Inqlings: Now, America's got . . . Mummers?

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Members of the South Philly Vikings surround Saverio Garofalo, in his New Year's Day 2007 Alien Encounter costume. The Vikings will take their show on the road, performing on NBC's "America's Got Talent."

July 15 looked more like Dec. 31 at the South Philly clubhouse of the South Philly Vikings Fancy Brigade, as the Mummers and friends put finishing touches on 29 uniforms.

The Vikings, who won their division Jan. 1, are bound for Hollywood on NBC's America's Got Talent, and their costumes and props headed west Friday.

Is America ready for Mummers?

Were these Mummers ready for national TV?

No. The Vikings' Pete D'Amato says they initially turned down the producers, who had caught a video of their performance and offered an audition.

Like most things Mummer, it came down to money. The Vikings knew they could use their New Year's costumes once. After that, "it's up to $1,200 a suit," says D'Amato, who works for Traffic Court.

But after getting a break from Delbuono Costumes, they relented.

"We felt we could really help the Mummers," D'Amato said. "The city is broke. They can't help the parade. We figured if we get on TV once or twice, we could draw attention" to parade funding.

After a 90-second routine in New York, the Vikings were sent this month to the next round in Las Vegas, where they got an immediate pass to Hollywood. (Fishtown comic Doogie Horner also is among the 48 semifinalists.)

"Our main goal is to help the city, but now that we're in it, we want to win," said the Vikings' Vince Buono, who owns ICC Trucking, with a grin.

The Vikings will appear on the show July 27, with results shown the next night.

Media activity

G-N Kang of Wired 96.5's Chio in the Morning show was shown the door last week as her contract was winding down. October would have been her fourth anniversary at Wired and her eighth in radio. "I'm handling this pretty well," Kang, 28, said. "I always look at the bright side. I have to admit I was shocked, because we'd been getting bonuses for our ratings." She said that she was not sure what her next move would be, but that she would be open to TV. Show host Chio is leading a talent search that on paper is leaning female but may be pointing toward one Diego Ramos, his on-air foil at his old station, Q102. Ramos got out of the radio business in early 2009 and now owns a bar in the city. Neither man returned my messages, but Chio is supposed to address matters on the air Monday.

Friday Night Lights, the Texas-set football-themed NBC series based on the book by Chestnut Hill's Buzz Bissinger, blitzes into town. It will spend Tuesday at Temple University and Frankford High to shoot part of the series finale with stars Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton.

Time ripe for Apple store

Though corporate is tight-lipped, Philly's first Apple store, at 1607 Walnut St., is poised to open Friday afternoon, according to sources. Staff is being trained off-site.

Reality TV

Bucks County-bred Fishtown resident Kristen Bitting, 24, who's worked and managed at Head Start shoes at 17th and Sansom Streets for four years, is a house guest on Season 12 of CBS's Big Brother. "Hard worker" is how owner Cheryl Patti describes her.

American Idol will return for Season 10, and auditions started this weekend in Nashville. Closest site to Philly is the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Aug. 3. Registration begins at 7 a.m. Aug. 1; details at www.americanidol.com

The circuit

Marty at the party: Ernest Borgnine, 93; his beauty-pitchwoman wife, Tova; and two friends dropped into Chickie's & Pete's in South Philly Wednesday night - smack into the final auditions for the Sixers Dancers. Borgnine good-naturedly put on a "Got Crabs?" shirt at the sports bar. The couple, who had been sightseeing, have a house in the West Chester area, as she is a frequent guest on QVC. As for the dancers, their first team appearance will be at the Sixers Beach Bash at Jack's Place in Avalon, N.J., from 3 to 6 p.m. July 31.

Penn president Amy Gutmann, proudly wearing a juror sticker, was spotted doing her civic duty at the Criminal Justice Center on Wednesday.

The Philadelphia Film Society and WMGK (102.9) imported Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen and bassist Tom Petersson to the Piazza at Schmidts in Northern Liberties to sign autographs before a screening Thursday of the band's flick, Live at Budokan. Cheap Trick played the Mann Center on Friday.

Eagles legend Ron Jaworski will hit the first serve at the Philadelphia Freedoms World TeamTennis match at the Pavilion at Villanova University at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The first 50 men to attend will receive an autographed photo of Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker, who's married to the Freedoms' Andy Roddick.


Contact columnist Michael Klein at mklein@phillynews.com. Follow his blog at http://go.philly.com/insider and on Twitter @phillyinsider.