Serico Stories
Mandy Patinkin

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Chris Serico • Newsday • March 29, 2013 • Photo: Newspixs

Mandy Patinkin’s versatility as a performer is so impressive that he can go from playing CIA Division Chief Saul Berenson on the gritty Showtime drama, “Homeland,” to headlining Tarrytown Music Hall with his cabaret show, “Dress Casual,” without missing a beat.

Golden Globe-nominated for his performance on “Homeland,” Patinkin told Newsday Westchester last week that it’s incredible that two of the Emmy Award-winning series’ biggest fans are American presidents.

"I was with [President] Clinton and President Obama at a fundraiser, and they both just went on and on about it," said Patinkin. "I was pretty excited."

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Joan Rivers

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Chris Serico • Newsday • April 4, 2013 • Photo: Charles William Bush

Forty-six years after she joked on “The Ed Sullivan Show” about her days as a single woman in Larchmont, Joan Rivers will headline a stand-up comedy show at Purchase College, all of 12 miles away from the village she once called home.

"Purchase is very pretty, and it means I can go home [to New York City] that night and walk my dogs," Rivers, 79, told Newsday Westchester last week. "And I love the live performing, which is the key to everything … I love the interaction with the audience. You can say everything and you can laugh with them. It’s like seeing friends."

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Jay Pharoah

Jay Pharoah talks ‘SNL,’ Obama and upcoming Rockland show
Chris Serico • Newsday • Jan. 18, 2013 • Photo: NBC

It’s already been a good year for “Saturday Night Live” star Jay Pharoah, who will perform a stand-up set Sunday night at Levity Live in West Nyack.

In his third season as a cast member on “SNL,” and his first as a repertory player, the 25-year-old Virginia native has seen a lot more screen time, thanks in large part to his most frequent recurring character, school principal Daniel Frye, and a solid impersonation of President Barack Obama. But his skills as an impersonator don’t stop there, as he’s lauded for eerily accurate takes on Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington and Kanye West.

But even with those chops as an impressionist, the man who was born Jared Antonio Farrow prefers to be known as an actor-comedian.

"I’m not in this thing for being the best impressionist, or nothin’ like that," Pharoah told Newsday Westchester last week. "Because people who pride themselves on having the best impression are sayin’, ‘I’m the best at not bein’ myself,’ which is not really a healthy thing to say. Because, like, if I robbed a car, I couldn’t be like, ‘Well, Will Smith stole that.’ No!"

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Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw

Colbie Caillat, Gavin DeGraw join forces for tour
Chris Serico • Newsday • May 29, 2012 • Photo: Newsday composite

It might be considered unusual for singer-songwriters to perform at a baseball stadium, but it’s something Gavin DeGraw and Colbie Caillat have done before, and will do again June 7 at Provident Bank Park in Pomona.

DeGraw, whose hits include “I Don’t Wanna Be,” “Chariot” and the current double-platinum hit “Not Over You,” said the last time he performed at a minor-league baseball stadium was as a kid, singing the national anthem in upstate New York. And Caillat (“Bubbly,” “Realize,” “Fallin’ For You”) has proved equally patriotic at a baseball venue, performing “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch of the 2010 All-Star Game.

DeGraw says he’s looking forward to the double-billed show with special guest Andy Grammer (“Keep Your Head Up”).

“Any opportunity for people, for strangers, to get drunk together and clap is a good one,” he says with a laugh.

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Grace Potter

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Grace Potter talks Levon Helm, Capitol Theatre shows
Chris Serico • Newsday • Feb. 22, 2013 • Photo: Joseph Llanes

As Grace Potter and the Nocturnals take the stage at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester this Saturday and Sunday night, the rockers will continue to honor the legacy of the late Levon Helm the best way they can: by turning the volume up and bringing the house down.

A day after Elton John, Mumford & Sons and other high-profile musicians performed “The Weight” at the Grammy Awards in honor of Helm — The Band’s legendary drummer who passed away in 2012 — Potter, 29, told Newsday Westchester she hadn’t seen the all-star tribute to one of her idols. She and her band were busy with their 10th anniversary show that Sunday night at Potter’s upstate alma mater, St. Lawrence University.

"We were having a rager — a rager — in the hockey stadium. I got a bloody toe and a fat lip," said Potter, the band’s sultry and spunky lead vocalist.

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Kenny Loggins

Kenny Loggins heads to Peekskill, picks Bill Murray’s ‘best moment’
Chris Serico • Newsday’s Hudson Buzz blog • July 25, 2012 • Photo: Stephen Sexton

When Kenny Loggins performs in Peekskill tonight, his set is likely to include hits that are forever associated with some of the most iconic movies of the ‘80s.

After a successful career as half of the duo Loggins and Messina, and winning a Grammy for co-writing the Doobie Bros. smash hit “What a Fool Believes,” Loggins wrote a string of movie-friendly hits, including “I’m Alright” for the wacky comedy “Caddyshack” (1980), “Footloose” for the appropriately named “Footloose” (1984) and “Danger Zone” for the top-flight drama “Top Gun” (1986).

When I chatted with him last week, Loggins told me that timing had a lot to do with his movie-industry success.

“I think I got in on the pop-music craze in the movies in the ‘80s,” said Loggins, 64. “I don’t think they really exploited pop music until that point. I just lucked into three movies that would become cult classics, you know?”

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Richard Christy

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Howard Stern writer scores Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze soundtrack
Chris Serico • Newsday’s Hudson Buzz blog • Oct. 2, 2012 • Photo: Handout

Better known as a writer and on-air personality for Howard Stern’s radio show, Richard Christy drew from his experience as a musician to score the soundtrack for The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson.

“I was obviously ecstatic, because I’m such a huge fan of the event,” Christy said. “I’ve been a big fan of horror movie soundtracks since I was a little kid. … This [Blaze soundtrack] is right up my alley. It’s the perfect thing for me.”

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Mario Cantone

Mario Cantone preps for ‘rare’ standup show in West Nyack
Chris Serico • Newsday • Aug. 22, 2012 • Photo: Handout

"Sex and the City" star Mario Cantone is tweaking the sequel to his Tony-nominated "Laugh Whore," and fans who catch the comedian’s stand-up sets at Levity Live this weekend may see glimpses of his new one-man show.

Cantone presented a work-in-progress version of the follow-up with five performances at the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal last month. And because the new one-man show is his primary focus these days, Cantone says his live stand-up appearances will be fewer and farther between.

"I don’t like playing clubs; this is a rare thing for me," Cantone said about appearing at Levity Live, citing loyalty to the comedy venues owned by Chris and Steve Mazzilli, and the occasional gig at Tarrytown Music Hall. "I really love [the Mazzilli brothers], and that’s the only reason why I’m doing it. But the audience will be great, so I’m looking forward to it. It’s something I’m forcing myself to do, because I need to refine the material here and there."

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Tom Cotter and Kerri Louise

Tom Cotter, wife have last laugh after ‘America’s Got Talent’
Chris Serico • Newsday • Jan. 7, 2013 • Photo: Xavier Mascareñas

Rockland County comedian Tom Cotter lost NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and its $1 million prize to a trained canine act in September, but he and his wife, fellow comic Kerri Louise, told Newsday Westchester at their Stony Point home that the reality-TV competition’s exposure is priceless.

"I didn’t win a penny," Cotter said. "I didn’t win $1 million. But I feel like I did."

That’s not to say he isn’t mobilizing in its aftermath to take advantage of the momentum.

"This is great right now, but you don’t know when it’s going to stop," Louise said while sitting next to Cotter on their living room couch. "He got his 15 minutes of fame, really. Literally, 15 minutes. And that’s how long it might last. We don’t know."

"Nice," Cotter quipped. "Nice. Yeah, that’s great."

"We’re hoping!" Louise replied with a laugh. "I’m praying! Look, I want it to last. So, we’re working hard at making it last."

"She says that in the bedroom, too," added Cotter, deadpan. "All the time."

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Alan Menken

Alan Menken reflects on Tony Award win
Chris Serico • Newsday • June 11, 2012 • Photo: Lisa Crosby

 New Rochelle native Alan Menken has won eight Academy Awards for his musical contributions to Disney films, but on Sunday night, the northern Westchester County resident finally took home a Tony Award for scoring the Broadway hit “Newsies.”

On Monday, Menken called the victory a relief, in part because it represents the end of a long awards season full of luncheons, meetings, interviews and events, as well as a return to composing songs for new projects at his home office in northern Westchester County.

"And, obviously, this is my first Tony Award, so I’m really thrilled that I finally won one," added Menken, 62.

Menken has collected more Oscars than any other living person, but before “Newsies,” his Tony honors were limited to nominations for Best Original Score for “Beauty and the Beast” in 1994, “The Little Mermaid” in 2008 and “Sister Act” in 2011.

He said his daughters, Anna and Nora, were convinced “Newsies” would be the production that would yield the elusive award. “They said, ‘Oh, Dad, this is going to be the one,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, honey, right. That’s not going to happen,’” Menken added with a laugh. “But, lo and behold!”

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