As co-host of Breakfast Television, Toronto’s #1 morning show, Dina Pugliese is one of Canada’s most recognizable faces on morning television.
She’s known for her infectious personality, incredible warmth, fun sense of humour, and engaging interviews. A seasoned pro when it comes to bringing audiences close to the action from the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Dina has covered TIFF for City for the past several years.
No stranger to up-close encounters with A-list celebrities, Dina has interviewed the likes of Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, George Clooney, Halle Berry, Robert DeNiro, Bono, and Jude Law. This year when TIFF takes over Toronto from September 5 to 15, City will bring viewers the day’s first celebrity highlights on Breakfast Television, and the most up-to-date festival coverage on CityNews at 5, 6 and 11 p.m. et.
This year Dina will once again bring City audiences close to the action from the red carpets, galas, and exclusive parties. On the Go sat down with Dina recently to chat about her TIFF experiences, and tips for covering one of North America’s biggest celebrity film festivals.
Describe a typical weekday for you when covering the festival.
The TIFF schedule is enough to put anyone in a tizzy! I start the day with a big breakfast to fuel me. As I’m still hosting Breakfast Television in the morning, anything shorter than a 16-hour day is unusual for me. A typical day usually starts with an early-morn session of researching for the day’s interviews. Then I hop into hair and makeup, head straight to one of Toronto’s downtown TIFF-central hotels to interview actors at a media junket, and watch any required film screenings. Next comes a quick outfit change (the second or third for the day), and its back into a cab to record voiceovers for CityNews, after which I get back into a cab and high tail it over to a red carpet to report live on location for CityNews. This is where snacks in my purse come in handy (nut meat as my colleagues call it when we need something to tie us over). My evening TIFF reporting usually takes place from 8 to 11 p.m. with stops at a few red carpets, and one of the many industry parties that take place into the wee hours of the night. Finally, it’s off to bed for some much needed sleep. Pacing one’s self, and getting a good night’s rest is key to TIFF survival. P.S. – also having a pair of comfy flats to change into at any moment during the marathon day is essential for a reporter covering the festival.
Who has been your best TIFF celebrity interview to date?
My quintessential … rather ‘Clint-essential’ TIFF moment was with Mr. Eastwood himself! He went ahead and “made my day,” when he stopped the interview to pull in his wife (also named Dina), and we all had a good laugh. His wife started taking pictures with her phone, and Clint was having a ball. For me a reporter’s dream interview on the red carpet. His wife gave me her contact information, and we kept in touch. She even offered up a visit to their ranch!
Matt Damon is a perennial favourite of mine. Even amongst screaming fans, and a day with endless media interviews, he is always gracious and thoughtful with all of the hounding red carpet reporters.
Give us some tips for the best way to approach a celebrity. When is the appropriate time to ask for an autograph or take a photo of a star?
If you’re attending a red carpet premiere filled with hundreds of fans and paparazzi — forget niceties — SCREAM LOUD! Seriously! If you’re star spotting in Yorkville, grab a patio and star gaze. It’s the best way to soak in the celebrity atmosphere of TIFF, and spare your feet. At the end of the day it’s all about luck and timing, but it never hurts to ask a celebrity for a picture or an autograph.
What’s the best way to get a star comfortable chatting with you? Do you have a go-to ice breaker?
I find it’s best to just to be yourself, have fun, and try to keep questions fresh, as the celebrities sit through lengthy media junkets where they often have to answer the same questions repeatedly to promote their films. I usually like to ask something non-film related to begin the interview, and keep it light and conversational.
What is your most memorable TIFF memory?
Watching the frenzy that ‘Brangelina’ (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) created in Toronto was unbelievable. It was a sea of screaming fans reaching fever pitch when the couple floated (they don’t walk, they float I swear) out of their limo. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen (or heard), and will never forget (nor will my eardrums ever recover). They are just as graceful and flawless in the flesh.
What celebrities are you most looking forward to seeing this year?
I’m most looking forward to seeing Brad Pitt, followed by George Clooney. George always brings the cool charisma. Next on my list is Hugh Jackman because he is the nicest guy. I’m also excited to see Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, and Sandra Bullock who is finally gracing us with her talent, beauty, and wit. Alright ladies and gents, pack your smartphones, water, ‘nut meat’ and flats, and let’s do this!
Catch Dina’s TIFF coverage each weekday morning during the festival on Breakfast Television, and CityNews at 5, 6 and 11 p.m. et on City.
Stay up-to-date on all of Dina’s celebrity interviews during TIFF by following her on Twitter @