(Canadian) Celebrity interviewing 101

People ask me all the time how a guy from small-town Canada got into flying all over to chat with Hollywood’s favourites. It’s a long story and I won’t bore you with flashy details like it’s some glamorous story — because it’s not. I am actually laughing out loud right now at the path I took.

I started out by trying to get interviews with Canadian celebrities. My first chats were with Bodybreak’s Hal Johnson, Montreal DJ MC Mario and Wealthy Barber David Chilton (now of Dragons’ Den fame).

It was exciting and I wanted to keep them on the phone as long as possible. I think our average call was 45 minutes, recorded on those tiny microcassette tapes. I later transcribed each of the interviews. It took hours. But I had something to prove: I was a good interviewer and if THESE famous Canucks would talk with me that long then I must have been onto something. Or they were just politely Canadian and didn’t say they wanted to wrap it up.

Nevertheless, that was my foot in the door for covering Canadian Idol in Toronto. It was thrilling that CTV believed in me (meaning: saw me as legitimate and worthy of having access to their show) that I was invited to cover the finale of the now-cancelled reality program. But that first appearance wasn’t without its embarrassment.

Yup, my first “big time” showbiz event and I made a fool of myself. At the catered event I ate too much and I drank waaaaay too much, so much so that while sitting in the front row of the press conference I dropped my new digital camera and broke it.

In the moment I didn’t see anything wrong but in hindsight I look back and recognize that I was trying so hard not to look like an amateur that I did the exact opposite. Live and learn.

I thought for sure I blew my chance of ever getting invited back but as the years went on I had more involvement interviewing judges and contestants from the show.

In fact, people from Idol and the first interviews I mentioned have been the best people throughout the years because they met me when I was just starting out and my attitude towards the whole interviewing thing hasn’t changed: talk to them like regular people.

Does that same approach work for the Hollywood types? I’ll recollect my beginnings of American experiences next week!


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