So I was watching The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos last week, and I have to say, I heart George. George is my rockin', late night, news-boyfriend. For those of you in the dark, The Hour is a current-events show on CBC, hosted by the aforementioned George Stroumboulopoulos, a former MuchMusic VJ. If you are somewhat interested in news and current events, but don't necessarily have the time or inclination to watch a nightly news show, YOU SHOULD WATCH THE HOUR. The Hour is both funny and entertaining, and incredibly informative. George does interviews with an incredible variety of politicians, authors, artists, athletes and other newsmakers. Everyone from NATO spokesperson James Appathurai, to NHL player Sean Avery to Tom Cruise (yes, THAT Tom Cruise).
The interview with Cruise was a a really great example of George's work. You know how you see interviews with famous people, and hear them laugh, and joke, and tell stories, and think, 'I could be friends with that person'? I think what we actually mean is, that we'd like to be friends with them, because they tend to be funny, or interesting, or seem to share a point of view. Cruise, however, wasn't particularly funny, or interesting. He was just really normal. Normal as in not particularly eloquent or well spoken or funny, but all the same, passionate about his work and his family, and eager to share those things. George asked a number of interesting questions, about whether you can ever prepare a person for the kind of media frenzy that a star like Cruise incites, and whether Cruise's religious beliefs would be treated similarly if he were a Muslim or a Christian. And Cruise answered his questions, but not with the kind of canned, pre-prepared answers that you often hear from stars, especially of Cruise's caliber. Instead, he sounded like I do when I get asked a question by a reporter, and answer it in about 10 seconds and then continue to babble for another 30. I have to say, it was really refreshing to hear intelligent, well though out questions, and interested and interesting answers, not the usual show business shlock. If you're interested in watching the interview, here's the link.
Cruise is probably George's most high-profile guest to date, but I would be shocked if he didn't continue to snag big interviews like this one, because George is GREAT interviewer. Interviewing people is a skill, and interviewing people who get interviewed all the time is tough. These people hear the same questions all the time, and while they are pros and do their best, we often hear the same canned, preplanned answers to the same canned, preplanned questions. In addition, George doesn't play at trying to be neutral - he puts his own opinions out there, and skewers everybody pretty much equally. He doesn't shy away from asking the tough questions, but he also offers a different, original perspective. Guests on the show seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves, as does George, and its obvious that viewers are enjoying the results.
In short, you should totally check out The Hour. It's worth your time.