I have this moment once a year, sometimes twice. I’ll walk away from an interview or an event I just covered and won’t think about my deadline, how the article will turn out or what I could have done better, like I normally do. Instead, I’ll soak in what just happened and think to myself, “Oh, that’s right. I have kind of a cool job.”
It usually involves something or someone I was a fan of when I was younger. Last year it was getting to go inside the Tumbler from “The Dark Knight” and revving the engine. This year? It was interviewing Goo Goo Dolls singer John Rzeznik. Yeah, I know they’re not Radiohead or Arcade Fire, but I was a fan back in the day. And while I don’t recommend meeting your favorite celebs (just trust me on this one), Rzeznik is an exception. He was incredibly friendly, likable and self-aware.
So that’s my favorite celebrity interview of 2013. Here's what my Chicago media peers said when I asked for their favorite celebrity interviews of the year:
Roe Conn, 89 WLS AM’s “Roe & Roeper”: “Elton John. His reputation preceded him as a tough, sometimes prickly subject. He was exactly the opposite, warm and engaging with a superstar's charm for self-deprecation.”
Eric Ferguson, 101.9 FM The Mix’s “Eric & Kathy Show”: “Russell Brand. You never know what direction the conversation is going to go.”
Christopher "Brotha' Fred" Frederick, 103.5 Kiss FM’s "Fred + Angi In The Morning": "Lady Gaga was unexpectedly energetic and forthcoming. In my past experience with her she was far more guarded and terse. I loved her passion for Chicago, sharing that she practically lives here these days, and the appreciation she showed for her local fans."
Jamar “J Niice” McNeil, B96 96.3’s “The J Show”: “Lady Gaga embodies the true meaning of artist. Everything she does, as weird as it may seem, comes from somewhere. A place that is special to her. Whether we get it or not, she's emotionally invested in her art, her influence and her fans. She was a pleasure to talk to about her work and her personal life -- not to mention her love (for) Chicago. A highlight of my career is being able to get time with Lady Gaga.”
Michelle “Showbiz Shelly” Menaker, B96 96.3’s “The J Show”: “The best interview of the year was Lady Gaga. She was so candid and open, talking about everything from working with R. Kelly on her new song to doing yoga here in Chicago. While we tend to always see Lady Gaga in some type of crazy get-up or costume, this interview really humanized her, and the passion she has for her fans really bled through.”
Matt Pais, RedEye: “Sometimes, as with interviews this year with Mark Wahlberg and Alice Eve, a natural rapport is struck that leads to great answers. That wasn't the case with Jeff Garlin -- our time together tiptoed around feeling on edge until it became a heated debate I'll never forget and, more importantly, generated a fascinating and revealing discussion that I like to think taught us both a lesson.”
Dean Richards, WGN-TV: "Oprah Winfrey was absolutely charming in my interview with her about the movie, ‘The Butler.’ It was interesting, warm and very friendly…something I was surprised by since I had been fairly critical of her many years ago about something that was on her old talk show. I’d interviewed her before and it was always very business-like. This time it was fun, touching and insightful, complete (with) 2-handed high-fives. She even stopped the PR person who was trying to wrap up the interview, saying that she wanted to continue the conversation with me. It was a great interview during which she teared up talking about the power of the film. I’ve been bragging that I made Oprah cry ever since."
Jeanne Sparrow, WCIU, The U’s “You & Me This Morning”: “My favorite celebrity we interviewed in 2013 is Mario Batali. I could sum up why I loved him in just two words -- Eataly Chicago. But he was also funny, charming and a lot of fun to talk to. I also love that he shares his knowledge of Italian food and cooking in general to help everyday people who love to cook to take our own meals to the next level. Plus, he said we could have a sleepover at Eataly.”
Ramblin’ Ray Stevens, US 99.5 FM’s "Lisa Dent & Ramblin' Ray Morning Show": "Believe it or not, Paris Hilton. She's an elite socialite and a cute little snob. But for some reason she loves our show and I can always make her laugh. Plus she always sends us a case of her perfume and some hotel robes."
Kelli Zink, Celebtv.com: “Stephen Amell from ‘Arrow.’ CelebTV has a partnership with The CW network and we cover the stars closely. Stephen was even more dynamic in person, and he told me he loves the videos we do on him. It also doesn’t hurt that I have a major crush on him and he’s even more handsome in person.”
Look for "Chicago media members name their least favorite celeb interviews of 2013" on the blog Friday.
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