Saturday, February 6, 2010

I do like this photo

Cyndi was as mad as a cut snake, but incredibly sweet and generous with her time (so much so, that I had to awkwardly force the interview to end before I reached geriatric status). Yes the woman could talk underwater with a mouth full of marbles.

But she is a true legend of the 80's, and was SO much fun to hang out with.

So the reason I have this pic is, back in the days of Sydney, I used to be a TV entertainment reporter. And not in the boofy-haired, bling-bling, gigantic-lips 'Entertainment Tonight' sense.

Just in the 'a heck of a lot of hard work and unglamorous days' sense. It's not nearly as fabulous as most people think - or what I thought when I started.

But, I still LOVED it and miss it like crazy. It's been more than tricky to accept that that part of my life is over (for now). I think I'm still in the denial phase. Since I have no idea who Andy Lau, Bibianna Yip
Cho-Yan or Bobo Chan is, this is not a job I can do here.

Oh yeah but I do know who Chow Yun-Fat is. Love that guy.

While most of my job in Sydney was spent sitting at a computer banging out entertainment reports (there is only so many ways one can tease poor Lindsay Lohan) there were lots of times where I got to interview famous people. And as much as it was cool to meet them, that part wore off very fast. The real joy lay in being able to sit there with an empty notepad and think "Hmm... so what do I want to ask Elton John"?

Apart from Elton (Hang on, I better pick up a broom to sweep up all the names I'm about to drop) I got to interview Angelina Jolie (a post all in itself), Sylvester Stallone, Pamela Anderson, Cameron Diaz, Matt Damon, Sascha Baron Cohen, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Ferrel, Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Keanu Reeves, Jessica Alba, Smokey Robinson, Paul Stanley, Chris Isaak, James Blunt and many, many more.

People have asked me a lot who my favourite was, but it's incredibly hard to say, and is never 'the most famous one'. My most enjoyable interviews were with the people I had been a personal fan of for years, such as Mick Hucknall (singer of Simply Red), Dolores O'Riordan (singer of the Cranberries, who incidentally tried to set me up with her 50-year-old guitarist - uh thanks) and David Knopfler, founding member of Dire Straits. But it's also because those people happened to have some of the best stories, and were the warmest to interview.

Red carpet interviews are a nightmare - literally two hours of standing in a frock in the freezing cold for two questions, and PR people with hand on shoulder ready to drag a star away should you drop 'that forbidden question' (which is usually the only question worth asking, mind you).

The best are sit-down interviews where you have at least 20-minutes to warm the celeb up and pick their brain about all things life and love. And if you are having a good day, they'll open up and start telling you all sorts of juicy stories.

The worst interviews are with stars who have recently become famous, either because they don't yet know how to answer a question in a succinct way without shakily umm'ing and ahh'ing the entire time (usually reserved for 'Idol' finalists and winners), or going off on some bizarre tangent about their
great-uncle who stubbed his toe once.

But even worse than that are the rock bands. Mostly because they are there primarily to 'sound cool' and impress each other (of which I have little patience for). This usually consists of a series of odd answers which have nothing to do with the interviewer's questions. Often they turn up either drunk, or stinking of booze from the night before. And sometimes they say highly inappropriate things that cannot be printed here!

The best interviews are with stars who have been around a long time, and have learnt that trying to 'be cool' only makes them sound like a knob, and that honest, interesting answers gets them the best publicity.

Two other interesting points I picked up while interviewing celebrities:

1. They are mostly really nice. I've read all sorts of tabloid horror stories about diva fits and egotistical antics, and while they are obviously on their best behaviour when the media is around, I've never met a grumpy celebrity. Most are extremely polite and friendly, and simply prone to an odd mood or two - except the difference is - when they get moody, people end up reading about it in Turkey.

2. Surprisingly, they are not as 'amazingly attractive' as they appear in movies, TV shows, video clips and magazines. Hollywood stars almost always have great skin and a fantastic body. But up close and personal - just think of them as about as good looking as any of your good looking friends. It's amazing what a little mood lighting and airbrushing can do.
Two exceptions: Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Hawkins (ex Miss Universe). The two women should simply be not allowed to exist, as it throws out the entire world average.

Here's a few observations of some of them I've met:
n.b I do not know any of these people from a bar of soap, and these are simply observations based on one meeting. And seriously - what do I know??

Elton John: Smelled fantastic. Not as bitchy as I was expecting. Opened up about his bad relationship with his dad. A pleasant surprise.

Angelina Jolie: Incredible face, terribly skinny body. Seemed so much younger in real life. Playful and fun, a top chick.

Sylvester Stallone: Short and stocky. Hair sprayed on? Incredibly generous and polite, considering he'd just gotten in trouble for bringing steroids into Australia.

Pamela Anderson: Oddly shy when approached by men. Serious makeup issues. Off-planet.

Cameron Diaz: Really cute face. Funny and approachable. The kind of girl men and women could easily hang out with.

Matt Damon: Short. Kind and sweet. I was fine until he smiled - then my legs went to jelly.

Sascha Baron Cohen: He was 'Borat' at the time. Had an army of security guards, more than I've ever seen around anyone. Re-used old jokes I'd seen in my research, but still hilarious. Told me I was very 'little'.

Jerry Seinfeld: In a good mood. Did the 'Newman!' line for me. Approachable and incredibly funny on the spot. Most comedians aren't.

Chris Rock: Surprised me. I was never a fan until I interviewed him. He was generous and genuinely funny, he cracked me up.

Ben Stiller: SO not funny in real life. Very serious. Disappointing.

So let's end this post before you reach geriatric status.

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