Media, Darling: Miranda Purves

Miranda Purves was appointed Editor of FLARE in
June 2012 and is responsible for evolving the editorial vision of the magazine
and leading the content team as it inspires Canadian fashion, beauty and style
enthusiasts.



A proud Canadian with an impressive 20-year international track record in the publishing industry, Purves spent 12 years honing her skills in New York. She was most recently with ELLE US where she was originally hired to establish a living section before being promoted several times, eventually to the position of lifestyle editor.


Purves previously spearheaded the launch of the stand-alone colour fashion newspaper US Fashion Daily and worked as a senior fashion editor at Mademoiselle. In Canada, she has worked for both Saturday Night and the National Post. Purves has also done freelance writing for the likes of the New York Times and the Paris Review.

Self portrait from my corporate bathroom series. Took a
photo of myself in the same mirror everyday of my first six months at Flare.



Twitter: @FLAREfashion
Website: Flare.com

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other
careers were on the horizon?
I’ve always wanted to charm, surprise or move, and be
charmed and surprised or moved, by the intersection of words and images. And
I’ve always wanted to be, if not at the centre, at least on the periphery of
*the* conversation. The media is where that took me.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
As I wrote in an editor’s letter a few issues ago, I’d like
be furthering causes of environmental and social justice more than I am now.
Less grandly, I’d also like to have reached some work-life balance that would
allow me to work out more regularly. I used to be low level but consistent, but
these days I can’t seem to make the time. I’m terrified to hit my fifties
without more muscle mass. After 40 it’s all erosion. You’re so much better off
having more to erode.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Be dogged and be rigorous, make sure your resume looks good,
fits on one page and is grammatically consistent. Don’t send unnecessary emails
to busy people, be useful to them and try to empathize rather than personalize.
Hone your craft however and whenever you can.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your
own?
 
Man, that’s too hard! I scour tons of print media, mostly
what you’d expect: The Grid and Toronto Life are both fantastic, Globe and
Mail
, Toronto Star (their metro reporting kicks a**), New York Times and the
magazines (am awed by Deborah Needleman’s surgical redo of T even as I mourn
Sally Singer), New York, New Yorker, Paris Review, TLS, New York Review of Books when I find it, ELLE US (where I used to work; they have fantastic
features that don’t get nearly enough recognition, which I think is a weird
sexism) the British fashion mags, Worn, the recipes in Chatelaine, I’m enjoying
Vanity Fair after a long hiatus… I just like gorging. For several years New
York Magazine
was definitively my favorite but —this
is unfair – it’s so good that the so goodness gets old hat! Being at the
airport when the September Vogue has just dropped; it is embarrassing how happy
it makes me. Online: my brother’s smart, funny blog that intertwines his civic
and personal life in Montreal http://briquesduneige.blogspot.ca/.

Best interview you’ve ever had?
The artist Jenny Holzer, over emailI had to cut it down to a nubbin, but she is a genius and it
felt like a dance between us.
Worst? 
I don’t remember specifics because when an interview is bad
I blame myself and throw it into the vast ocean of self criticism that ebbs and
flows within.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
So much of it is personal! My sister-in-law hipped me to the
adage “Never apologize, never explain,” and I call
on that in times of trouble.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t work for capitalism, make capitalism work for you.
Love more, complain less (that’s not always in effect).

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
You can assume that if the story is one that makes sense for
that editor or that outlet, they will want it. All we need is the information.
We don’t need announcements on two-inch thick slabs of Lucite in heavy stock
boxes tied with ribbon. —It creates more work for the mail
room and custodial staff and is bad for the environment. And if it’s from an advertiser’s PR, we have
to pay attention, so that goes double.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
about #wins.
Well, I was happy to get that righteous block of Parmesan
from Max Mara PR for Christmas. But aside from thoughtful edible gifts, it’s
satisfying when a story is personal and mutually beneficial. For the April
Flare (out now) we worked with Ann Watson, Club Monaco’s PR VP, on a well story
in which Peter Ash Lee shot the BC-born model Mackenzie Hamilton in Club M
mixed with other designers at the design director Caroline Belhumeur’s lovely
Victorian house, followed by a profile-ette of her. The catalyst was my own
curiosity. —I was impressed by their recent
ad campaigns and their clothes, so I investigated her and wanted to do
something that expressed something about what she was expressing in the
clothes. That led to her house. 

As a fashion magazine we’re pretty focused on
designers, but chains are what most of us can afford, and I like the way they
are starting to steer away from creating a faceless brand (Jenna Lyons!). The
shoot took a lot of trust (it was her house) as well as coordinating and
persistence because everyone involved had busy schedules, but Ann wasn’t scared
off by that. She knew the reality of making something special happen. It felt
warm and organic and I think that reads in the story, which is about both of
our stories, in a nice way.

I hate?
Man’s inhumanity to man and unnaturalness to nature. People
who gut houses of original detail and stick potlights everywhere. Egotism, bad
taste and a lack of imagination: horrible combination.
I love?
Watching my eldest son’s gesticulations that began when he
first started talking, persist. I want those hand gestures to never go away.
Professionally: my colleagues who bring real thought and care to their work. It
makes the days good.

Reading?
The second installment of Susan Sontag’s journal entries and
the latest Diana Vreeland bio.

Best place on earth?
Please! That answer can only be metaphorical and
metaphysical!  But right now I’m enjoying
bourgeoisie pleasure zones, such as the king size bed in our rental house when
my husband and two sons and I are all on it together snuggling, just before my
husband gets too grouchy and needs coffee, my two year old bangs his head
jumping, and my seven year old will not cease talking like a Pikachu (whose
language consists of pica over and over.) 

Hero?
There’s a long list: George Tiller, the abortion provider
murdered in Witchita, Kansas; Barbara Lee, the only person in the US congress
to vote against the Iraq war in 2002, Paul Watson, whale savior, … unionists, suffragettes, abolitionists, environmentalists,
all the people, now and throughout history, who conduct themselves with
inimitable bravery and tireless focus, for what they (and I) believe is right
and incrementally, maybe, help society evolve.

Dinner guests?
My friends are dauntingly adept conversationalists, I’m not
sure a famous figure could compete.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
I debated putting apps on my hate list.

Pool or ocean?
Ocean

Voicemail or email?
Email, except for maybe five specific voices for which I
would stop the earth at any moment to listen to over several repeats.

Media, Darling: Natalia Manzocco

Natalia Manzocco heads up the Homes section and
copy edits at 24 Hours Canada, and writes about fashion and technology for QMI
Agency and Sun Media newspapers. In her “spare time” (a term she uses
extremely loosely) she plays guitar in The Cheap Speakers.



image source: Natalia Manzocco

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what
other careers were on the horizon?
In grade four, I wrote and designed my own one-page
“newspaper” full of book reviews and handed it out at school. I
probably should have seen this coming, all things considered. 
Things really crystallized in high school, when I learned
that the drummer from Barenaked Ladies (my preteen heroes — I was about as cool
as you might expect) went to Ryerson for radio and television studies. Further
investigation revealed that Ryerson had a well-known journalism program, and
there it was. Thanks, Tyler.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Surrounded by lifestyle content ’round the clock, working
on putting together a beautiful, engaging and fun product (print, magazine, web
— wherever).
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Meet lots of people, be nice to them, and expand your
network of contacts. You never know what doors will open. 
Be prepared to go where the opportunities are; I was
lucky enough to find internships and summer jobs that took me to Calgary and
New Brunswick. Let the wind blow you around.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your
own?
Truth be told, I probably spend
more time reading the exploits of Twitter’s army of wisecracking Torontonians
than any established media source. But I typically go to the Toronto Star for breaking
news, the New York Times for feats of long-form daring, the Globe and Mail for
a little of each of those things, and Refinery29 and The Cut for fashion
content. I also have severe Lucky Magazine problems. If it takes too long to
show up in my mailbox I start twitching.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Notable sweet, chatty people include Jason Reitman, Josh
Ritter, and Jay Ferguson from Sloan.
Worst?
I interviewed the drummer from a hardcore band who had
just released his own solo record. He sat reclined on the green room couch with
his feet up and responded to all of my questions like so: Yah. No. Yah. Every
drummer joke I’ve ever heard: validated.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
I’ve been given plenty, but I also have the memory of a
goldfish. Much the stuff that has stuck with me can be found in the lyrics to
Nada Surf’s 2005 album The Weight Is A Gift.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t be afraid to take the shot. If you find a door,
give it a wee push and see what happens.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
This is just going to end up being a list of pet peeves.
I apologize in advance.
– Please don’t call and follow up on a pitch you sent me
that morning. My focus is so limited (homes, tech, style) that I just may not
be able to utilize the pitch you’ve sent. If I can, though, you’ll certainly be
hearing back from me!
– You don’t really need to put my name on the press
release. Personal touches are great, but I completely understand if you want to
reduce the odds of slipping up on the ol’ copy-paste and calling me Terry or
Steve or, God forbid, Natalie.
– If you’re sending releases and samples in the mail,
please don’t use a box big enough to fit a flat press release into when all
you’re mailing along is a tiny, tiny lipstick. Get a padded envelope. Get rid of
that fancy folder. Anything. I CAN HEAR TREES WEEPING.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
about #wins.
Much of what I do is pretty on-the-fly, so when I send an
email frantically seeking high-res art or a product’s Canadian
availability/MSRP and the rep gets right back to me, I tell you, the angels
sing. I try not to assume that everyone’s at their desk ready to help me out
all of the time, but it’s absolutely marvelous when someone is prepared with
all the necessary info and materials and can get you out of a tight jam.
I hate?
Copy editor hours. Getting to wake up late is pretty
great, but I will unfortunately never be able to attend anyone’s awesome
late-afternoon event. Gotta build me a paper.
I love?
Polka dots, stripes, glittery stuff, Fender guitars with
matching headstocks, Blanche de Chambly, and my cat (who is himself striped).
Reading?
I still need to finish Grace Coddington’s autobiography,
which I was distracted from a couple weeks ago. The last one before that was
Who I Am by Pete Townshend. Next on deck is The Good Girls Revolt: How theWomen of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich.
Best place on earth?
Zingerman’s deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Dinner guest?
My dad, from whom I inherited all of my foodie
tendencies. I would bring my A and A+ games for that meal.
Hero?
Novelist/YouTuber John Green, Lena Dunham, Jenna Lyons,
and Electric Six lead singer Dick Valentine. And my mum. And Keith Moon.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these
days)?
I’m a bit of a beer nerd; lately I’ve been tracking all
the brews I sample through Untappd, which is a fun little social media app that
lets you rate and review beers, check in to wherever you drank them, and earn
badges, Foursquare-style. Thanks to the guys at C’est What for most of the stuff
on my “tried” list. I’ll see you tonight, probably.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean. You can actually sit and hang out by the ocean and
enjoy it without having to actually get in (something I would prefer to avoid).
Pools are significantly less fun to observe.
Voicemail or email?
Email, always.


image source: Natalia Manzocco
“The internet loves cats”

Media Darling: Alexander Liang

Alexander Liang is an entrepreneur,
stylist and Editor-in-Chief of KENTON magazine. Originally from Vancouver, he broke into the New York scene graduating from Parsons School of
Design and cut his teeth in the fashion editorial world at Details
magazine, T: The New York Times Style Magazine and Mochi Magazine.  Also bringing in previous experience in fashion PR,
Alexander created
KENTON magazine on the basis of bridging the gap between the
commercial and avant-garde publications currently available to North
American consumers. 



Twitter: @kentonmagazine
Did you always want to be in
the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
No not at all.
As a child, I wanted to be everything from a farmer to an architect. When I
decided that I wanted to work in fashion, my first goal was to open the next
big fast fashion store. Later, things changed and I wanted to work in
advertising. That soon changed to PR and marketing, which then led to editorial
and media. I think I’ll stick with that for a while now, ha!
Where would you like to be
five years from now?
Five years from now, I hope to be doing even more in my current
role, with greater impact on the industry. I also hope that my business
continues to develop and reach new, still unknown successes.


Any advice for people getting
started in your industry?
Make sure you are passionate about what you’re doing. Set goals,
follow them and be professional. Work hard and try to learn as much as you can,
wherever life takes you. 

What are your favourite media
outlets, not including your own?
I get my news from a lot of different sources, but I enjoy
reading
WWD and The New York Times.
Best interview you’ve ever
had?
The best interview I’ve had was with celebrity stylist June Ambrose 
Best interview we’ve had in KENTON was with Joe Jonas.

Worst?
To me, a bad interview would be one where conversation isn’t
flowing freely. Luckily, I haven’t run into any situations that I found to be
that difficult!

Best advice you’ve ever been
given?
Be nice to everyone, because you never know where they came from
or where they’re going. For example, your current intern could become your
future boss.

What rule(s) do you live your
life by?

Seize the day.
What’s the most important tip
you can give PR pros?
Know who you’re pitching to and make sure your pitch is relevant
to them.


Best experience you’ve had
with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
My favorite publicists acknowledge the coverage we give their clients,
and show appreciation and support back to us. It can even be something as
simple as making us feel special, but we’ll remember.
I hate?
Olives.


I love?
Coffee.


Reading? 
My twitter feed.


Best place on earth? 
Hawaii.


Dinner guest?
Victoria Beckham.


Hero?
Ralph Lauren.
Favourite app (or whatever
you are downloading these days)?
Pool or ocean?
Ocean.


Voicemail or email?
Email.

Media, Darling: Sabrina Maddeaux

Sabrina
Maddeaux is the Managing Editor at
Toronto Standard, where she writes
and edits smart, candid content that sometimes makes people angry. Prior to
that, she was the Style Editor at
Toronto Standard. And before that, she
freelanced for publications such as
Toronto Life, blogTO.com, Sweetspot.ca,
TCHAD Quarterly, Faze Magazine, GlobalNews.ca, and more.

She
attended St. Bonaventure University in New York, where she studied political
science, journalism, and theology, and played NCAA Division I soccer for two
years. She likes things that aren’t boring. And cheese, always cheese.
Photo credit: Becca Lemire

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were
on the horizon?
Actually, I always thought I’d be a lawyer. When I graduated from
university, I got into top law schools like Boston College and Notre Dame — I
even put down a deposit at Boston College and moved there. Two weeks before
classes were supposed to begin, something just didn’t feel right. So I totally
freaked out my parents, got a one-year acceptance deferral, and never looked
back.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’d still like to be the editor of an independent publication. There’s
so much more freedom in what you can write and the opinions you can express — I
can’t see myself giving that up anytime soon.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Live outside whatever your beat is. If you cover fashion by day, be a
political junkie by night. It provides perspective and makes for a more
interesting writer and person.
Also, don’t regurgitate press releases. Think for yourself. Originality
creates value.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
The Atlantic, the New York Times, Jezebel, xoJane, The Paris Review, The
New Yorker
, The New Inquiry, Gawker, and a slew of other small independent
pubs. I watch Breaking Bad, Damages, Veep, Mad Men, Dexter, Golden Girls
reruns, and too much TMZ.
Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
I’ve always had good interviews, maybe because I think of them as
conversations and not interviews. I’m also really picky about who I interview
because I hate transcribing.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
I think it was Kelly Cutrone who said, “Be everywhere, meet everyone.”
That was my philosophy for a long time, and still is. This industry is all
about networking and you never know when you’ll meet someone that can change
your career.


What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Always eat a good breakfast. Cereal doesn’t count.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Don’t complain about mostly positive coverage (unless there’s a factual
error). And don’t complain about honest reviews and feedback — even when
they’re negative. Also, don’t blacklist lightly. Media talk and we tend to have
each other’s backs when it comes down to it.
Finally, read my publication. If you pitch me an actress for our next
(nonexistent) cover, I can’t take you seriously ever again.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I like any PR pro who takes the time to get to know my publication and
me. The agencies and publicists I prefer really get what I do and don’t try to
brainwash me.
I also appreciate PRs who set realistic expectations about their events
and products; it shows they value my time and trust. Don’t lie to me, and I’ll
like you. If I like you, I might just cover that dingy event where one Degrassi
kid shows up (You’ll eventually have one. Everybody does), because I care.
I hate?
Censorship, Internet outages.
I love?
Strong cheeses and John Lithgow.
Reading?
I’m slowly working my way through the Game of Thrones series.
Best place on earth?
St. Bonaventure, NY.
Dinner guest?
I’m a little obsessed with media mogul and feminist icon Jane Pratt
right now. Would love to pick her brain.
Hero?
I think everyone should be his or her own hero.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Is it so five years ago to say Shazam? I’m on a BlackBerry, so my
entire device is so five years ago. I can’t be blamed.
Pool or ocean?
No question: ocean. The smell alone is so relaxing.
Voicemail or email?
Unless someone’s dying… NEVER, EVER voicemail.

Media, Darling: Fraser Abe

Fraser Abe is a freelance lifestyle and entertainment writer based in Toronto. He’s mainly known for his work with Toronto Life, but his writing has also appeared in The Grid, the Toronto Standard and SharpForMen.com. In his downtime he enjoys being a misanthropic curmudgeon yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

Twitter: @fraserabe
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
No, I worked on Bay Street doing Bay Street-y things. After I decided the only thing I liked about the business was after-work drinks on Thursdays at the various patios (including many a mis-spent evening at Vertical), getting laid off was the push I needed to apply for an internship at Toronto Life. That was in 2009 and I haven’t looked back since. Except, you know, when I realize it takes money to do things.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’d love to be living in New York and writing for GQ or Esquire or something, but I think if I re-read this in five years and I’m still in Toronto I’ll be depressed, so let’s just say still here, but making decidedly more money.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Unpaid internships get a lot of flack, but I think they’re the best way to learn and to meet people in the business. My writing was pretty rambling and incoherent when I wrote for She Does The City (I wrote a sort-of gay sex column called Homo Arigato Mr Roboto) and my internship really helped me polish my work. It’s also really great to know how to fact-check and what goes into making a magazine, even if you want to work online or, I’d guess, in PR. Also, check your expectations. This job isn’t even close to glamourous. Find a rich husband (I’m still looking, fellas) if you want glamour or Balenciaga tote bags.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
This is a tough question for freelancers, since I’ve written for Toronto Life, The GridSharp and the Toronto Standard (all amazing outlets, of course). But I like Gawker (they’re snarkier than I could ever actually be in print – though I probably come close in real life), the AV Club and anyone else who would like to pay me to write for them. My new favourite magazine right now is Wired – they do great stories with fun charticles like “What’s In Pop Rocks”.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
I don’t do a lot of proper interviews, but during TIFF I talk to celebrities for nanoseconds. This year I peed with Gerard Butler. I also had a great time chatting with Aaron Levine and Michael Williams from A Continuous Lean for the Toronto Standard when they came to Toronto for the relaunch of the Club Monaco on Bloor.
Worst?
If only I had interesting stories to impart. I’d just say generally when people give one word answers it makes writing something pithy pretty difficult.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
I think Carley Fortune (torontolife.com associate editor when I was interning) was a really great mentor, despite us being the same age, and she really helped my writing. I used to submit 500 word posts, but now my work is a lot more succinct. I’ve also got to give thanks to Matthew Fox (torontolife.com‘s editor) for giving me a chance to cover TIFF my first year, when he’d only seen me write for one other outlet. Jen McNeely from SDTC, who I met as a summer student a thousand years ago, gave me my first writing gig and introduced me to Matthew. And if you’ve never worked with Veronica Maddocks, try to. She is the most thorough researcher I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with and an amazing teacher.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Oh, I don’t know. Who has their own personal mantra they repeat in front of the mirror every morning? I guess just be nice to the people who serve you food and drive you places.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Learn people’s names. Everyone on Twitter seems to hate that and I can’t even count how many people think my first name is Abe. Follow up with a personalized email if you (for some strange reason) actually want me somewhere or want me to pitch a story to some outlet. It’s hard to care when your email is so obviously a form letter (unless you’re sending emails about free wings – keep those coming).
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins. 
All of my best experiences with PR people have been because they’ve taken the time to try and know me and know what I actually write about. A less formal approach is always appreciated, I like when we can joke about other stuff while still getting work done. I also am always appreciative of PR people who realize most of us don’t have time to respond to every email we get.
I hate?
Lots and lots and lots of things. Read my Twitter, I’ve probably written about something that irked me within the last 24 hours.
I love?
Walks on the beach, dinner by candlelight, macarons with my New York Times Sunday crossword and a Starbucks Venti half-caf moccachino, being facetious.
Reading?
I just came back from a vacation where I read American Pastoral by Philip Roth (Dawn Dwyer reminded me so much of Betty Draper I feel like Matthew Weiner must have stolen her from Roth) and Bossypants by Tina Fey. Right now I’m reading Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem. And I love to read this little indie drawn art series about these kooky teenagers from a fictitious town called Riverdale.
Best place on earth?
Well I just returned from Turks and Caicos, where I ate lobster and swam in turquoise water every day so let’s say there. And of course I love Saturdays at Fly. Look for me next time you’re there, I’m the one with his shirt off drinking Rev.

Dinner guest?

Ina Garten, but she has to cook us a roast chicken and bring her cadre of fabulous gays.
Hero?
Gambit from the X-Men. Maybe Wolverine.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Instagram is fun, but let’s be real. Scruff.
Pool or ocean?
Pool, provided there are no screaming children.
Voicemail or email?
The only person that leaves me voicemails is my dad. And Kevin Naulls (but he prefers to be called Big Kev), when he tells me “we need to talk about last night”. He tricks me every time – I guess I should stop getting black-out drunk.

Media, Darling: Barry Hertz

Barry Hertz is the National Post’s Arts & Life editor. Prior to dreaming up pun-happy headlines and planning stories on summer blockbusters, he was conjuring straightlaced display and copy editing pieces on Middle East strife as a member of the Post’s night news desk. He is currently trying to co-ordinate TIFF coverage, and can be found breaking into panic sweats in the office foyer. 


Twitter: @HertzBarry, @nparts

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?

I’ve always wanted to make a living writing, so journalism seemed a natural fit when deciding what to study in university. (This was about two years before everyone decided to collectively wring their hands over the future of print. Timing is everything.) While I always considered the media as a backup to my real plan (screenwriting, another easy-to-enter industry), it wasn’t until midway through my four years at Ryerson that I began to give journalism some serious, this-could-be-a-career consideration.

Where would you like to be five years from now?

On a beach in Thailand, flush with riches from the gutsiest Casino Rama heist of all time. Or, you know, editing while working on a book or TV show on the side.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Never burn any bridges and always, always, always be sure to spell people’s names correctly. Plus, it never hurts to be open to criticism and know your way around a press conference.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?

Every morning before heading up to the Far North (a.k.a. Don Mills), and throughout the day, I check out New York Magazine‘s Vulture website, New York TimesArts Beat blog, The AV Club, Hollywood Elsewhere (run by the cranky yet lovable Jeffrey Wells) and The Hollywood Reporter.

Best interview you’ve ever had?
Director Terry Gilliam is one of my idols, and getting the chance to speak with him for almost an hour (up from our scheduled 15 minutes) was one of those clichéd dream-come-true journalism moments. 

Worst?
Well, a certain sci-fi icon who shall go nameless once gave me one-word answers for the better part of 10 minutes. In short, I’ll never wear that franchise’s pajamas again.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Proofread your story twice before filing. Then proof it again.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?

Never check email after 10 p.m. But, it’s always 10 p.m. somewhere…

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?

I think this point has been echoed by my Post colleagues, but please make sure you’ve actually read the publication you’re pitching to. I’ve yet to publish anything in the Post’s Arts & Life section on dog food, RV shows or how to pick up women at a chicken wing bar. It’s unlikely I ever will.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.

I’ve dealt with a large number of PR reps who go above and beyond — rushing to get last-minute photo requests filled, sneaking me in a few minutes early for extra interview time, etc. PR reps and the media are both here to make everyone’s lives easier, and for the most part, Toronto’s PR community gets that.

I hate?
15MB emails. And commuting. Two usually unrelated things.

I love?
Quiet nights filled with Breaking Bad and breakfast burritos.

Reading?

Too many magazines. Maybe I’ll get around to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, which is gathering dust on my nightstand. Or maybe not.

Best place on earth?

Trinity Bellwoods Park with a greasy bag of Chippy’s and mushy peas.

Dinner guest?
The New Yorker‘s David Grann.

Hero?
Batman. You meant comic book hero, right?

Favourite app?

Rdio.

Pool or ocean?
Pool. I like to see what’s lurking underneath.

Voicemail or email?

Email. Always.

Media, Darling: Richard Ouzounian

Richard Ouzounian is currently the theatre critic at the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper, as well as the Canadian theatre reporter and critic for Variety, “the bible of show business”.

Richard has worked in the arts professionally for 39 years. In that time, he has written, directed, or acted in more than 250 productions, served as artistic director of five major Canadian theatres, been an associate director of the Stratford Festival of Canada for four seasons, and was Harold Prince’s assistant on the original Toronto production of The Phantom of the Opera.

From 1990 through 2004, he hosted CBC’s weekly radio program on musical theatre called Say It With Music and from 1995 to 2000, served as creative head of arts programming at TVOntario.

Ouzounian has published six books, including a collection of his celebrity interviews, titled Are You Trying To Seduce Me, Miss Turner?. He has been married for 34 years and has two children, Kat and Michael.

Twitter: @TorontoStar

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?

I was always fascinated by the thought of being a theatre critic/celebrity interviewer from an early age, but not a lot of jobs for teenagers in those ranks, so I went into theatre and worked successfully as an actor, writer, director and artistic director for 20 years before shifting into media.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
Exactly where I am now. Okay, 10 pounds lighter.


Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Learn as much as you can about the art form you’re interested in covering. Don’t just soak up media reports about it. Get out and meet as many people in the business as you can and don’t just live behind a computer screen. Network, network, network.


What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
The New York Times,  BroadwayStars.com, Variety, The Daily Show, Q (big Jian Ghomeshi fan).


Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
The best: Richard Harris, shortly before he died. I interviewed him on a day when he just felt like letting his hair down and discussing everything he’d been through. Kind of a “let’s clear the slate” sort of thing.

The worst: Katie Holmes, after Dawson’s Creek, before Tom Cruise. She was very sweet and polite but she answered every question I asked her about Pieces of April (the movie she was promoting) or Dawson’s Creek (which had just ended its run) with monosyllables.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Do TONS of research, and then don’t bring your research notes into the interview. Memorize them. Make the subjects think it’s a conversation.



What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t do anything in print (or on the air) that you wouldn’t want done to you by someone else.


What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
No means no. Once I’ve told them I can’t or won’t do a piece, I hate being nudged.


Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Matt Polk at Boneau Bryan-Brown (major New York theatre PR company) has worked miracles for me time and time again getting me lengthy 1:1 interviews with the likes of Antonio Banderas, Kristin Chenoweth and Kiefer Sutherland when all others were being denied. He just asks me to be patient and keep as many avenues of time open for him as possible and he then makes magic happen. It’s a great example of a collaborative relationship.


I hate?
Rain. Duplicity. Negativity.


I love?
Great food, Stephen Sondheim’s musicals. My family.


Reading?
Historical biographies. Just finished Edmund Morris’s trilogy on Theodore Roosevelt.


Best place on earth?
Perth, Australia.


Dinner guest?
William Shakespeare.


Hero?
Walter Kerr (New York theatre critic from 1951 to 1983).


Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Rocket Radar.


Pool or ocean?
Ocean (Atlantic preferred).


Voicemail or email?
Email, email, email. Or texts.