After watching the press interviews for Maleficent, it made me think about all the times I interviewed Angelina Jolie and how different the press interviews are today. She revealed much more about who she was like, that she performed plays around the house with her older brother James Haven and knew she would be a performer at an early age. “I wanted to be an actor as i was curious about the different sides of life and wanted to explore it.” Her brother is the first one to see her films and tell her what he thinks. I wonder where Brad fits into that picture. When I asked her if her looks get in the way she replied “I don’t feel very confident about myself…I do have a lot of insecurities.” She volunteered that the reason she wears black: “I know people think it’s cool and mysterious. It’s just because I’m a big slob and spill a lot of shit.”For all the press interviews she wore white and black for the premiers She likes to play women who are strong and passionate as it shows strength rather than weakness. I asked her what scares her and it wasn’t stunts. She has worked with the same team for a long time and if they tell her she can do a stunt, she trusts them. It’s real life that scares her “what really scares me, anything happening to someone I love.” When I asked Angelina is this what she thought her movie career would be she said “In this business I can’t believe how critical everybody is of everything and how insecure people are and it’s terrible. I have been through a lot of different things and I think people have so many bad opinions about me, judged me and think I am a bad person. You fight and make bold choices and I keep charging at walls and do the best I can.”She has changed from successful insecure woman to a woman greatly admired for her work with refugees and her courage to reveal her breast cancer surgery.
I interviewed Brad before he got involved with Angelina and he has changed too, from just another handsome actor to a caring humanitarian. Together they have shown the the world what the power of celebrity can do, when used in a positive way. Change is scary and difficult and I know what it has done to me ….I want to hide ….I want to eat …..and I do not want to face it. What has it done to you?
This is a story from my TV talk show past. Amanda Blake, Miss Kitty, from Gun Smoke came on my show once she moved to Scottsdale. Her idea of relaxation and fun was removing her corset and eating everything she had not tasted in the last 20 years.The pay off: she gained a lot of weight and didn’t care. Even though she was heavier than on TV she was still very beautiful. At the time I was working in front of the camera so I had to stay slim and I couldn’t relate to how she was letting loose. Years later when I started working behind the camera in Hollywood and no one ever saw what I looked like, I finally let myself go too. I started eating everything I hadn’t tasted in years too. I gained 60 lbs… but unlike Amanda, I did care…
I went to the Cannes Film Festival only once and never forgot the experience.Lots of posters,banners,movie stars and of course films.I was there when everyone smoked everywhere.What I remember is that I lost my voice after doing 55 interviews some of them were done on the beach,in the casino and of course on yachts. The day started with 8:30 screenings and ended with invitation only parties,no wonder by the time I left I was dead tired.Some moments I remember….Bruce Willis eating a burger with the camera rolling ,interviewing a Chinese actress who spoke no english so I interviewed her interpreter she never looked at me and I delivered one of my worst interviews,and then there was my meeting with Joaquin Phoenix, who asked me to tell his mother how good he was in the film The Yards and I did.Years later Phoenix was having a melt down on the press junket for Ladder 49 and did not want to answer any questions so when I reminded him of our time in Cannes he answered everything and this impressed the studio as no one else got an interview. One of the best memories was when I asked the tekkie to slim my arm as my interviews were being played on the internet and he said”no problem” and he did it. If I was asked to go back again the answer is a big yes.
When I sat down to interview Julianne Moore I was warned by her publicist not to ask any personal questions so of course I did and she didn’t mind – in fact she told me a great story which I promised not to repeat. Of course I was not allowed to interview her again I guess the publicist won.
I was sent to interview Paul Newman 3 weeks after the Redford on the set of The Natural interview and knew that I had a guardian angel,as I had never met movie stars this famous when I worked for CBS in San Diego.My crew and I went to Malibu where he and Joanne Woodward were staying.I was surprised at some of his personal comments when it came to his wife,his marriage,his career and his love of racing.I want to share some of them.His wife,Joanne, had stared in several movies with him or has been directed by him and this what he said,”She blows my socks off when I am directing her.It can be difficult.It can be easy.If it was too easy,it wouldn’t be any fun.I know when to keep my mouth shut with her.” And on his marriage,”I think our marriage is successful because we listen a lot.I don’t want to give the impression that it’s all cherry pie and ice cream. It can be stormy,impossible, difficult and insensitive,but never boring.”When it came to his career it was all about hating his performance in The Silver Chalice and he was surprise to learn that one the most the famous Hollywood journalists, Hedda Hopper, said in her column that she knew he would be a star from that film.I told him that I had a copy of the article and he asked if he could have it and of course I gave it to him. As for racing he told me”Joanne has an interesting theory.She thinks one of the reasons I started racing is that I was getting bored with acting,and my passion for racing bled back into acting….the lady knows me better than I know myself.”What I took away from meeting Redford and Newman is that really big movie stars are gracious and kind when it comes to doing interviews even when they don’t want to do them.Later in my career, I met the other kind who thought they were a star whose behavior bordered on rudeness,those stories and more are in my book Nearly Famous: Secrets,Lies and Addiction.
My first time on a film set was for the Natural and my chance to interview Robert Redford.I had come from local TV and had no idea what a working set is all about.I wore the wrong clothes including high heels so by the time I sat time down with him I hurt all over and he must have known it, as he was so kind to me, to the point that he stayed longer than he had to.He laughed at my first question which put me at ease,and answered every thing considering that I asked more personal questions than he was use to.There was no publicist hovering.This interview which I never forgot, was personally approved by him. My 3 minute Profile was never played on TV because the one hour special was not approved .Years later I found a fading
copy the video might have faded but not the memory.
I am going to surprise you,I am an addict,and I got that way from eating sugar.Don’t laugh it started with a little extra candy after a meal.As my career was getting more successful in Hollywood,I produced TV programing about movies for local TV stations across the country,I spent more and more time on film sets where there was lots of sugared treats.I just ate and ate whatever was at the craft service table [treats provided for crew on sets] and before I was knew it,I had gained 40 pounds.As the weight came on my behavior became more erratic,more demanding of my crew,rude to people and sometimes angry,I wonder If I was really angry at me for self sabotaging my life,but I did not stop.This went on for over 7 years until I weighted 209 pounds and lost most of my business.Help arrived when I went into a 12 step for overeating .Besides a food plan that included portion control it also made me give up sugar and white flour.And then I detoxed for 3 weeks which made me aware that sugar was more than a sweet treat, for me it was my drug of choice.I lost the weight regained my business and found that I am not alone.
I got fired from 3 talk shows and decided to start over in Hollywood with a lot of credentials and no contacts. What I had was a belief in myself that I was a terrific interviewer. I did press junkets for years and knew that with no TV show I would never be invited again to interview movie stars. Since I was desperate to work, I thought what would happen if I could get a studio to listen to my idea that my single interview could play on many TV stations, which had never been done before. I had a list of 55 TV stations, I called a 100 to get them, who would take my interviews and pass them off as their own. This idea came from my being invited to press junkets where only 50 people could do a one on one interview. Would a studio be willing to test this idea? Initially, no studio would take my calls. After one year of working for people with studio contacts and proving my idea worked I was finally offered my first job from Universal and worked for the next 23 years doing movie star interviews. The 55 stations became 110 as everybody wanted my interviews and then I added the world. Hollywood is tough but don’t be afraid to try something you never can tell what will happen.
I am on my way to Los Angles to do some interviews for my morning TV show on CBS in San Diego. I love movies and their stars so I am looking forward to the short plane trip, limo ride and hotel suite that Fox is providing. It’s early May and this is one of three films that I that I will work on over the weekend. The first screening is arranged for that night with interviews set for the following morning, then more screenings and interviews to follow. I see the film and like it but do not love it, so I only ask questions from the production notes that the studio provides. Since I have never heard of any of the actors I am looking for stories that would introduce them to my TV audience. The last interview for the film is with the star, a really good looking guy with starling blue eyes. Oh so handsome and oh so boring, it could have been my questions, but I cannot wait for the interview to be over. I even look at my watch to see how much time is left and know he has no idea that I cannot wait to leave, as I keep smiling. I have to wait 3 weeks for the film to open and when it does on May 25,1977 it becomes the biggest film of that year. I know you guessed it, the film is Star Wars and the boring star: Harrison Ford.
I am only sorry that the interview was not a better one, I found it later in a grocery bag in my storage locker and still have it. Years later, I sat down with Ford for the film Air Force One and had one of the greatest interviews of my career, this time I did a lot of research and the personal stories just poured out, some of them are in my book Nearly Famous:Secrets,Lies and Addiction. So when they announced the new cast of Star Wars this past week all those memories came flooding back.