By Joshua Maloni
Celebrity interviews are like Lay's potato chips: One is never enough - not for reporters or audiences.
Why? Just for that very reason: Why?
Why did you kill off this character? Why did you add an accent? Why did you take this role in the first place?
Celebrity interviews provide answers and, when appropriate, praise or dismay for particular creative choices. They are an invaluable look inside our favorite TV shows, films, books, records and songs.
But just like in "Gremlins," there has to be rules. Without guidelines, Gizmo will turn into Spike. (Remember: Never feed celebs after midnight.)
•No fanboying/fangirling allowed. This isn't a piece for Teeny Bopper, nor is it a meet-and-greet. Keep the interview professional.
•No boring questions. Do your homework and challenge the person on the other end of the recorder with interesting, provocative and worthwhile questions.
•Never accept an interview just because someone is "famous." That cheapens all of us.
Here are my 15 favorite encounters with mogwai - I mean celebrities - from 2017.
Pictured, from left, are "12 Monkeys" stars Amanda Schull (Dr. Cassandra Railly) and Aaron Stanford (James Cole). (Syfy photo by Kurt Iswarlenko)
15. Amanda Schull and Aaron Stanford of "12 Monkeys":
As the "golden age" of sci-fi continues, this is far and away the most creative series on the Syfy Channel in terms of storytelling and acting. For season three, the show provided a weekend bingefest - similar to Netflix or Amazon.
From the interview (Stanford): "I think it's a good thing, because that's the way I like to watch TV. ... This show definitely, definitely lends itself to binge-watching. Every single episode ends with a huge cliffhanger and you can't wait to find out what happens next."
"The Blacklist": Pictured, from left: Amir Arison, Harry Lennix, Megan Boone and Mozhan Marnò. (NBC photo by Will Hart)
14. Harry Lennix of "The Blacklist":
James Spader's over-the-top zaniness as fugitive Raymond "Red" Reddington makes "The Blacklist" true "Must-See TV" on NBC. But it's Lennix's FBI Assistant Director Harold Cooper who keeps Red and his merry band of miscreants from going too far (or jumping the shark, for that matter).
From the interview: "The thing I love about this show, in particular, is that there's so many rabbit holes that you can go down. If you wanted to follow any particular person's storyline for a little while, a person on the other end of it, if you went home from the office with Cooper or Aram or Ressler, it would probably be pretty fascinating."
Hollyn (Photo courtesy of Merge PR)
Though she joined the music industry a few years earlier via "American Idol," it wasn't until 2017 that Hollyn established herself as a pop superstar in the making. A Christian pop superstar, to be more specific. Not an easy feat. But with TobyMac as a mentor, and a debut album charting amongst the likes of Lady Gaga, Hollyn is poised to become a lighter, brighter T Swift.
From the interview: "I remember the night that it came out. We had a show in Lafayette, Louisiana. We were there, and my whole team - they came down from Nashville. We were all hanging out, and they were like, 'Oh my gosh, your record is No. 10.' And I was like, 'Oh, wow, on the Christian (chart)?' And they were like, 'No, on pop. On iTunes!' ... I was like, 'Oh my gosh! No. 10.' Then they went back, and we kept refreshing it. And the next morning I woke up, and it was No. 2. ... It was kind of crazy. ... Definitely surreal."
MercyMe (Photo courtesy of The Media Collective)
12. Nathan Cochran of MercyMe:
Thanks to Kingdom Bound Ministries, Western New York has become an important market for Christian music. In addition to the multiday Kingdom Bound Music Festival at Darien Lake, KB also presents large-scale concerts throughout the year. MercyMe (of "I Can Only Imagine" fame) was in town in October with a surprising new album.
From the interview: "In the middle of making that record, we all had some days that really sucked, and we wanted to address that. (New single) 'Even If' came out of us taking a moment to say, 'You know what, this isn't always going to go the way we want it to go, but even if it doesn't - even if the bottom falls out - we realize that what we've really placed our hope in is Christ.' And that doesn't change, regardless of what we're going through."
TobyMac (Photo courtesy of The Media Collective)
The godfather and funkmaster of Christian music reunited with his old band, DC Talk, for a small series of shows.
From the interview: "Just having them on my song 'Love Feels Like' on the 'This is Not a Test' record was special. It felt really special to me to get the boys back together."
10. Emerson Hart of Tonic:
One of the most underappreciated and undervalued rock bands of the past 20 years, Tonic continues to make quality records filled with well-crafted, infectious tunes. The band was in Buffalo in June to open for Collective Soul and Our Lady Peace in what this writer considered the top concert of 2017.
From the interview: "It's not that it's a daunting thing in today's world to make a record. But that's something we like to do. And there's not a lot of people out there buying records anymore, that's for sure. But I like doing things in complete thoughts. Telling the whole story."
Maggie Lawson at the "Psych" panel at Comic-Con. (USA Network photo by Evans Vestal Ward)
9. Maggie Lawson of "Psych":
Lawson was on the phone to discuss "My Favorite Wedding," a charming Hallmark movie she starred in over the summer. But that didn't stop us from talking about the eagerly anticipated "Psych" movie, which was a solid success for the USA Network earlier this month.
From the interview: "It is just like a family reunion. It feels like a warm hug. And we are having so. Much. Fun."
"Into the Badlands": Emily Beecham as The Widow. (AMC photo by Antony Platt, Patti Perret and Carlos Serrao)
8. Emily Beecham of "Into the Badlands":
Not so far removed from some of the more popular hybrid series on HBO, AMC's "Into the Badlands" is a dystopian, western-like, sword-fighting karate kick-'em-up that is really well acted and directed. In a wasteland filled with interesting characters, none is more appealing than Emily Beecham's troubled, butt-kicking The Widow.
From the interview: "It seemed like a really interesting mashup of different flavors and styles. It sounded like a really interesting show. Of course, you have the chance to do martial arts with such an amazing team, which was really exciting. And the role was very enigmatic and interesting and mysterious. It all really appealed to me."
Bitsie Tulloch as Eve on "Grimm." (NBC photo by Scott Green)
7. Elizabeth Tulloch of "Grimm":
One of the best network sci-fi shows of the past decade signed off in March. "Grimm" went out with arguably its strongest season thanks, in part, to Tulloch, and her many different interpretations of Juliette/Eve.
From the interview: "In some respects, it's kind of an actor's dream to be able to play a lot of different characters. Obviously, you want to go and test yourself, and test your boundaries and your limits and everything. And so, I really look at it as they've given me four characters: They gave me the sort of sweet, perhaps naïve Juliette; and then Hexenbiest Juliette; and then Eve; and now the hybrid."
Director Trish Sie, left, and Anna Kendrick as Beca on the set of "Pitch Perfect 3," the follow-up to summer 2015's blockbuster hit that took the honor of highest-grossing live-action movie-musical opening of all time. (Photo credit: Quantrell D. Colbert)
6. Trish Sie, director, "Pitch Perfect 3":
Sie had the enviable task of working with the "Pitch Perfect" cast, but in an unenviable realm of a third chapter. With so many lousy part 3s out there (I'm talking to you, "X-Men: The Last Stand"), it's hard making a trilogy's concluding chapter work. But Sie was up to the task, and her film has been a commercial success through two weeks at the box office.
From the interview: "I think I want to satisfy the fans of this franchise, most of all. I don't know what critics will say. I hope they like it. I certainly hope it makes lots of money - of course that's always nice. But the most important thing, I think, is for the fans to say, 'Yes; thank you. You delivered a film that felt good to us.' "
"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.": Chloe Bennet, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Ming-Na Wen, Clark Gregg, Henry Simmons, Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge. (ABC photo)
5. Natalia Cordova-Buckley of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.":
The finest free, over-the-air comic book adaptation added a new full-time cast member with the addition of Cordova-Buckley's "Yo-Yo." The actress has added needed levity to the show, while her character has been a welcome addition to a team currently lost in time and space.
From the interview: "I'm just happy that I can give that to little girls and young Latina girls that are maybe being told what I was told, which was, 'You look prettier when you're quiet.' They can see Yo-Yo and say, 'No! I can be Latina and strong.' "
"Shooter": Shantel VanSanten as Julie Swagger in the season two premiere. (USA Network photo by Isabella Voskmikova)
4. Shantel VanSanten of "Shooter":
VanSanten has shined in myriad roles in recent years: from a struggling, lovelorn business owner in the film "Love Blossoms," to a spunky beat cop on "The Flash," and Hindenburg-era reporter on "Timeless" to a now gun-toting mama-bear on "Shooter." Shantel is set to become a household name in 2018.
From the interview: "I feel really grateful. You know? I think that - that's all I've ever wanted was to just work. To find jobs that help me evolve as a human being and as an actor."
Nancy Wilson on stage at Artpark.
3. Nancy Wilson of Heart:
Wilson working on stage is a thing of beauty. She's not only one of the world's top guitarists, but also an energetic performer and the singer of Heart's best ballad ("These Dreams"). In 2017, she was touring with a side project, Roadcase Royale, and a new co-frontwoman, the talented Liv Warfield.
From the interview: "I feel that my creativity has been really sparked, and it's with these people. I think the (Roadcase Royale) album is really strong, and the fact that the Heart songs are on there, too, actually is such a great calling card for this new band, to be able to boast that we can go out and play live, and play Heart songs live, too."
Tears for Fears (Roland, left, and Curt) performed over the summer at Artpark.
2. Curt Smith of Tears for Fears:
The most anticipated Artpark concert of 2016 ... never happened. Tears for Fears cancelled, but there was a hope the band would return in 2017. Sure enough, the concert was a go this year and, as expected, Smith and Roland Orzabal were fantastic. I think they're cryogenically frozen between shows to preserve their still-spot-on voices.
Later in the year, the band released new songs as part of a greatest hits collection.
From the interview: "The more you do it, the better you get. The more professional you get; the better you play; the better you sing. Yeah, I feel like we're still getting better, which is great."
#OneChicagoDay. Pictured, from left: Yuri Sardarov of "Chicago Fire," Marina Squerciati of "Chicago P.D." and Joe Minoso of "Chicago Fire" at Lagunitas Brewing Company in Chicago. (NBC photo by Elizabeth Morris)
Living in Western New York, it's hard to interview TV talent in person, or visit show sets, for that matter. Fortunately, the networks like to throw junkets, wherein press from other cities or states can visit the worlds of top series.
The casts of "Chicago Fire," "Chicago Med" and (my personal favorite) "Chicago P.D." joined together for #OneChicagoDay in October, allowing this writer and others to get facetime with the three series' stars.
From an interview with Tracy Spiridakos: (On the arrival of her character, Det. Hailey Upton, to the intelligence unit) "She's somebody who's - she's very unapologetic. She's there to do her job. And she's not there to make friends. If something is happening, and she's not happy with it, she will stand up and she will say that."
From an interview with Marina Squerciati: "There's no two episodes that have been the same. So, it's just constantly keeping me on edge - which, in season five, is so nice."
VERY HONORABLE MENTION:
Britt Nicole, Danny Gokey, Seventh Day Slumber, Human Nature, Jefferson Starship, Jewel, Switchfoot, Jimmy Smits, Randy Bachman, Crowder, Garbage and Howard Jones