They started in New Jersey and ended up in the homes of millions across the country. According to NewJerseyNewsroom.com, New Jersey natives are some of the most prominent figures on entertainment channels. Whether they’re making us laugh, telling the news or putting their personal lives on display, these New Jerseyans shine on the small screen. Watching the divorce rise on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” isn’t the only way to get a piece of home. Support home-grown TV figures, and watch these stars do what they do they do best.
Although he was born in New York City, “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart grew up in Jersey performing stand-up comedy and listening to Springsteen. Stewart grew up in Lawrence Township, where he played soccer at Lawrence High School. Now, he’s an influential voice in the political sphere, using his satirical platform to unveil hypocrisy and effect change. Stewart and Stephen Colbert, a former “The Daily Show” cast member and current host of “The Colbert Report,” hosted the Rally to Restore Sanity in 2010, a celebrity-laden show that spoke out against partisan rhetoric, among other things. Later this year, Stewart will take a 12-week sabbatical from “The Daily Show” to direct his first feature film, a drama based on the story of Maziar Bahari, a Canadian-Iranian journalist who was jailed in 2009, according to Nytimes.com.
Equal parts intelligent and humorous, “The Daily Show” is the perfect platform to showcase Stewart. This former New Jersey bartender has come a long way since cracking jokes at dive bars, and it appears his best is yet to come.
Photo: Jon Stewart, Cabaret Benefit, 2008- Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Rubenstein
Best known as the the anchor on “NBC Nightly News,” Brian Williams grew up in Elmira and later lived in Middletown. He attended Mater Dei High School and volunteered as a firefighter as a teenager. Eventually, Williams dropped out of a local community college before leaving to intern with President Jimmy Carter’s administration. Williams worked his way through the news ranks, reporting for more than 10 years before earning a position as weekend anchor and, later, main anchor. Williams’ classic looks and delivery put him in a class with Murrow and Cronkite, trusted newsmen who didn’t pull punches. When he’s not reporting the news, Williams makes regular appearances on “The Daily Show,” “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”
Photo: Brian Williams and Jane Williams, Tribeca Film Festival “Whatever Works” Premiere, 2009- Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Rubenstein
Few soap opera stars have risen to prominence like Kelly Ripa. Not surprisingly, Ripa was a cheerleader at Eastern High School in Voorhees Township, where a teacher encouraged her to pursue acting. The Jersey-born actress got her first break playing Hayley Vaughan on “All My Children.” After more than a decade on the show, Ripa rose to national prominence when she earned a place alongside Regis Philbin on “Live! With Regis and Kelly.” Philbin retired in 2012, but Ripa continues to brighten mornings with her peppy spirit and generous smile.
Photo: Kelly Ripa, Red Dress Collection for the Heart Truth Foundation, 2007- courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user The Heart Truth
The Cast of Jersey Shore
By now, New Jersey’s residents are used to the flack resulting from MTV’s hit reality show “Jersey Shore,” which chronicles young partiers as they tan, drink and fight their way through life. Many of the show’s stars, including Mike Sorrentino and Samantha Giancola, grew up in the towns they came to represent. One show couldn’t contain the likes of Snooki, Pauly D and The Situation, though. “Jersey Shore” stars have appeared on “Dancing With the Stars,” “The Late Show with David Letterman” and the Comedy Central roast of Donald Trump. The cast even collectively earned the title as one of Barbara’s Walters’ 10 most-fascinating people in 2010. No one could have predicted the success of “Jersey Shore,” but these young celebrities are taking advantage of their time in the sun.
Photo: DJ Pauly D and Mike “The Situation” shooting in Florence, 2011- courtesy of I, Sailko via Wikimedia Commons