Focusing on Labors of Love This Labor Day

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“I love my job,” says Margie Barron, who enjoys interviewing such luminaries as Tom Hanks.

Some people labor away at jobs they don’t enjoy. I am not one of them. I enjoy being an entertainment journalist, for almost thirty years, getting a chance to mingle with interesting showbiz folks and writing about them. I wouldn’t trade the experience for any other job, but don’t think it’s all schmoozing with the stars at Hollywood events.

There’s dedication involved, focus, effort, deadlines to meet, and certain skills that are essential to get the job done. But as a wise man said, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

To understand what it takes to cover the Hollywood beat, there is the great new book, Beyond the Red Carpet: The World of Entertainment Journalists by author Francine Brokaw (check out francinebrokaw.com). It is not a celebrity tell-all or an industry exposé. Instead it is a behind the scenes look from an interesting perspective.

“It was a labor of love because I wanted to set the record straight that entertainment journalists are not paparazzi with a pencil,” says Brokaw, a journalist for more than twenty years. “We are in the trenches, working on good stories, doing research, and that sometimes gets overlooked.”

Brokaw hopes her book is an eye-opener for people to understand some of the experiences that entertainment journalists have. Some are wacky; others are embarrassing moments during the reporters’ unfiltered encounters with the celebrities. Some famous names are mentioned, and others you can guess about. It is a fun read thanks to Brokaw’s personal stories. About 30 colleagues were also happy to talk about their strange, rude, fun, etc., moments.

Among those sharing anecdotes is George Pennacchio, the wonderful entertainment guru for ABC7 Eyewitness News, and so skilled at getting the best out of the stars during the Oscars, Emmys, and the classiest red carpet events around town. Others reporting are Rick Bentley, with the Fresno Bee; Julio Martinez, with VIP Latino Magazine; Howard Benjamin, Interview Factory Radio Networks; Jacqueline Cutler, Tribune Media Services; and David Sheehan, Hollywood Close-Ups. All have covered the entertainment beat for a long time. And I also shared some stories about how I got started; misconceptions about the job; and my funniest interview question.

Brokaw says there are many more stories waiting to be told, maybe in a follow-up book depending how well the public embraces the first edition of Beyond the Red Carpet.

There’s another book from an entertainment journalist I admire. Michael Maloney, contributing editor to Soaps in Depth, has The Young and Restless Life of William J. Bell: Creator of The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful just released in hardcover. Along with Lee Phillip Bell (Bill’s wife of 50 years), Maloney co-authored the literary Valentine to the inspiring story of the late great Bill Bell, who became a legend in the soap opera world.

Tremendous research and wonderful stories reveal that Bell’s life had as much drama as the soaps he created, wrote, and produced. David Hasselhoff, a Y&R alumnus, wrote the foreword. Daytime royalty Bill and Susan Seaforth Hayes shared their memories, along with many great actors such as John McCook, Eric Baeden, Susan Flannery, and Jeanne Cooper.

When Bell received his Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1992 Daytime Emmy Awards, he accepted saying it was exciting to create stories and characters “with whom countless of millions of you in the audience have become involved. Characters you’ve welcomed into your home each day. Stories of families and relationships, romance and conflict, with people you love to love, or love to hate, characters who have captivated you for whatever reason.” And now Maloney’s book has created a great portrait of the man behind the daytime dramas.

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