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How to Interview a Celebrity

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As a public service to any toadie journalist assigned to do an inane starlet profile, here is the style sheet YOU MUST FOLLOW!!!

Whether it's for the L.A. Times, Entertainment Weekly, Parade, or Mercenary Life, there is a specific protocol you are advised to follow to the letter. So please take note:

The interview must be a lunch date at a chic café, clearly identified.

The celebrity will arrive late. You must report how late and what her excuse was. And you must forgive her. Even if the excuse is, "I forgot" or "I had to liquor up to do this because I find you repulsive," you must be charmed.

It's important to describe her outfit. Is Natalie Portman wearing jeans? Lead with that. Gwen Stefani has new sunglasses? Hold page one! And for Godsakes, whatever you do, describe the celebrity's hair. Was it pulled back? Tousled? No one gives a shit what Claire Danes thinks but they sure as hell need to know whether her hair was red, blonde, or strawberry blonde? You spent five years in journalism school at Northwestern. Use your tools.

Painstakingly note whether she picks at an egg white omelet or a Waldorf salad. Celebrities don't eat, they "pick at."

Note that she eats healthy and it's paying off. You must compliment a celebrity's appearance. Jennifer Aniston is "glowing" and "radiant" and when Courtney Love shows up looking like the dog's breakfast she is dressed "casual" and "fun funky."

Once the budding young diva starts yammering learn what is print-worthy and what is just utter brain-dead nonsense. Listen carefully because often you won't be able to distinguish one from the other.

She will tell you that she is now in "a good place." Report that. She's learned some real "life lessons" on her last movie. At this point she'll start talking real fast and you might have a tough time getting it all down. So make it easy on yourself. Write it all out before the interview.

She'll tell you what she thinks of the world situation. She'll have suggestions for how to fix it. Ignore!!! All of it. Complete balloon juice. This is where you can pick at your food.

She'll gush about her latest movie. That's the only reason she's there. It's certainly not to spend time with you. Should you excuse yourself after lunch and go to the bathroom for three minutes, by the time you get back she'll have no idea who you are.

The thing about this film was that the director (just fill in the blank here) who is a "genius" allowed her to tap into an inner place she didn't know even existed. He unleashed the "little girl" in her and maybe two or three past lives. It was really "scary" and "profound." She "suffered" as a result but that's okay because she is "all about the art." It's okay to eliminate all the "y'knows," "ums," and "likes," but you must keep every "I'm all about..."

Do not bring up anything negative. Yes, she killed that pedestrian but it was only one and it was before she was in her "good place" and besides, she's all about Africa now, so that's what you need to focus on.

Never EVER talk about yourself or bring up any topic other than her. She will stare at you in disbelief like you just killed her puppy. A call to the publicist (who's sitting at the next table with five of her best handlers) is certain to follow.

By now she's sipping her cappuccino (which must be duly reported as well as whether she stirs it lazily, holds the cup with two hands, etc. -- this is vital information). Very gingerly, bring up boyfriends. She may volunteer that her relationship is "in a good place" and then you're home free. Again, no negatives. Do not mention that she ruined a marriage or broke up a home. Listen for these words: "(blank) has given me a real sense of self and opened my eyes to so many things." It means she's wrapping it up.

Thank her for taking the time. She will shake your hand and thank you. She's amazed you got so much information out of her. She usually never is that revealing. You'll look away for a second, a gesture of modesty. Poof! By the time you look back she'll be gone.

If you get back to the office, write up the story, and see that you're short you can always slug in the following: She gets great gas mileage on her Prius (even though she drove up in a Porsche). She never actually sees any of the movies she's in. She'd like to do a comedy someday because people don't realize it but she's soooo funny. Harry Potter changed her life. And she's all about the truth but she also just discovered power walking.

Write that up, see it three weeks later as a cover story in People, and request a transfer to Iraq.

You can read more from Ken at kenlevine.blogspot.com