SAINTS FAN HARRY CON­NICK JR. HEADS BACK TO TV

this fall, harry con­nick jr. re­turns to tv in a role he’s been dream­ing about for two decades.

Albuquerque Journal - Parade - - FRONT PAGE - by lam­beth hochwald cover and open­ing pho­tog­ra­phy by palma kolan­sky

H arry Con­nick Jr. is a ladies’ man— in the best ways pos­si­ble. You hear it when this Tony nom­i­nee and Grammy and Emmy award win­ner talks about his wife, Jill Goodacre, his three daugh­ters, Ge­or­gia, Sarah Kate and Char­lotte, and his sis­ter, Suzanna, an in­ternist in Vir­ginia. And you hear it when he talks about his mom, Anita, who worked as a judge in his home­town of New Or­leans and died of can­cer when Con­nick was just 13.

“My mom’s death changed the course of my whole life,” says Con­nick, 48. “It’s the ul­ti­mate chal­lenge: You’re faced with a sit­u­a­tion there’s no an­swer to and no rea­son for, and what are you sup­posed to do? You have to fig­ure out a way to go through it and get through it.”

And get through it he has. Widely con­sid­ered one of

Amer­i­can Idol’s most beloved judges, ap­pear­ing on sea­sons 13 through 15, Con­nick is now get­ting ready for the de­but of Harry, his day­time va­ri­ety show, which pre­mieres Sept. 12 on Fox.

mr. party plan­ner

While Con­nick had been ap­proached about do­ing TV be­fore, the tim­ing has never been right, un­til now. He has part­nered with Justin and Eric Stan­gel, for­mer ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers of Late Show With David Let­ter­man, spend­ing months prim­ing what he en­vi­sions as an hour­long es­cape for view­ers, with un­scripted com­edy and free-form mu­si­cal mo­ments pro­vided by his band. “We’re go­ing to jam-pack each and ev­ery show,” he says. “It’s go­ing to be a real party.

“Mindy Kal­ing was on the pi­lot and talked about singing a Dis­ney song while au­di­tion­ing for a Broad­way show,” he says. “Next thing you know, I ac­com­pa­nied her as she sang it.”

He plans to cel­e­brate real peo­ple as well. A seg­ment called “Harry’s Lead­ing Ladies” might fea­ture a woman who has taught sec­ond grade for 10 years or a lit­tle girl who has sold loads of Girl Scout cook­ies. In an­other seg­ment, called “I Got This,” Con­nick swaps lives with a sin­gle mom or a woman work­ing two jobs, send­ing her out for the day while he cleans the house, makes a birth­day cake, does laun­dry or takes care of what­ever else needs to be done.

“We’re fea­tur­ing so many good peo­ple in this world,” he says. “They’re dig­ni­fied, they care deeply for their fam­i­lies and have deep work ethics,” he says. “It’s ful­fill­ing for me to be around peo­ple like that.”

king of the smoker

When he’s not prep­ping

Harry seg­ments or tour­ing, Con­nick is tend­ing to his rig—a pro­fes­sional smokeron-wheels that fea­tures, of course, a Saints logo.

Con­nick may live in Con­necti­cut, but his Big Easy ap­proach to tail­gat­ing is all New Or­leans. In fact, he says he got his smok­ing “chops” from his un­cle, who used what Con­nick de­scribes as a wooden roast­ing box with a heat source on top.

“He’d put turkey or what­ever meat in there and the box would get very hot,” he says. “That’s a very, very slow way of cook­ing, but I would watch him do­ing that and that’s how I learned how to slow-cook pork shoul­der and brisket. I like throw­ing burg­ers on the grill, but smok­ing is what I love the most.”

When Con­nick tail­gates, he starts up his smoker in the morn­ing—he keeps his rubs sim­ple, top­ping his meat with salt, pep­per and “maybe a tiny bit of cayenne pep­per and pa­prika”—and, eight hours later, his smoked meat is ready. Ac­com­pa­ni­ments in­clude home­made red beans and rice, which, he’s quick to say, doesn’t taste as good as it does back home in New Or­leans.

“It’s hard to find food that tastes the same way,” he says. “The gen­eral con­sen­sus is that there’s prob­a­bly some­thing about the lo­cal wa­ter that con­trib­utes to the fla­vor.”

To sat­isfy his crav­ings for jam­bal­aya or ba­nanas Foster (a dessert fave), Con­nick trav­els to New Or­leans as of­ten as he can. It’s the place, af­ter all, where he grew up and

Harry Con­nick Jr. wears a vin­tage New Or­leans T-shirt while en­gaged in his fa­vorite tail­gat­ing ac­tiv­ity—tend­ing to his smoker, which he gets go­ing game-day morn­ing.

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