Former Eagles Linebacker Makes Film Debut in The North Star

Benjamin Jones (Jeremiah Trotter) carries Lewis (John Wooten) in The North Star.

Benjamin Jones (Jeremiah Trotter) carries Lewis (John Wooten) in The North Star.

The feature film debut of former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter will premiere at the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center on September 17th. It is Trotter’s first film acting credit.

The North Star was helmed by first-time film director Thomas K. Phillips, who wrote, directed and produced the film. It was shot over 24 days in Bucks County in the summer of 2012 and tells the story of Benjamin Jones (Trotter) and Moses Hopkins (Thomas C. Bartley Jr., a Washington, D.C. native). The two characters are slaves who escaped from Virginia to Buckingham, Pa., in 1849. Read more »

Chase Utley: The Perfect Philadelphia Athlete

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Chase Utley had doubled, knocking in a run. The National League still trailed in the 2014 All-Star Game, but the team had finally scored. Utley, on second, went into his trademark celebration: Hands on his hips, staring forward with a small smirk on his face. It’s as if Utley were a baseball-playing robot, thinking “my programming helped me achieve that positive baseball result” to himself.

The only other Philadelphia athlete in recent memory that attracted the kind of universal adulation as Chase Utley is Brian Dawkins. Utley appeared to be designed in a factory designed to produce the kind of athlete designed to appeal to every Philadelphia fan: He kept his head down and didn’t say much. He went 100 percent at every opportunity. The blue-collar fan stereotype is overblown, but there is a segment of the Philadelphia fanbase that likes guys who play hard and keep quiet. They can pretend it’s them out there, just doing a job.

Utley put up solid numbers every year. He had nice arms. He would show up at, like, the Morning Glory diner. He and his wife had a charity, anti-animal abuse, that everyone could agree with. His swing reminded people of Ted Williams. He tied a World Series record held by Reggie Jackson. Both of his famous quotes involve him dropping an F-bomb. How could anyone not like this guy? The only other Phillie possibly beloved as much as Utley was Richie Ashburn. Read more »

Report: Chase Utley Traded to L.A. Dodgers

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The Phillies have agreed to a deal that sends Chase Utley to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor leaguers, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. He reports the trade is not yet official, but has been agreed to by both teams. The Phillies are also sending $2 million to the Dodgers in the trade.

Utley was drafted by the Phillies in the first round of the 2000 draft and signed on July 29th of that year. He rocketed up the minor league system, skipping AA Reading altogether, and debuted with the big club in 2003. His first major league hit, on April 24th of that year, was a grand slam. Read more »

Minions Have Taken Over the Wildwood Boardwalk

Every kind of minion imaginable is on the Wildwood boardwalk. Even naked minions.

Every kind of minion imaginable is on the Wildwood boardwalk. Even naked minions.

When you’re the guy who writes an annual column about t-shirts on the Wildwood boardwalk, your friends send you a lot of texts about the latest t-shirt trends when they go down the shore. (I get a lot of weird texts from my friends.)

The past month, I’ve been getting the same texts from friends: Minions. There are minions all over the boardwalk.

I recently went down to Wildwood to investigate, and my friends’ texts were right: Every type of minion imaginable is on the Wildwood boardwalk. Regular minions. Minions with pithy inspirational sayings next to them. Ninja Turtle minions. Batman minions. Heath Ledger Joker minions. Superman minions. Spider-man minions. Even Green Lantern minions. Who likes Green Lantern? And, yes, there are naked minions.

Earlier this summer, I wrote about how minions are making Comcast millions. (The company owns Universal.) The spin-off movie in the Despicable Me franchise, Minions, has made more than $962 million worldwide since its release on July 10th. That’s almost a billion dollars in a little over a month! No wonder minions are all over the boardwalk. Too bad for t-shirt vendors another Universal/Comcast hit, Jurassic Park, isn’t so easily meme-able.

Let’s check out a few more late bloomers on the boardwalk this summer. Read more »

Zombie Fans to Invade Philly Area Same Weekend as Pope

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By now you’ve heard a lot about Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia, the culmination of the 2015 World Meeting of Families Catholic conference. You’ve heard more than you probably ever wanted to hear about it, and you’re going to keep hearing more and more about it in the coming six weeks.

There’s another event coming that weekend, one you might not have heard about. The same two days Pope Francis will be in Philadelphia disrupting traffic and preaching to millions, Walker Stalker Con is being held at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks. Yes, a zombie convention is coming to the area the same weekend as the Pope. Read more »

There’s a Free Stevie Wonder Concert at Dilworth Park Today

Stevie Wonder will play a surprise pop-up concert at Dilworth Park today, sources confirmed to Philadelphia magazine. Live Nation hinted at the free concert yesterday. The news was apparently broken by Ike Richman of Comcast Spectacor (via Cindy Webster, who does marketing for a bunch of Philly radio stations).

The show is scheduled for 3 p.m.

This morning at 10 a.m., Wonder plays the D.C. Armory in Washington across from RFK Stadium. He is expected to play two to three songs there, then take questions. The Philadelphia show will probably be the same format. Read more »

The Truth About the Rise and Fall of Donald Trump’s Atlantic City Empire

Trump Plaza, September 2014

Trump Plaza in its last month of operation. (Photo | Dan McQuade)

It’s an April Sunday in Atlantic City in 1989. Though it’s early spring, the boardwalk is packed outside Trump Plaza and the convention hall next door. The setting: WrestleMania V, the fifth in a series of professional wrestling super-shows. After a year of buildup, Hulk Hogan will attempt to win back the World Wrestling Federation championship from his former friend and tag-team partner, “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

But that’ll be in a few hours. Right now Ted DiBiase, aka “The Million Dollar Man,” is about to wrestle Brutus Beefcake in an early undercard matchup. DiBiase is an ostentatious character who flouts his wealth. He shoves $100 bills down the throats of defeated opponents and just over a year ago he actually bought the WWF championship after cheating Hogan out of the belt; when that was nullified, he created his own “Million Dollar Belt” with diamond-encrusted dollar signs on the front. Read more »

Man Admits Flushing Fake Poker Chips Down Atlantic City Casino Toilet

Borgata - Toilet - Harrah's

From left: The Borgata, a toilet, Harrah’s Atlantic City

A North Carolina man will be sentenced to five years in prison for using counterfeit chips in an Atlantic City poker tournament. Christian Lusardi, who had already been sentenced earlier this year to five years for pirating DVDs, pleaded guilty and accepted the sentence as part of a deal.

Lusardi admitted to cheating in the 2014 Borgata Winter Open Big Stack no-limit hold ’em event. He won $6,814 in the tournament, but suspected he’d been caught with the counterfeit chips. So he did the only logical thing: He flushed the counterfeit chips down the toilet at his room at nearby Harrah’s. Read more »

Pope’s Visit Will Disrupt NJ Transit, Too

NJ Transit RiverLine

Photo of the RiverLine by Adam E. Moreira via Wikimedia Commons used under a Creative Commons license

NJ Transit announced today it would not operate regular service in the Philadelphia area on either day of Pope Francis’ visit to the city in September. All bus lines headed toward Philadelphia from Camden will be cancelled when the Ben Franklin Bridge closes. The Atlantic City Line and the Trenton-Camden RiverLine will operate with special schedules, and are expected to be at maximum capacity.

Special tickets for papal pilgrims heading into the city on September 26th and 27th will go on sale at noon on Saturday.

“NJ TRANSIT will accommodate as many passengers as its system safely allows,” NJ Transit executive director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim said in a release. “Unfortunately, these safety and capacity limitations mean only a fraction of the anticipated passenger demand can be met. We have put forth a transportation plan that will get as many people as possible, as close as possible to Philadelphia, all with an eye on safety.” Read more »

Watch: Union Win U.S. Open Cup Semifinal

Soccer is a weird sport. Example one: The worst team in the league gets to play for a championship.

This isn’t like your rec basketball league, where everyone makes the playoffs — soccer leagues have concurrent knockout cup competitions that run alongside the regular season. And after last night’s victory over the Chicago Fire, the Philadelphia Union are in the finals of the U.S. Open Cup.

The Union are actually next to last in the Eastern Conference, and they do have the fewest points per game in the league. No matter. Sebastien Le Toux’s goal in the 74th minute was all the Union needed to win their semifinal matchup. The Fire had just two shots on goal all game. The team hosts Sporting Kansas City in the final on September 30th. Read more »

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