Dan Gross: Sherman Hemsley's movin' on up to Cherry Hill, he said with Sarcasm

Philly's own Sherman Hemsley has a new, possibly musical show.
Philly's own Sherman Hemsley has a new, possibly musical show. (Associated Press)
Posted: May 16, 2011

SOUTH PHILLY native Sherman Hemsley, better known to a generation of TV viewers as George Jefferson, says that he always wanted to return to this area with "something special." Hemsley says that his two shows Saturday at Sarcasm, inside the Cherry Hill Crowne Plaza, are "the shows I always wanted to do."

Despite that declaration, Hemsley, who was raised at 22nd and Christian, was fairly mum about exactly what kind of show he's performing when we asked if it was a comedy show, or musical, or sharing stories of his past.

"I can't explain it, bro," he said. "I'm just showing up. I don't want to get into it. I don't know."

Before leaving Philadelphia at age 29 to pursue acting in New York, Hemsley worked as a postal clerk at 30th Street Station, where, he said, he played a lot of pingpong.

"I was so good I used to go to other post offices to play," he told us the other day.

The actor appeared in shows at the Society Hill Playhouse, Theater 14, the Theater of Living Arts and the Valley Forge Music Fair before moving to New York, where he eventually landed the role of George Jefferson, first on "All in the Family," which then continued on "The Jeffersons."

Hemsley is grateful to fans of the show and everyone involved in it, but says that despite his success as George Jefferson and on "Amen," his theater roles, even back to his days playing fire in a school safety assembly and playing Santa Claus in elementary school, are just as important.

Hemsley, who said that he's written music his whole life, hinted at a musical aspect of his Sarcasm show, though didn't seem too confident in his singing, answering, "I don't know, bro," when asked if he was a good singer.

Appearing with Hemsley, who performs at 7:30 and 9:30, will be WIP radio personality and Sarcasm owner Steve Trevelise, along with Dr. Danny Broad and 97.5 the Fanatic's Phil from Mt. Airy. Tix are $25 plus a two-item minimum per person with a senior citizens discount of $20 online at sarcasmcomedy.com or by calling 856-382-6253.

Famous Amos' comeback

Cookie mogul Wally Amos was in town the other day meeting with QVC about a new line of cookies and cookie jars that he's launching in September. Amos, who sold his Famous Amos brand to Kellogg's years back, says that he "gave up on other people's cookies a long time ago. In 36 years of selling cookies, I still haven't found a cookie that pulls you away from the ones I make."

Although Amos is most known for his chocolate-chip cookie, it's his butterscotch-chip cookie that "will really sneak up on you and grab everything you have and make you cry. It's that good," he told us the other day.

Amos, who has worked to promote literacy since 1979, has a foundation called Read it Loud, and Sound of Philadelphia pioneer Kenny Gamble is on the board. Amos says that his foundation and Gamble's Universal Companies are partnering on a literary initiative coming in September, trying to get 5 million parents to commit to reading aloud to their children for 10 minutes per day.

Amos crashed with East Falls' Harry Jay Katz and Debra Renee Cruz, who are longtime friends of his marketing and licensing manager, Brian Hakan. Katz pal Judge James DeLeon stopped by to meet Amos and brought along Judge Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde, former boxer and daughter of Smokin' Joe Frazier.

?uestlove spins for charity

Roots leader ?uestlove will spin at the VIP after-party for the Great Chefs Event to benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand and the Vetri Foundation for Children on June 14 at Marc Vetri's Amis (412 S. 13th).

"Top Chef" host Tom Colicchio, former contestant Jennifer Carroll, of 10 Arts at the Ritz-Carlton, Jose Garces and new James Beard Award winner Mike Solomonov are among participating chefs at the Great Chefs Event, taking place at Urban Outfitters headquarters at the Navy Yard.

Tickets for GFE and the after-party are on sale now at vetrifoundation.org.

The main event runs from 6 to 9, with the ?uestlove after-party starting at 9.

Out and about

_ Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan and comedian Wanda Sykes were among those at Adele's sold-out Electric Factory concert Friday night. Sykes also caught the Union/Galaxy match Wednesday night at PPL Park, where Flyers Jeff Carter, Dan Carcillo, Ville Leino, Claude Giroux and Mike Richards were in the house. While his teammates watched the Union, Flyers winger Scott Hartnell and friends had dinner outside Zavino (13th & Sansom).

_ U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was out to support his wife, NBC 10's Renee Chenault Fattah, on Friday when she was honored by DeSean Jackson's 10 Foundation at the Water Works. Michael Vick, Brent Celek, Jason Avant and Brandon Graham were among Jackson's Eagles teammates who came out for the fundraiser for his pancreatic-cancer charity.

The night before, Jackson, Vick, Celek, LeSean McCoy, Todd Herremans, Eldra Bunkley and Victor Abiamiri were some of the Eagles celebrating Jeremy Maclin's birthday at Sumo Lounge (1224 Chestnut).

_ Charles Barkley, his wife, Maureen, and their daughter Christiana were at Chops (401 City Ave.) Saturday celebrating Christiana's graduation from Villanova.

Mariah's twins get Gudel's goods

Giving her old pal Kevin Frazier from "The Insider" a Nap Nanny last year was a wise move for Comcast Sports Net's Leslie Gudel. Frazier gave Nick Cannon a pair of her baby-sleeper products for the newborn twins of Cannon and wife Mariah Carey on the show last week. Frazier, whom Gudel met when he covered sports, told Cannon that he just had to "get you my absolutely favorite thing, it's called the Nap Nanny because you just lay the kids down and they catch a quick nap."

Two make directorial debut

Germantown Academy graduate Brian Klugman and Upper Dublin High grad Lee Sternthal will co-direct "The Words," which they also wrote. Fellow GA graduate Bradley Cooper plays a writer who steals the work of another writer, Jeremy Irons. Dennis Quaid is also in the film. Krugman and Sternthal recently had story credits on "Tron: Legacy," and Krugman has many acting credits including "Cloverfield" and "Can't Hardly Wait."

Visit PhillyGossip.com for Dan's latest updates or follow PhillyGossip on Twitter. Have a tip? Call 215-854-5963, or email grossd@phillynews.com. For recent columns, visit www.philly.com/DanGross.

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