Leave it to a New Yorker to steal the spotlight in a 60-minute television slot.
The year 2017 gave us Austin Rogers, the “Jeopardy” contestant who brought some much-needed personality to the Alex Trebek game show. But, 2018 was a whole different beast.
New talent competition shows, like NBC’s “Making It” with “Parks and Recreation” co-stars Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, and old favorites, like “Deal or No Deal,” entered the scene, providing many New Yorkers with their well-deserved “15 minutes of fame.”
When it came to these television shows and more, we tuned in — and stayed — for these New Yorkers.
Matthew Hashimoto, “Showtime at the Apollo”
Matthew Hashimoto stunned the audience when he appeared on “Showtime at the Apollo” on April 5, and not just for his rendition of Etta James’ 1960 hit “At Last.” Pairing his side passion with his career, the performer turned heads when he told the crowd at Harlem’s Apollo Theater he was a practicing periodontist who sings to put his patients with a fear of the dentist at ease.
The 35-year-old, originally from Hawaii, told us “these two worlds work great together.” When he appeared on the Fox television show alongside host Steve Harvey, he received a standing ovation from the crowd just 10 seconds into his performance. He returned to the series to appear on the finale talent show and stopped by Harvey’s self-titled talk show, where he revealed he’s not yet interested in leaving behind his dental career to sing professionally.
Hashimoto, who’s performed at venues like the shuttered Webster Hall and The Bitter End, is currently still working with the Manhattan-based Group Health Dental practice on 41st Street. His band, Rexford, is preparing to record original music. "We have 8 songs already out and are hoping to release a few next year," Hashimoto said.
Joe Verriotto, “Deal or No Deal”
When you’re Brooklyn proud, it’s not enough to just appear on television without boasting of your roots. Joe Verriotto didn’t win the grand prize when he appeared on the Dec. 5 season premiere of the rebooted game show “Deal or No Deal,” but he brought the CNBC network some welcomed buzz. Verriotto, 47, danced his way through the game onstage with host Howie Mandel while offering praises to his New York upbringing.
“I’m not gonna lie, I have a good time wherever I go,” the Dyker Heights native told us, admitting he had a feeling he’d easily command the stage. He previously appeared on reality TV on VH1’s “Money Hungry” in 2010. “My personality and my happiness and everything that comes with me personifies [Brooklyn]. I’m proud of where I grew up.”
Verriotto, who’s currently self-employed in New Jersey, took a deal from the banker for a $285,000 cash prize. Still awaiting his prize money, he said he hoped to help pay for his daughter’s wedding and expand his business opportunities following his television appearance.
Jeffery Rudell, “Making It”
You’ve probably seen East Village resident Jeffery Rudell’s designs even if you missed the debut season of NBC’s “Making It.” Before appearing on the crafting competition show, the paper engineer designed larger-than-life installations for New York City shop windows, including Tiffany’s and Macy’s.
He was eliminated from the series after its second round of cuts, but said the experience helped him expand his crafting abilities. “I’ll often look at a finished product and go, ‘How did I do that? Did that come out of me?’ and that’s a great feeling,” he said.
Rudell is still working as a paper artist in Manhattan, and is the author of his own paper design book, “Paper Blooms: 25 Extraordinary Flowers to make for Weddings, Celebrations & More.”
OneUp, “The Voice”
This Washington Heights couple turned heads on “The Voice” in October for more than just their vocal skills. Though they were eliminated from the series, they left a lasting impression after coming out onstage and speaking of LGBTQ pride. NYC couple Adam Bastien and Jerome Bell of OneUp sang publicly together for the very first time when they appeared on the series.
They were selected by producers who scouted them on Instagram because they promoted what OneUp calls a “different” love. “Our mission is to present a picture of a love that America hasn’t embraced yet — not only are we a gay couple, but we’re interracial,” said Bell, 36.
They still record songs and post videos to their personal Instagram pages, though they have not pursued any other large-scale performances.
Amalia Watty, “American Idol”
Amalia Watty was 28 when she appeared on “American Idol” last March. Her rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” during her audition made her an instant viewer favorite. Viewers also saw judge Lionel Richie take a particular linking to Watty’s performance as the two bonded over their Afros and genre of preference. Her sound gives off a Macy Gray vibe — or, as she put it, a Passenger-meets-Pharrell Williams-meets-Corinne Bailey Rae vibe.
“They all thought my tone was very different, very interesting,” she recalls. “I just tried to be me 100 percent and I got it.”
If her sound alone didn’t intrigue, her story did. Originally from the Caribbean, Watty moved to the city six years ago where she took up subway busking. She’s since performed at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village, The Blue Note near Washington Square Park and Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side. Though she was not selected as a final competitor on “American Idol” after her Hollywood audition, she is currently working on boosting her own original tracklist, which can be found on Spotify.
Pat Cusack, “Survivor”
It’s one thing to appear on a reality TV show and stun the audience with your New York charm. It’s another to literally define the scope of the season. New Yorker Pat Cusack was the inspiration behind the entire theme of last season’s “Survivor.” His underdog story and drive to provide for his family led producers to deem the season “David vs. Goliath.” Unfortunately, Cusack’s time on the island ended quickly due to an injury.
Micah Woods, “Real Country”
A stint on reality television often begins with an audition or several. But aspiring singer Micah Woods was hand-picked to appear on USA Network’s newest singing competition series, “Real Country.” Woods, 25, said he was scouted by country superstar Shania Twain. She spotted him performing at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in DuMBO last summer, where he’d been playing covers bi-weekly since 2017.
“I heard the story from her now,” Woods, a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident, said. “She said she’d gotten out of the elevator to go to sound check and ‘heard the voice of an angel.’ She said she was like, ‘I have to go see what this girl looks like.’ She turned the corner and saw me, a bearded black man.”
Woods made it to the final round of the debut series before being eliminated. He initially did not have plans to return to the 1 Hotel as a performer and instead hoped to release an upcoming EP and book other gigs around the city.