet been confirmed.



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FRIENDS FOREVER #spousestoo!!!❤️❤️❤️#imsoexcited #buddybands #love #friends #family #life #magic

A post shared by Elizabeth Berkley Lauren (@elizberkley) on



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Credit card roulette comin up! #OldSchool

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