Sunday, March 13, 2005

HOW TO BE AN ENTERTAINMENT TV REPORTER


WELL I've made a final decision, I've decided to go into entertainment.

Thud.
That's me fainting as I read my own blog.

But really, I've through with serious journalism. I'm through doing news. I know, I haven't done hard news in a long time anyway but I'm not going back to it. It's sheer misery to cover sob stories, it got me nowhere and it's a waste of my talent to begin with. If I do news the best I could hope for is to end up like Dan Rather. He had the best job in TV news, supposedly, and look what happened to him. He ended up getting carried off his set on a stretcher. So forget hard news, it's a ticket to nowhere.

I'm going to get into doing some sort of journalism or writing on the entertainment and TV industry. I don't know how I'll achieve this, though. I really have no clue where to go or what to do. I actually had been looking for a way to get into entertainment for a while, for close to two years in fact, but basically my entire experience has nothing to do with the field.

I know this: serious news is tough slogging. The local news stories are all pathetic murders and endless funerals. The only decent gigs are as foreign reporters, but in those gigs you have to spend your days avoiding getting shot or arrested in foreign countries where no one speaks your language. What fun is that?

And forget sports. Sports reporters are having the worst year of their professional lives this year and they're not happy.

I know this for a fact from my time when I was at CTV years ago. The happiest people there were the people who all weren't doing hard news. Especially the on-air people who weren't in news. They loved their jobs and loved their lives. And they were also the nicest to me when I was there, by a country mile. In fact I've found it typical of the industry: everywhere you go, the biggest, most arrogant jerks in the business were typically the news people, while the sports and entertainment people were generally people with sunny personalities who loved what they did. True, I've heard of some entertainment people who were arrogant and full of it, but in general I'd say they're a much happier crowd than the news people.

Heck, look at Dina Pugliese (pictured). Now I haven't met her and she could be a conniving diva for all I know, but it sounds like she's having a blast. I was rummaging around the Internet and came across this article on Dina from the Excalibur (York U). Dina, of course, is the deep-voiced and very glamorous co-host of The A-List on Toronto 1.

The article mentioned that Bill Brioux had nice things to say about the program, which is understandable if you compare it to the effort on CTV, eTalk Daily. I'd take Dina over Ben Mulroney any day, and besides, on the A-List you don't have any fawning promo tie-in coverage of Canadian Idol. Can you believe Ben Mulroney has a law degree? It's true. Ben Mulroney is putting his legal education to use, chasing celebrities. In fact I read somewhere that Henry Kissinger's son got a law degree then chucked it to cover entertainment. Interesting.
The article mentioned that early in her career some bigshot told Dina that in order to get into entertainment reporting she really had to go work in some small town like Moose Jaw and pay her dues doing hard news. Well, I've heard these hard news clowns give this advice time and again, and I can tell you right now that this is a line of bull. First of all, there's no TV stations in Moose Jaw so that's bad advice to begin with. But furthermore, I know of very few entertainment reporters who made it by doing strictly hard news. Either you're a beauty queen like Mary Hart or an ex-radio DJ like Billy Bush or Cheryl Hickey, or an ex-sports guy like Pat O'Brien, or you're an actor wannabe (lots of those), or maybe you have a famous last name or are an offspring of a famous politician with the last name starting with the letter M (Eleanor Mondale or Ben Mulroney). I think Liz West at Citytv actually worked in the music industry or something before she went into entertainment news, and I think she never did a day of hard news in her life. Then you have the people like Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert who made it first as print reporters and film writers.

So I say if you really want to do entertainment and know you hate doing news, then don't fool around, do entertainment. Don't waste your time living in Sudbury covering fires or dead bodies. If you suck at it, it won't matter, you'll end up getting fired, and then you are screwed. Doing crime stories and hard news in small towns may have worked for Nancy O'Dell but it doesn't mean it will work for you. I noticed that a lot of hard-news reporters who eventually got into entertainment ended up working for CNN and they eventually were all laid off. So news is a ticket to nowhere as far as I'm concerned. Stick with hard news and the best you'll do is end up stuck covering the business of entertainment or something boring like that. The news business would knock the creativity and personality right out of you. Even a behind the scenes job at a talk show in Toronto is a better option.

If you're female you're better off working behind the scenes at an entertainment or talk show, or volunteering at Rogers doing entertainment stuff, or doing stuff for radio (music is good), or working as a VJ for MuchMusic or as a weathercaster for the Weather Network (that worked for both Jillian Barberie and Carla Collins). If that all doesn't work, win a beauty contest and you'll get on the air for sure. Generally, the guys who made it either worked as music video VJs or were in radio, or hosted game shows (Bob Goen), while most of the rest were sports guys on TV. I say sports experience is a good thing to have. You'll be able to say you have experience covering celebrities. At least, that's the line of bull I plan to use.

So forget about doing news reporting. It does nothing for you if you want to cover entertainment. If you're going to be stuck working in news, for gosh sakes make sure you're in a large city where you can also report on entertainment from time to time or where you can network with other entertainment reporters. Then, at least, you can get a reel made. There, that's my two cents. Get in somewhere where you can do entertainment. And then maybe you stand a chance of getting in somewhere like Dina Pugliese.

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