ETalk Does Tiff 2017
by andrew chapados | For Etalk’s Ben Mulroney and Danielle Graham, walking the red carpet isn’t just about meeting celebs, promoting film/TV or simply paying the bills. The co-hosts are finely tuned to what their viewers want to see and have perfected their skills to ensure their interviews bring something extra to the audience.
It’s all about creating moments that will live on in show business history and enjoying all the glitz and glamour in the moment, rather than snapping selfies (which are inevitable either way).
Graham — who has been around the world and back covering TIFF, Teen Choice Awards & the Emmys — has been a forefront media personality in Canada for 15+ years, while Mulroney has been successfully/impressively hosting Etalk since shortly after the turn of the century.
ONtheGO caught up with the anchors of Etalk to see how they prepare for big award shows, discuss their work ethic and see how they wind down … if and when there’s time that is.
otg: You are back to cover the Toronto International Film Festival once again this September. What are you most looking forward to? Any films you are particularly excited about?
ben: There are a number of movies I can’t wait to see at TIFF this year: Darkest Hour (Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill); Stronger (Jake Gyllenhaal and ORPHAN BLACK’s Tatiana Maslany); Great Choice; A Worthy Companion (Evan Rachel Wood); Black Cop (by Corey Bowles); Borg/ McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf); Suburbicon (directed by George Clooney); The Mountain Between Us (Idris Elba); and Chappaquiddick (Jason Clarke, Kate Mara).
danielle: I’m really excited for I, Tonya, starring Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding. In fact, a few of us at Etalk have called dibs on covering that one because we’re so into it! I bawled during the trailer for Stronger, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany, so that’s one I’m definitely looking forward to seeing. This year, I’m just really pumped to get back out there! I was on mat. leave last year and covered a few red carpets, but I’m looking forward to having the full TIFF experience this year.
otg: You will be interviewing some of the world’s top A-List celebrities. What do you do to prepare? Do you have a preinterview ritual?
ben: The preparation for TIFF happens all year round at Etalk. The team at Etalk loves movies. We live and breathe them, so when TIFF rolls around, we have been talking about these movies and producing stories on them following their productions and well in advance of their worldwide premieres. Our unparalleled TIFF coverage is a chance to let our movie freak flags fly.
danielle: I start by viewing the movie as early as possible — whenever a screener becomes available! Sometimes, with how hectic the days are during TIFF, it’s not always possible, but we really make an effort to see as many films as we can ahead of time to best prepare. I also like to review questions and talk about the films’ themes with our amazing producers at Etalk. For me, an interview is more of a conversation. So the most important thing you can do is listen.
otg: Is there a particular celebrity you are most looking forward to speaking to?
ben: Hands down, George Clooney. He is the consummate professional, funny, charming, engaging, and polite (which matters!)
danielle: I always love talking to Matt Damon. He’s one of the nicest guys in Hollywood and he has two films in the festival this year, so I’m hoping to get the chance to speak to him. I’ve never interviewed Angelina Jolie and there’s a good chance she’ll be here so I’d love to speak to her as well.
otg: What is your favourite part about working the red carpets?
ben: Creating moments with stars that will live on well beyond the shelf life of any particular movie. Sometimes, it’s not about asking the most insightful question or knowing more about the movie than anyone else. It’s about creating a mood or tone that allows the movie star you are talking to forget — just for a moment — where they are and who they are talking to. Their walls come tumbling down and you get a viral moment for the ages — which make for great moments for our viewers.
danielle: I love the anticipation just before a red carpet starts, and the crazy electric buzz that happens as soon as the first star arrives. It’s always great to connect with people you only see once a year covering these red carpets too. And the dressing up part is fun too!
otg: What do you do to unwind after the Festival is over?
ben: Wind down? Etalk is gearing up for another incredible season ahead (Season 16) and I have to be at the office for Your Morning at 3:30 a.m. the very next day … I’ll wind down when I retire!
danielle: After TIFF, I’m heading straight to L.A. to cover the Emmy Awards for Etalk. Then, once I’m back home, I will catch up on some major R&R with my family at our cottage — binge-watching TV shows and reading.
Ben Mulroney and Danielle Graham are anchors for CTV’s Etalk — Canada’s most-watched entertainment news program — which airs weeknights at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CTV and CTV GO. For more information, visit etalk.ca.