EDGE People


On October 18, 2015, Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael in Springfield & Rachel Coalition will be hosting An Evening With Emmy Award Winner Mariska Hargitay. Hargitay will answer questions about her role on Law & Order SVU and her Joyful Heart Foundation whose mission is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. For additional information or to purchase tickets, please call (973) 376-0539 or visit www.jfsmetrowest.org.






Celebrating Trinitas’ Platinum Level sponsorship of the recent Westfield 5K & Pizza Extravaganza are (left to right): Jama Bowman, EDGE Design Director; Sherry Cronin, Executive Director/Downtown Westfield Corporation; Rob Rubilla, EDGE Senior Media Marketing Specialist; Andy Skibitsky, Mayor of Westfield; Doug Harris, EDGE Publisher/VP Marketing for Trinitas, and Jeff Shanes, EDGE Associate Publisher/VP Business Development.



The American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association named Fayez Shamoon, MD, medical director of Cardiovascular Services, as their Physician of the Year. The Award recognizes a physician who has made a tremendous difference in the lives of her/his patients, the community and to the education, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of cardiovascular disease.






From the beat of the streets to the rhythm of rhyme, Trinitas Auxilian Allan “Al” Schuhmann, a former investigator for the Union County Medical Examiner’s Office and a retired sergeant in the Prosecutor’s Office, has taken pen to paper,  or most recently, keyboard to monitor, to publish a book of original poetry.  Life is a Poem contains 25 poems that Al has written in the last five years.







Nancy Lessner and Irv Brechner, developers of the Eat Right Today!Program (at right), shared in the ribbon-cutting honors at the Trinitas Pediatric Health Center in Elizabeth with Maribeth Santillo, Senior Director of Emergency and Ambulatory Services, and Teresa Andrews, the Center’s Clinical Coordinator (at left). The program, the first of its kind in the U.S., uses a “show and know” approach to empower, educate and motivate kids and their parents to eat healthy as a means of preventing future generations from developing obesity-related illnesses.




Some opportunities are educational, others rewarding, and still others affirming. When opportunities are all three, that’s more than serendipity. Just ask Jonathan Tam of Fanwood, participant in the Trinitas Medical Mentoring program. For most of his life, he has dreamt of being a doctor. “Having the ability to shadow actual doctors and residents helped give me a feeling of how life as a doctor would be like for me in the future. I also was able to see how a hospital works and how healthcare is provided in real time.” This opportunity led Jonathan to a unique volunteer experience in his senior year in the Intensive Care Unit, which “would not have been possible without Medical Mentoring.” As an incoming college freshman, Jonathan continues to shadow. He plans to continue to volunteer and work at Trinitas throughout college, which will be “tremendously valuable as I prepare for applying to medical school. I am extremely thankful for this chance to solidify my dream of pursuing a career as a medical professional.”





At the Annual Volunteer Luncheon, Jackie Perger, out-going President of the Trinitas Regional Medical Center Auxiliary, presented Gary S. Horan, President and CEO, with the Auxiliary’s 2015 donation. Throughout the year, revenues from Auxiliary fundraisers and vendor sales make it possible for the organization to donate those revenues to Trinitas.


The Tri-County Radio Association, Inc., (TCRA) based in Union, hosted a 24-hour “Field Day 2015” in June at Watchung Reservation. Ham radio operators conducted demonstrations and promoted membership in TCRA. The Trinitas Emergency Manage-ment team participated and provided a 14’ X 24’ enclosed shelter, air-conditioning units, generators, and lighting.


Todd Bowles

Courtesy of the New York Jets

When Todd Bowles was throwing passes to his buddies in pick-up football games in Elizabeth, the Meadowlands and the NFL seemed light-years away. The actual distance is only 15 miles, of course. However, to get to East Rutherford as the newly minted head coach of the Jets, Bowles detoured through Philadelphia, Washington, San Francisco, Washington again, Louisiana, Green Bay, Atlanta, New Jersey (he was the Jets’ secondary coach for a year in 2000), Cleveland, Dallas, Miami (where he was interim coach for three games in 2011), Philadelphia again, and Arizona. Along the way he earned a reputation for building creative and unpredictable defenses. Zack Burgess connected with Coach Bowles at the beginning of training camp, and talked about the various stops on the decades-long journey that ultimately brought him home.

EDGE: What attracted you to football as a kid?

TB: It’s all about the camaraderie. Growing up, you play with all of your friends. It’s just something that you get used to doing, just playing outside.

When I was growing up it was just a part of everyday life. You played football and you had fun. When it was time to go out for the teams, you didn’t really have too much pressure, because you were already playing every day with the guys that were going to be on your team. Every weekend we played, and you kind of crafted your skill that way.

EDGE: You were the quarterback.

TB: Yes, I was the streetball quarterback.

EDGE: Who were your football mentors and heroes growing up in Elizabeth?

TB: I didn’t have a true mentor as far as going to camps and everything. You kind of did everything on your own. We grew up playing a lot of street football. It was about 20, 30 kids that I grew up with. You looked up to the guys that were one, two, three years older than you. My brothers, they both were older than me. Just watching what they did and hanging out with them taught me a lot about the game.

EDGE: Don Somma coached you at Elizabeth High School.

TB: He did a heck of a job. We were just developing the team and the program when I was there. The year after I left, they went all the way and won the states. I played tailback, tight end, wide receiver, corner, safety—I don’t think I ever came off the field. We had some good athletes on our team.

EDGE: You played under Bruce Arians at Temple. Was he pretty much the same guy then as he was when you were on his NFL coaching staff with the Arizona Cardinals?

TB: He was a lot more fiery at Temple. He was a young coach, just 30 years old when he got the job. But for the most part, he was always the same guy. He taught boys how to be men. You could always trust him.

EDGE: How good was the Owls defense your junior year? The team was in every game that season.

TB: Defensively, we were pretty good the whole time I was there. We had some very good defensive players in Anthony Young and Kevin Ross. We just couldn’t get over the hump. We played tough schedules back then. It seemed as if almost everyone we played was in the Top 25. There was some good competition back then. We fought pretty hard.

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EDGE: You joined the Washington Redskins in 1986 and became a starter in your second year—the same year that team won the Super Bowl. At what point in the 1987 season did you start thinking, Hey, this is a championship-caliber team?

TB: The Redskins were good when I got there. They had gone to the championship game the year before against the Giants. All season, we talked about who we might be playing in the playoffs. That was our mentality going in with Coach [Joe] Gibbs. Everybody practiced and played that way. You carried your own weight whether we won 43-0 or not. If you didn’t play well, you weren’t going to be playing that next week.

EDGE: You won a lot of tough, close games that season right through the playoffs, then boom you destroy the Broncos in the Super Bowl. What goes through your head as a young player when you are part of a game like that?

TB: It’s something that you can’t even describe. When you get into those types of situations as a young player—going to the Super Bowl—everything moves so fast. It’s one of the happiest moments of your life. But you don’t realize it until five, ten years after it’s gone. You’re so busy having fun, enjoying the moment, that you don’t realize that you’re in it. It was one of the best things to happen to me.

EDGE: What influenced your decision to go into coaching? What did you feel you could teach others?

TB: When I first retired, Emmitt Thomas, who is now in Kansas City and was my defensive backs coach when I played, told me if I wanted to be a good coach that I should get away from the game for at least two years. Otherwise, I would be teaching guys the same way as if I played, and I would be very disappointed. In other words, I would be teaching more from a player’s standpoint rather than a coaching standpoint. So I got out of the game for two years. When I jumped back in, I wanted to learn it from the ground up. So I went into scouting first, with the Green Bay Packers. Then I went to college to see if I liked coaching. And I did. I enjoyed teaching young guys, the X’s and O’s part of it, and that really got me heavy into coaching.

EDGE: Which coaches really opened your eyes to what a head coach in the NFL had to do to be successful?

TB: It was a little bit of everybody. I think Doug Williams started it. Coaching with him in college at Morehouse and then at Grambling—seeing the things he went through and dealt with, and seeing how he treated people—that started me off right. Obviously, Coach Gibbs, playing in that system for him for years and seeing how he conducted things. He taught you how to be a professional. And Coach [Bill] Parcells really taught me how to see the whole game from an organizational standpoint and from a coaching standpoint. Coach Arians, as a player in college and later coaching with him in Cleveland and Arizona, I saw how he respected people and got the most out of his players, especially the second- and third-level players. Coach [Andy] Reid, the year I was in Philly with the Eagles, I probably learned more from a humility standpoint—with the passing of his son and all the things that were going on there—just seeing the difficult things he went through and never letting it affect his coaching. He stood in the face of adversity and he was the same guy every day. That taught me a lot. Wade Phillips for a year in Dallas, he taught me how to have fun with the game, be yourself and just go with the flow. I had a whole bunch of guys who have affected how I look at the game. I haven’t even named them all.

Courtesy of the New York Jets

EDGE: In what ways do NFL teams function as families?

TB: You have to learn to work together. You have to sacrifice and put all your egos to the side. You’re going to be in a building 8 to 16 hours a day, every day, with all these people—especially coaches, who work year ’round. For players it’s half the year. So you get to know these guys on a personal level and what makes them tick. They see what makes you tick. You kind of figure out what buttons to push; they figure out what they can and can’t do with you. There are a lot of personal relationships that go on behind the scenes that everybody doesn’t see. And you put out fires just like any other family. There are spats here and there, but for the most part we’re around each other so much, we kind of get a good feel for each other. And whether you like it or not, you’re going to be a part of a family. You have your bad people and good people—and everything in between. But at the end of the day, we have to be on one working relationship.

EDGE: What are some of the do’s and don’t’s for an NFL coach taking over a new team?

TB: Don’t try to do more than you can. Keep it about football and don’t let the outside stuff bother you.

EDGE: When we watch the Jets this year, what should we be looking for that tells us This is a Todd Bowles team?

TB: Hopefully, as this thing develops, we want to be a smart, tough team. We want to be very physical and we want to be very good at handling game situations.

EDGE: How great is it to be home again—more pressure, or more relaxed?

TB: It’s more relaxed. As a kid growing up, you don’t see the outside world. You don’t travel very much being from Elizabeth. But growing up over the years and coming back to things you haven’t seen in a long time, that’s great. It’s great to be back.

Editor’s Note: As the NFL season gets underway, Zack Burgess is completing his most ambitious sports project to date: a series of 32 books for young readers, one on each pro football team. His work for EDGE has included interviews with a wide range of non-sports celebrities, including Jaclyn Smith, Gloria Gaynor, Danica McKellar, and Beth Ostrosky Stern—all available on edgemagonline.com. More of Zack’s sports interviews can be found at zackburgess.com.


Mayim Bialik

Photo by James Banasiak for EDGE Magazine

One of the joys of acting is the chance to create a truly indelible character. Realistically speaking, few performers are afforded this opportunity during their careers; even fewer are able to actually pull it off. Mayim Bialik is two-for-two. As a teenager in the early 1990s, she played the title role on the hit NBC series Blossom. In the ensuing decade-and-a-half, she focused on her education (she has a PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA) and started a family—but kept her hand in the acting game. In 2010, Mayim played an unnamed character in the final episode of Season 3 of The Big Bang Theory. During hiatus, the show’s producers realized they had stumbled upon a “love interest” for quirky theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper. In Season 4, Mayim’s character got a name (Amy Farrah Fowler) and a job (neuroscientist!), and brought new depth and dimension to an already sparkling ensemble cast. Gerry Strauss caught up with her over the summer as she wrapped up Season 9 of the series.

EDGE: Unlike many child actors, you had a relatively normal childhood.

MB: Yes, I had a normal elementary school kind of life. I was active in school plays. I felt comfortable in drama class when we had to do plays and stuff, but I was not a hammy kid. I wasn’t an exceptionally outgoing or theatrical kid. When I would meet other child actors they were very theatrical and always kind of “on.” That wasn’t me at all. Actually, I’m considered a late bloomer for a child actor because I started acting when I was almost in junior high school.  Even though I was in Beaches when I was 12—and that came out when I was 13—I had just started acting about a year before that. Most child actors have been acting since they were toddlers. That’s a very different kind of personality. It’s a different kind of structure, as far as how you’re raised and the expectations of you.

EDGE: Did that help you avoid some of the pitfalls other young actors often experience?

MB: I do think part of it is that I wasn’t in the industry for my formative years. I had a different kind of perspective on it. As I said, when people start acting and they’re always given expectations and given positive reinforcement for being good—and negative reinforcement for not obeying direction—I think that sets up a complicated system. For me, my parents are first-generation American, so I come from a pretty strict immigrant mentality. My parents tried to still have me do chores and homework and all the things that kids do. I wasn’t emancipated—a lot of teenagers at 15 get to be considered legal adults if they’re in the acting world—my parents didn’t do that. Also, I wasn’t really a party person, so I wasn’t around drugs and alcohol. I think I was also really lucky that on the Blossom set I was 14 to 19 years old, and I never saw anyone drinking or doing drugs. They had a very clean set, and I think that’s really important.

EDGE: At what point did you start thinking about acting as a career path?

CBS/Warner Bros. Television

MB: I didn’t think of having a career. I knew that I liked acting in school plays, and I thought, “Oh, I should be an actress—kids do commercials and stuff like that.”  I had no idea that I would have my own television show by the time I was 14. None of that was part of any grand plan at all. There are so many talented people in this industry, the chances of succeeding are so rare. I didn’t see any of that. It really just happened very quickly. Once I got Beaches, I felt like everything kind of free-fell, and all of a sudden I went from just being this kid who liked acting to a person with her own TV show.

EDGE: In that year before Beaches, you made your screen debut in the horror movie Pumpkinhead.

MB: Yeah, I had five lines. When you start acting, you try out for any audition. It was a very small part, because you don’t get big parts when you first start. I didn’t have the typical path to success that most child actors do in commercials and things because, in 1986, when I started, there was a notion that people on television needed to look what they called “All-American.” I didn’t look All-American. I’ve always had prominent features and I’ve always looked ethnic, so I ended up doing a lot of character roles on shows like Webster and Facts of Life. That’s why there are things like Pumpkinhead on my résumé, because as a young character actress you do quirky things instead of generic commercials.

EDGE: In Beaches you played Bette Midler as a girl. Did you realize what a big deal that was?

MB: Not really. My parents had always said I look like Bette Midler and Barbara Streisand, so I knew who Bette was. I didn’t really think I looked like her. I thought I looked like myself with a red wig (laughs). I had seen some of her movies, but I didn’t really grasp the full notion that I’d be on a big screen, or that people would be considering the film for awards and things like that. I think I’ve only maybe seen it all the way through once, at the premiere (laughs). It’s just not my kind of movie.

EDGE: Did you have to deal with the celebrity crush young TV stars do today?

MB: It felt very intense because I was a teenager and those are the hardest years of your life—so to live them publicly is very hard. But no, it wasn’t fame like people think of fame now. Our show was not a Top 10 show. Our show was not even a Top 20 show. We didn’t get that much attention, not like people do now. We also did that show at a time when there was no Internet, so the notion of celebrity as something fascinating, that just literally didn’t exist. Of course, we got recognized everywhere we went. If you go places where young people are, they’re going to recognize you. But no, it wasn’t the same as being on The Big Bang Theory. There was no notion of anyone caring what our personal lives were like. It just wasn’t like that then.

EDGE: After the series, you moved on—to school, to marriage, to motherhood and other endeavors away from the limelight. Did you lose your passion for acting?

MB: I made a conscious decision to leave acting because I wanted to pursue a degree in neuroscience. I had other interests, as everyone tends to, and I think women in particular should be encouraged to try lots of different things—especially with the under-representation of women in science. It just felt like an amazing opportunity. I took 12 years off, and I also had two children, so that became my main job in life. I’m very happy to return to acting and to be acting again, but my heart is still as a mom. That’s how I think of myself primarily, as a mom with two kids. They’re now seven and nine and a half, and I still do a lot of work in advocacy for STEM [Science Technology Engineering & Math] and things like that. I wasn’t planning on being a regular on a TV show again. But I’m very grateful that I’m employed now as an actor.

EDGE: The character that brought you back in the public eye was Amy Farrah Fowler, who would become a very unique counterpart to Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. How did you get that role?

MB: I was called to audition for this part along with hundreds of other actresses in Hollywood who were trying to get work. I didn’t get any special offers. I went and auditioned with a bunch of other women. The initial part was in the finale of Season 3 and it was maybe six lines. The character didn’t have a name, she didn’t have a career or a job—we didn’t really know anything about her—so I was just brought on to do these few lines. They didn’t even know if this character would continue.

EDGE: In Season 4, Amy starts as a female version of Sheldon. Over time, we’ve learned that she has a very emotional, even somewhat bawdy side to her. Have you had any reservations about some of the outrageous things that have come out of Amy’s mouth?

MB: Not really. As an actor, you have to sort of do whatever’s on the page. There are things I’m not great at as an actor, and those are things that our director, Mark Cendrowski, gets to work out with us. Acting drunk was not easy for me, but we made it through that. A lot of the things that Jim [Parsons] and I have where Amy and Sheldon are more intimate, I don’t want to say that those are difficult or out of my comfort zone, but those are new things for us as actors together. There are always new things to learn, and I guess that’s the fun thing about having a great job like this one. Our writers are constantly challenging us, and I’m fortunate to be working with amazing actors who are ready to take on that challenge.

EDGE: Do you have any input in the fleshing-out of the Amy–Sheldon relationship?

Photo by James Banasiak for EDGE Magazine

MB: None. As actors, our job is to take a script and make it right, make it funny in how it performs. Every single thing that you see that you love is an expression of our writers. There’s a little bit of all of our characters in each of our writers, and that’s what you’re seeing. They’re really, really talented people, and they seem to me a lot more like a group of intellectuals or academics rather than a group of comedy writers. They’re just a really smart, interesting group of people and they’ve produced all of these characters.

EDGE: Big Bang has impacted popular culture in some interesting ways. It has shown science and scientists in a very positive and relatable light. It has also validated “nerd culture” for lack of a better term. What else do you feel the show has accomplished?

MB: Well, I think our show demonstrates that there’s someone for everyone. We have these characters who—a lot of people would acknowledge—are the kind of people that get teased and left out of things. We are showing a group of characters that all have jobs and they have romantic relationships and they have social lives, and no one’s trying to medicate them or change them. Of course, they’re not always happy with the way the others act, but it’s not a show about changing people who are different. It’s about living with people who are different. And I think that’s really special. I also think the Amy and Sheldon relationship might be the longest running non-sexual intimate relationship we’ve seen on television. I think that’s really sweet. It shows a lot of patience and it shows a lot of love. Obviously, last season’s finale shows that Amy’s a little bit fed up and needing to take some time to think. But for the most part, it’s a very interesting relationship we’ve shown.

EDGE: Your audience knows you so well from sitcoms, which makes me wonder: Do you think of yourself as a comedic performer who acts, or as an actor who happens to do comedy?

MB: Gosh, that’s a hard question. I guess I would prefer the more general term “actor.” But obviously, I’m known for being a comedian. But when I think of “comedian,” I think of people like [Big Bang co-star] Melissa Rauch, who’s an amazing comedian. She’s a stand-up, and when she goes on a talk show she can tell stories and anecdotes and things like that. I don’t think of myself as a comedian like that, but I guess I’m an actor known for comedy. How’s that?

EDGE: A lot of doors are open to you now. What type of work would you like to do going forward?

MB: There are a lot of things I haven’t done. I haven’t really done movies as an adult. I haven’t really done drama as an adult. As I said, I also do a lot of advocacy for science and women in science, so that’s something I might explore. So yeah, there’s a lot left to do.

Editor’s Note: Gerry Strauss has interviewed a number of television stars for EDGE in the past two years, including Lisa Kudrow and New Jerseyans Wendy Williams, Laura Prepon and Jason Biggs.

Ray Liotta

How did growing up in Union shape you?

I’ve thought about this, growing up in the tri-state area. I was in, like, the legitimate suburbs. Union was a town of 50,000 and had small-town suburban dynamics. I know a lot of people don’t think of New Jersey like that. But then, we were also 45 minutes outside of the city. So all of the news we got was New York City news. We didn’t have “local stations.” We heard everything that was going on in New York. I don’t want to say that it was more sophisticated, but you “got” what was going on in New York. That had an influence.

How much time did you spend in the city?

A lot of kids use to go in. I didn’t. New York scared me. This was the ’60s and ’70s. I remember going to Port Authority. It was disgusting. Forty-second Street was really gritty, dirty, with all the porno places. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. But I do think by growing up so close to New York, with a suburban vibe, it gives you a little bit of everything.

Were you a Jersey Shore guy in the summer?

Oh, yeah! I started out as soon as I graduated from college. When I got on the soap opera [Another World], my friend Gene and I got a house. Yeah, we were in Belmar and Point Pleasant. We had another one across the street from that guy who used to own the Giants, Timmy Mara. We went to Long Beach Island a lot. So yeah, we used to go there every summer.

What is your most vivid memory of growing up in New Jersey?

Playing sports. Whatever the season was. All I did was play sports when I was younger. I lived on a dead end street. Now they call them cul-de-sacs, but they’re dead ends. We were always being active and playing sports there. We used to play softball, basketball, baseball all the time.

You’re shooting a series this summer and fall in New York with Jennifer Lopez. Any plans to visit the old neighborhood?

I’m here for six months, from May to November, so I’ll definitely go back.

Any go-to spots?

I’ll tell you one thing, I still go back to certain places for food. There’s a great place in Union called Peterson’s [now The Galloping Hill Inn]. It’s a hot dog place. And to this day, every time I go to visit Gene, we stop and get a hot dog. Whenever I’m in New York, I’ll go and visit my best friends since third grade, Gene and Jules. Gene lives right behind a school where we use to play soccer and basketball. The area still has a small-town feel to it, so it seems like the same place to me.

Editor’s Note: Ray Liotta narrated the eight-part AMC mini-series The Making of the Mob: New York, which premiered in June. He was also a member of the all-star cast of the 10-hour Texas Rising miniseries, which premiered in May on The History Channel. Robert Piper conducted this interview. For more of Ray’s memories, log onto edgemagonline.com.