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Posted at 11:46 AM ET, 12/18/2008

Interview Tips for the Media-Challenged Celebrity

When Liz wrote last week about Fran Drescher's political aspirations, the first thing that came to mind was "worst interview ever."

This is always my first thought whenever Drescher's name bubbles up from the celebrity swamp, because Tony Kornheiser burned it into my brain. Drescher did a spot on Mr. Tony's radio show in 2007 that could be described as a train wreck, except that train wrecks at least end quickly. It's not just the pat answers, the clear disinterest on her part in what Tony's saying, the frequent misunderstandings ... the woman actually has trouble operating her phone at one point.

Drescher has since become a running joke on the show -- a guest may be bad, but at least he or she wasn't "Fran Drescher bad." Any mention of her will send Tony into a sputtering diatribe about how terrible she was to interview.

In my day job as a booker and producer of online discussions, I've sent hundreds of questions from average readers to a wide variety of well-known people. Some were awesome to deal with (John Hodgman, Cal Ripken); others, not so much. With this in mind, I'd like to offer our celebrity overlords some do's and don'ts about giving good interview.

-- Even if you're doing 10 interviews a day, remember your audience. Do not spend 45 minutes describing the plight of Bosnian orphans to a Morning Zoo Crew in Milwaukee.

-- The best way to sell your new movie, book or whatever is not to repeat its title over and over, but to be interesting.

-- Don't be defensive. Have a sense of humor and try to engage in an actual human conversation.

-- Avoid canned answers. Put yourself in the shoes of you viewers/listeners/readers. Prepare for the interview by putting some thought into how you might entertain them.

-- When in doubt, flash the host.

Do you have nominations for worst celebrity interview ever, or more interview pet peeves? Leave them in the comments below.

Guest Celebritologist Paul Williams produces online discussions for washingtonpost.com.

By  |  11:46 AM ET, 12/18/2008

Categories:  Celebritology 101

 
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