Last year, Toronto’s weekly newspaper The Grid interviewed eTalk Host and Good Morning America Contributor Ben Mulroney about what it’s like to hit the red carpet on Oscar night. Here’s an excerpt of their “behind the scenes” conversation, and you can watch Ben’s promo reel above:
Okay, be honest—how long is it going to take you to get ready for Oscar night?
I go to the gym the morning of. I get a really good sleep. We used to stay up cramming…
You mean like, “Quick, name all the birthplaces of the Jolie-Pitt children”?
Well, my executive producer would say, “So and so has just arrived—what’s your first question?” At this point we’ve sort of developed a shorthand, and most of the time you can see the star coming down the carpet, so you do have a couple of seconds to figure it out. So we don’t stay up cramming anymore. It’s just shower, hair, shave—that’s about 20 minutes. I keep the hair shorter now, so it’s faster.
Wait, no blow dry?
I always use a blow dryer—I don’t ever want to leave the house with wet hair.
You’ve been doing the Oscar red carpet for 10 years. In all that time, which celebs stick out as favourites?
Oprah Winfrey sticks out. She showed up when we’d just gone into a three-and-a-half minute commercial break. That is a long time to make small talk with the biggest celebrity in the world, and my producer is in my ear saying, “Do not let her go!” She could tell I was panicking and she just tightened her grip around my hand and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere.”
What about when you’re sort of spinning your wheels interviewing a C-lister and all of a sudden you hear, “Brad Pitt’s ready right this second”?
Well, hopefully he can wait for me to wrap up with a final question, but sometimes that’s not the case. Then you have to cut the person off and wish them a great night. When that happens, it’s awful, but I think people understand that there’s a pecking order.
How does covering Oscar night compare to covering TIFF?
There’s no carpet in the world that compares to the Oscars. TIFF is different because we’re on our own turf. We do work with the festival year-round, so we’re rewarded with great positioning.
….Do you ever feel icky about some of the stuff you cover, given that there is so much “real news” going on in the world?
There are parts of your job that you like better than others. I don’t want to interview Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan. I’ve expressed that to my producers and there are plenty of reporters who want to do those interviews. I follow the mainstream news and current events as much as anyone else. I’ve always thought of eTalk as an important show. Prior to this, there was no show that covered Canadian accomplishment in entertainment. And the majority of our show is still Canadian content. What’s the point of all of these tax credits and the CRTC if there is no one there to deliver the end result?
Did you notice that someone created a fake Ben Mulroney Twitter feed a while back? That person talked a lot about tanning.
First of all, this is mostly makeup. It’s just one of those things. And look, how many people in Canadian television are a known quantity? If somebody said “Ben Mulroney” and the response was, “Who?”, that would be more worrying.
You and your wife [Jessica Mulroney] have twin sons. Do they watch you on TV?
They recognize me on TV, but they don’t really understand how I’m there and in the house.
I read that you don’t plan to stay in the celebrity news game forever. So what’s next?
I’d like to segue into current events eventually.
Interview with The Grid’s Courtney Shea, February 2012.