Media, Darling: Shinan Govani

Shinan Govani is the National Post‘s resident snoop and people watcher. In addition to frequent television appearances and being Page Six‘s “go-to-Canadian,” Govani has also appeared in such publications as Salon, Details, New York, Fashion, and enRoute. “Shinan is to celebrity what the Bank of Canada is to the dollar,” Toronto Life once said. His beat has him meandering across umpteenth different types of scenes, in Canada and beyond, whether it’s the Art Basel scene in Miami, Fashion Week in Paris, the film festival circuit c/o Sundance/Cannes/Toronto, the society set, the chef crowd, etc. Earlier this year, he attended Vanity Fair‘s famous Oscar night party in L.A. – the only Canadian journalist to be invited inside the party.


Photo Credit: Sisi Penaloza
Website: National Post
Twitter: @shinangovani, @nationalpost


Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I can’t remember not being a media-phile and know-it-all, but I didn’t always know how it would translate into a career. Always had varied interests – including politics, culture, style, food – and the great thing about journalism, per se, is that one can minor in all those subjects at once, if one wishes. More specifically, for me, most of my interests in all subjects pivoted around the people in various tribes, so winding up with the kind of column I write is no accident. I’ve always subscribed to Jonathan Swift’s famous dictum: “Character is plot,” i.e. I believe all great stories – be they world events, or tabloid tales, or what not – come down to people. Their vanities, their hang-ups, their childhoods, their reaches for validation, etc.
I will also add that I was always the guy who’d have anxiety attacks when I passed newsstands, fretting about what I hadn’t yet read, as well as the kid with the flashlight under the blanket reading a book way, way after bedtime.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
More books, for sure (my first novel, Boldface Names, came out a few years ago). I’d like to maybe take a stab at writing biographies at some point. Also, I want to continue to give back, socially-speaking, having played in this crazy playground for so many years – continue to contribute in causes such as AMFAR (I co-chaired its annual gala in Toronto for two years, through which we raised close to two million dollars). I want to go live in Venice, Italy for a spell, but in the winter. I see it very clearly: Venice. In the winter. When the hordes of tourists have poofed, and the city is supposed to be the most hypnotic (it’s when the moisture from the sea hits the chill, creating a haze off the canals that filters the suns into variations of pink and gold). 
Also: I’d like to get around to making bread. But just once.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Read and write. And write and read.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I am a veritable Cookie Monster when it comes to media-consumption, so, in addition to many of the obvious (the Page Six-es and the Vanity Fairs) I’ll just throw a few things, at the top of my head, and in no particular order: some fun podcasts on KCRW, out of L.A., including Elvis Mitchell’s showbiz-insider, ‘The Treatment’ as well as the quite charming ‘Good Food’; Tatler out of the U.K. (required reading in my field); the weekend Financial Times (love the ‘Lunch With’ column, and David Tang’s high-larious advice column!); anything Camille Paglia or Ingrid Sischy or Bob Collacello; everything Daily Mail; the Daily Beast (much better curated than the Huffington Post); the Great Lives series on BBC4; columnists, far and wide, like Maureen Dowd, David Carr and Cathy Horyn in the New York Times, AA Gill in the London Times, Emily Nussbaum and Anthony Lane in The New Yorker, Mike Musto in The Village Voice; Arts & Letters Daily online; the Slate Culture Gabfest; Fashion Police on E! (I would never dare miss an episode!); Hardball; Rachel Maddow; the ‘At Issue’ panel on CBC’s The National; all the great aggregators on New York mag (The Cut, Grub Street, Vulture, etc); NewYorkSocialDiary.com (where the great gossipist Liz Smith still is going and writing!); Barbara Amiel in Maclean’s (I won’t even try to resist!)…NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ (I worship Terri Gross!)…AdweekSalonPolitico…Richard Lawson on theatlantic.com…Jason Gay on tennis in the Wall Street Journal…Roger Friedman’s Showbiz 411 column online…and it goes on. (Oh, how I miss Christopher Hitchens).
Special shout-out to Bon Appetit magazine, which, I believe, is the most-improved glossy, with Adam Rapport as editor. In many ways, it’s the best culture mag out there!
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Having tea with Jackie Collins, one-on-one inside the Plaza Athene in New York, was pretty nifty. But maybe ’cause it was just last month that I remember it so fondly. (I’ve been at this for a while!)
Worst?
Linda Evangelista. What a bore! Definitely proof positive that models, in most cases, lose all their power when they speak.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Plus ça change. Also: “You’re never as good as your best review, and never as bad as your worst.”e
As Good As Your Best Review, And Never As Bad As Your Worst’ –
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Oh, why the hell not?
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Bikram yoga.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
All my best experiences with PR pros have occurred through genuine relationships developed over my years of doing this. Let me be frank: in the context of a social column, it’s all about back-scratching and, well, that thing called chemistry. A press release is probably the least effective way of getting my attention. A publicist who can craft a story angle, or at least lead the horse (me!) to water with it, will definitely get my attention faster. A publicist who has given me a scoop on a matter something/someone that’s not a client, or is occasionally the source of intel, will get my attention when they need something from me! More specifically: my particular column is all boldface-oriented, so a fast-thinking PR will mould a story, or a mention, in a way that has boldface potential. In New York or L.A., when I hear from PRs, they’ll often send me the pitch, in proper paragraph form, having boldfaced the names in themselves, so I immediately get the pic. This doesn’t happen often in Toronto.
I hate?
Debbie Downers. And raisins.
I love?
People who can see and appreciate all the colours. And spicy food that makes me weep.
Reading?
Crazy Rich Asians, an advance-copy of a novel that I think is going to be huge. It’s out in June. It’s kind of like a Chinese Dallas meets a Chinese Real Housewives meets a Chinese Royal Tenenbaums. I also have a pretty interesting biography on the go: Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde.
Best place on earth?
The Maldives – primarily because I’ve never been. (The mind provides the best excursions!)
Hero?
Victoria Grayson.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean.
Voicemail or email?
Email. (Or tweet!)
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Media, Darling: Malcolm Johnston

Malcolm Johnston is the front of book editor at Toronto Life magazine. His work has appeared in Reader’s Digest, the Globe and Mail, National Post and more.  



Twitter: @malcjohnston
Website: torontolife.com


Did you always want
to be in the media?
No,
but I suppose I was always decent at putting words together on paper (there’s
gotta be a better way to say that) and eventually realized it was a natural fit.
Along the way I was a sports-camp counsellor and a house painter, taught some
ladies in Burlington how to throw a Frisbee for their dogs – for which I pocketed
a cool, tax-free $60 – contemplated law school and wrote an anti-money laundering
textbook for bank employees.


Where would you like to be five years from now?

Same place and job, but with more abbreviations after my name.

Any advice for people
getting started in your industry?
Suppress
the urge to create a personal brand. You’ll look silly. Just produce great work
and everything will be fine.

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

Best interview you’ve
ever had?
Recently?
TSN SportsCentre anchor Jay Onrait was pretty cool. We consumed numerous
“brewskis” at his local in Kensington and blabbed for a couple of hours. Very nice
guy and highly candid, which is key. Other notables: Malin Akerman.

Worst?
Scott Speedman,
TIFF 2010. He was perfectly polite; I was unprepared. Never again.

Best advice you’ve
ever been given?
“It
takes all types in this world” – my parents.

What rule(s) do you
live your life by?
Don’t
act like you’re irreplaceable.

What’s the most
important tip you can give PR pros?
For
the love of Christmas, read the publication before you pitch to it.

Best experience
you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
It’s
hit and miss. Those who aren’t control freaks / habitual hoverers are infinitely
preferred.


I hate?
Sloth—the
habit. On the animal, I’m neutral.


I love?

Baseball, coffee.

Reading?
That
too!


Best place on earth?
Laurentian
Mountains, Quebec.

Dinner guest?
My
friend Lowell.

Hero?
My
pops. He’s a gentleman, a battler and very intelligent. Ma ain’t so bad,
neither.

Favourite app (or
whatever you are downloading these days)?
theScore
Mobile; AnkiDroid, a French language app.


Pool or ocean?

Both beat winter in Canada. If I were forced at gunpoint to choose…that
would be a very bizarre scenario. Ocean!

Voicemail or email?
If
it’s a spicy scoop and you don’t want to write it down, call, and quick!
Otherwise, email, please and thanks.

Media, Darling: Briony Smith

Briony Smith is the writer and stylist
behind
The Grid’s fashion page. She was previously the fashion editor of
blogTO. Briony has also contributed to publications like ELLE Canada, LOULOU, Toronto
Life
, and glow. She recently appeared as a stylist on MuchMusic, and was named
by
Flare magazine as one of the Top 10 Best Dressed denizens of Fashion Week.


Photo courtesy of Flare, by Max Kopanygin.

Twitter: @TheGridTO
Website: thegridto.com 


Did you always want to be in the media? If
not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I still remember the day my dad told my
10-year-old self what a masthead was—and my immediate obsession with getting on
one someday! (Other careers I toyed with, believe it or not, were cop,
obstetrician, lawyer, and librarian.)
Where would you like to be five years from
now?
Writing, editing, and styling stories and
packages that make people say to their friends, “Hey, I read the best piece
today.”
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
Don’t. You will have to work ten times as
hard as everyone else, all the time. Forever. If you can handle that, and still
feel that passion for fashion, journalism, the arts? You’re in the right place.
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own? 
Vanity Fair, HBO, The A.V. Club, The New
York Times
, iwantapounddog.blogspot.ca.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
For crush factor (at the time), Will
Arnett. I behaved in a terribly unprofessional manner when I conned him into
repeating a line from a treasured Human Giant sketch.
Worst?
One musician scheduled a phoner immediately
after his dental surgery, while another actress scheduled the call during her
brief limo ride to the airport and kept barking what I should and should not
focus on in the piece. Oh, and Hawksley Workman.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
A common refrain in the Smith household was
“Life isn’t fair.” My corollary to that might be: “Failure isn’t falling
down—it’s not getting up.” Jesus, that sounds like something on one of those
inspirational posters. This quote from U.S. congresswoman Debbie Wasserman in
last October’s Vogue did, however, strike me recently: “I might not convince
you that I’m right, and I might not always win the day or be successful on
everything I set out to accomplish. But I’m never going to lose because I got
outworked.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
The usual things: Try to be kind. Smile
more. Work hard. Dress well. It’s the little things. This, too, shall pass.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
We know our fevered, last-minute emails
for products, images, and interview requests can be annoying, but super-prompt
replies are what make me really love some PR people—and loathe others.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
I cheer every time a PR gal sends me a
high-res, off-figure, on-white image just in the nick of time.
I hate?
Leggings as pants. Snobbery. Getting up
early. Sore feet. Bad TV. Bad style.
I love?
French 75s. Kindness. My friends. Work
ethic. Similes that give you chills. Trinity-Bellwoods. Great style. A
well-dressed man.
Reading?
Best place on earth?
Under the covers. Or maybe Thailand.
Dinner guest?
Louis CK. Karl Lagerfeld. Peter Kaplan. And
the Davids: Chase, Milch, and Simon.
Hero?
Roger Ebert.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?
Flixster, Shazam, and Instagram.
Pool or ocean?
The sea! It’s one of the great loves of my
life. (Full disclosure: I’m from B.C.)
Voicemail or email?
Email. Never, ever voicemail. Don’t call
me. Ever.


Media Darling: Greg Hudson

Born and raised in Edmonton, AB, where he made his mother
proud by singing and acting in many high school musicals, Greg Hudson is now
the associate editor of
Sharp, Canada’s men’s magazine. He talks to starlets and
authors, and is the one you would pitch to if you want a story in the
magazine. He’s also written for Toronto Life, Elle Canada
and
Canadian Business. He has a wife and an incredibly cute dog named
Saunders



Website: sharpformen.com
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other
careers were on the horizon? 
I always wanted to be in the media, but in high school that
meant being a subject of media. I wanted to be the first Canadian prime
minister who got his start as a world-renowned pop star. My heroes were Pierre
Trudeau and Robbie Williams.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
A place where I can look back and say, “You know, I am now in
a completely appropriate place career-wise vis-a-vis where I was five years
ago. I am therefore content.” I will say this from a bigger apartment.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Work hard. Editors—and hopefully readers, too—can tell when
you phone something in.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your
own? 
Of course, all the other men’s magazines, but also: Slate.com, TheAtlanticWire.com (I have a crush on Richard Lawson. You can tell
him I said that.), The A.V. Club.

These are shocking, considering my demographic.  

Best interview you’ve ever had?
Brooklyn Decker was surprisingly candid, when she really
didn’t have to be. George Saunders and Michael Chabon were dreams that came
true.

Worst?
Probably Amber Heard. She didn’t walk out or anything, she was
just too pretty to be at all enthused.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
I think I’ve forgotten all the advice I’ve ever been given.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
I try to treat others as though they are, in fact, real
humans. Although, I probably fall short of the Golden Rule more often than I
allow myself to admit.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
If something is personalized to me, and backed up by a sense
that they know my publication, I’m going to look for ways to help them.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
about #wins.
When I feel like I’ve made an honest connection with a PR
person, whether it’s through hilarious email banter, or the reciprocated use of
ironic exclamation marks, it’s a win. Oh, and when people can hook me up with
books, gift ideas, or samples at the last minute for silly television
appearances? To them, I silently sing Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings.

I hate?
The word natch. I hate the word natch.

I love?
Validation.

Reading?
Everyone’s life would be improved by reading George
Saunders’ new book The Tenth of December. (I named my dog after the guy. He’s
like my new Pierre Trudeau and Robbie Williams).

Best place on earth?
Shuswap Lake in British Colombia. 


Dinner guest?
Ugh. I have to make dinner now? No. No.

Hero?
See answer above, under READING.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
These are all words I don’t understand. Like favourite appetizer? I’m a fan of
various dips, I think. Or, you know, a plate of wings. Pan bread and parm dip
at Earl’s is pretty great, too.

Pool or ocean?
Neither. Lake. But, you know, a clean one.

Voicemail or email?

Email. 





Media, Darling: Wing Sze Tang

Wing
Sze Tang is the beauty and health editor at FLARE,
and has been working in magazines for more than nine years. She started out as
a grammar cop (a.k.a. copy editor) and still cares about the smallest
details. Back in her freelance writing days, she contributed to Fashion, Elle Canada, Best Health,
Travel + Leisure and Marketing Magazine. She appreciates when
people pronounce her first name correctly (hint: the Sze sounds like
See, but calling her just Wing is
perfectly cool, too).


Photo credit: Adam Moco


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

Looking back, I can see I was always
heading in this direction. Words make sense to me (numbers do not!). I studied
English at the University of Toronto, and all my “grown-up” jobs have been in
publishing.



Where would you like to be five years from
now?
My heart is in journalism. But I have a lot
of disparate interests and ideas, so who knows what the future will bring.
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
Don’t assume that being passionate is
enough to set you apart. While it’s essential, know that everyone else
clamouring to work in this business feels the same way. Work harder than them.
If you feel insecure about your experience or skills (we all do sometimes), don’t
let that hold you back; use it to drive your ambition to get better. If you
want to write, read 
 everything. Figure out what makes great writing great. And
then write. Learn from your editor.
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own? (i.e.: what do you read/listen/watch?)
I look at the usual suspects in the
fashion/beauty and health beats, since of course I keep tabs on my competitors.
Beyond that, my reading list is eclectic – everything from Toronto Life, Wired
and Gawker to The New York Times, Outside and The Atlantic. I also love the
serendipity of finding a great story via the smart people I follow on Twitter.
I have terrible taste in TV.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Hard to choose. Since I cover beauty and
health, I get to talk to lots of different people  movie stars and scientists,
makeup artists and MDs, athletes and business execs. The variety keeps my job
interesting. I love interviews that feel like natural conversations, not
interrogations. And I love getting answers I didn’t expect and learning things
I didn’t know.
Worst?
Any interview where I’m allotted a few
minutes. Or where the interviewee delivers coached or rehearsed lines.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
If you want something, ask for it.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t let fear rule your life.
Try, try again.
Be curious. Be skeptical.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
1. Know who covers what. It’s not a secret
(see: the masthead). If you email your pitch to everyone on staff when I’m the
one who handles the section, I’ll assume you don’t read the magazine. Sometimes
we get packages addressed to people who haven’t worked here in YEARS.

2. Save trees. Keep press releases short
and sweet. Some of the ones I get rival book manuscripts. But deliver the
relevant details (e.g. specifically what’s innovative/new), not fluff or
over-the-top claims. If your pitch has a whiff of B.S., I’ll doubt if I can
trust any of it (or you).

3. Be honest and transparent. If you can’t
reveal the information because you don’t know it, or you’ve given another
publication the exclusive, I’ll understand. But I’d rather hear no than wonder
why I’m getting the silent treatment as my deadline looms.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
Once, an expert source flaked out right
before my deadline and decided he was too swamped to do an interview. Without
missing a beat—in fact, within half an hour—the PR reached out to two different
sources to see if she could secure an equally appropriate alternative for me. I
interviewed one of them later that afternoon. The PR deftly turned a
near-disaster into a win, and I couldn’t have solved the problem faster myself.
I hate? 
Going to sleep. Writing the first
paragraph. Dealing with people who are bitchy for no reason.
I love? 
Sleeping. Traveling. Eating.
Reaching the finish line. Collecting lipsticks and skin-care potions. Escaping
to the movies. Hanging out with my dude and my dog.
Reading? 
I’m slowly making my way through
my Instapaper archive of long-form nonfiction articles. I wish I had time to
read more books for fun.
Best place on earth? 
Depending on my mood:
home, or far away.
Dinner guest? 
Happiness is good food with a
great friend.
Hero? 
My mom, who raised my sister and me
almost single-handedly. We’re very different people, but she taught me that it’s
possible to defy the odds through hard work and sheer will.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)? 
I’m a news junkie, so Twitter is the most addictive. I
tweet sparingly but listen all the time. (Say hi: @wingszetang.)
Pool or ocean?
I can’t swim, though it’s a
life goal to learn. Till then, you’ll find me on the beach under an umbrella, dodging
the sun.
Voicemail or email? 
Email! Fastest for
everyone. I do answer my phone, but don’t call to read me the press release.

Media, Darling: Doug O’Neill

Doug O’Neill is the executive editor of Canadian Living magazine,
where he also produces the weekly Travel Talk blog.  Doug’s career in
magazines has taken him to a slew of Canadian titles including Toronto Life, TV
GUIDE
, Homemakers, and he’s also freelanced for a variety of Canadian and
American magazines. He most recently taught “Service Journalism” in
the Magazine Publishing Program at Ryerson University.




Did
you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon?
I‘ve
always been smitten with words. Storytelling was part of my Gaelic heritage.
But for some reason, I took a detour and studied environmental science at
university. Two semesters spent mucking about swamps was all I needed and I
transferred to the English department. After graduation I made a bee-line for
the magazine world.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’d like to be in a position that
enables me to work overseas for chunks of the year. I spent seven months in
Paris in the mid-1990s and it was a daily brain-twister – and a lot of fun. A
project (long-term or short-term) that would take me to Asia would turn my
crank.
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
Follow your gut. If you have a
quirky interest, make time for it. Those signature passions are what define you. No job is 100% perfect – but make sure one part of your job is a
perfect fit for you. And play with technology, even if you’re technophobic.
New gadgetry will unleash more creativity.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including
your own? 
Podcasts: Ted Talks, CBC’s “Definitely Not the Opera” and “The Amateur Traveler.” Print magazines (in no
particular order):  Afar (travel), Vanity Fair, Geez (new age, alternative
spirituality), GourmetNational Geographic, Globe
and Mail
Focus section (and anything penned by Elizabeth Renzetti), Food &
Drink
(for the pretty pictures), Enroute and the Springwater News (the
tiny community weekly that covers my home town – my aunt buys me a subscription
each year). Digital – where do I begin? Too many to mention but a
few off the top include Tyee, Spacing,  Macleans.ca (I still can’t read
the print version but love what they’re doing digitally), Toque & Canoe,
and the social media/community sections of CBC.ca (their news packaging has
been dull of late, but some great bloggers right now!).
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Irish
singer Sinead O’Connor.  She swore, then I swore, we both swore. I swear
it was the best interview ever. We talked about religion and dysfunctional
families.
Worst?
Margaret
Atwood. I was a junior researcher at Toronto Life in the mid-1980s. Ms. Atwood
answered the phone by saying,  “So, what’s your problem?”. I was quaking in my Birkenstocks.
Best
advice you’ve ever been given?
From a former boss/mentor:
“Keep asking yourself questions. Invite your inner editor to perch behind
your ear and  then listen to him/her. You discover your best answers when
the questions come from within.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
I’d like to say I live by this
rule, but sometimes I falter. In short:  Do what you want – not what
you should. If you do as you ‘should,’ sure you could probably have a really
good job. Do as you ‘really want’ – and you’ve got an amazing career you
absolutely love.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?

Don’t
be dismayed if we don’t return your call or reply to your email right away. If
we like your pitch, we’ll definitely get in touch. It just may not be the right
moment. 
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We
love to hear about #wins.

I
worked on an intensive editorial partnership at the London Olympics sponsored
by P&G. Their on-the-ground team, Toronto-based MSL Canada, frequently used
a phrase that is pure magic to media: “Okay, Doug, we’re going to leave
you alone now so you can do what you’ve gotta do.”  H-E-A-V-E-N. They
knew when to pull back. Some PR folks tend to shadow media a little too much at
 media events and when working on projects. The MSL team were there when I
needed them, and then gave me the autonomy I required to get my story. It
worked for everyone. (Oh, and if you’re going to sit in on interviews — be sure
to ask the interviewer in advance if that is okay.)
I
hate?
#1. Mid-day PR luncheons.
 They wreak havoc on the schedule – and my tummy. Immediately after work
is so much better.
#2. Shopping – unless it’s for
kitchen gadgets and travel accessories.
#3. Small talk.
I love?
#1.When PR folks make a specific
reference to a recent editorial item in the print mag or online. It shows they
really know us.
#2. Patsy Cline. And not just
because we share the same birthday.
#2. My Bose iPod dock.
Reading?
I tend to read a few books at
once, but not all of the same genre. Currently: Linden MacIntyre’s Why Men Lie (fiction, not a self-help book!),  Rita Golden Gelman’s Tales of a Female Nomad (a travel memoir), and Naomi Duguid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavours (food meets history.)
Best place on earth?
A toss-up: Haida Gwaii off
Northern British Columbia or Southern India.
Dinner
guest?
Annie Lennox.
Hero?
Jane Goodall because she is
forever breaking the mould. And my late Dad, who single-handedly raised eight kids
on his own. He, too, broke the mould.
Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Packing Pro. Seriously, I can pack
for a 10-day trip with no stress, no fuss. I simply do what my Packing app
tells me.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean, preferably at dawn.
Voicemail
or email?
Email. 





Media, Darling: J. Kelly Nestruck

J. Kelly Nestruck is
the theatre critic at The Globe and Mail, and has been so since 2008. His
writings about the arts and theatre have also appeared in such publications
as the National Post, the Toronto Star, Toronto Life, The Boston Globe and The
Guardian
. He has appeared on
The National, been heard on CBC Radio’s Q, and tweets all the live-long day
@nestruck.

In addition to work, Nestruck is currently pursuing a Master’s from the Centre
for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto. He
likes to garden, cycle around the city, and the J stands for James.

Photo credit: Catherine Farquharson.


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

No – when I was five, I wanted to be a firefighter. But from my teens on, my
twin passions were theatre and newspapers. The newspaper business seemed like
the wiser route financially at the time…


Where would you like to be five years from now?

I prefer to go where life takes me, but I’d be happy to still be here doing
what I’m doing now. It’d be nice have a kid to take to Young People’s Theatre.
Or at least a dog to take to Young Dogs’ Theatre.


Any advice for people getting started in your industry?

Have you considered the skilled trades?


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

Theatre-wise, I love to read all my competitors at the Toronto dailies and
weeklies, plus online voices such as Lynn Slotkin, Stage Door and the
Charlebois Post. Scott Brown in New York Magazine; Chris Jones at the Chicago
Tribune
; the whole theatre package in The Guardian. I subscribe to the NewYorker and The Onion, listen to This is That and Q on CBC Radio, and watch The
Bachelor
and Dragon’s Den. I read Garth Turner’s blog every day to get over my
renter inferiority complex.


Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?

Best – playwright John Mighton in 2004. His pet rat Cookie escaped and I got to
watch him scramble around with his daughter to catch it.  Worst –
playwright Michael Frayn. I accidentally unplugged my computer with my foot
while interviewing him over the phone.


Best advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t go to journalism school.


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

I do not have a body; I am a body.


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

Add your theatre openings to my online calendar: cantheatre.wikispaces.com.
I can’t keep track of emails any more.


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

Ann Swerdfager at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is a real delight to work
with – and I have to work with her a lot, so thank goodness!


I hate?

Stickers. They creep me out.


I love?

Seeing a show I loved find an audience.

Reading?
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain


Best place on earth?

Mount Royal when the leaves turn.


Dinner guest?

Christopher Hitchens, RIP.


Hero?

Nick Auf Der Maur, RIP.


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

iAnnotate” is the reason I own an iPad.


Pool or ocean?

Ocean.


Voicemail or email?

Oh, email PLEASE.


Theatre show in the fall season you’re most looking forward to?

Alligator Pie at Soulpepper!