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Joshua Maloni's top artist interviews of 2021
Joshua Maloni's top artist interviews of 2021

Joshua Maloni's top artist interviews of 2021

by jmaloni
Thu, Dec 23rd 2021 03:35 pm

Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni


For about a decade now, I’m compiled a year-end list of my favorite celebrity interviews. But as I thought about the 2021 edition, it occurred to me that “celebrity” connotes fame, and fame is fast, fickle, fleeting – traits not associated with these entertainers.

There’s no doubt we’ve come to have a greater appreciation for performers since the coronavirus pandemic began nearly two years ago. At a time when parents have become teachers, social interactions are curtailed, and Fauci is a household name, these men and women leave the comfort and security of their homes … simply to entertain us. They bring smiles to our faces – not that anyone could tell behind our cloth shields.

The people on this list have been nose-swabbed ad nauseum. They have (gasp) jumped on planes to fly all over the country. Brown M&Ms, Perrier water and purple hydrangeas have been replaced by hand sanitizers, Plexiglas and temperature probes … all for the sake of art.

That’s it.

These folks are artists.

And so, I give you my now-renamed list of top artist interviews from the past year.

Read it and enjoy.

Just make sure you do it from 6 feet away.


King of the Hill, Top of the Pops, Créme of the Crop

Amy Acker has been on my interview wish list since she debuted on “Person of Interest.” … Elizabeth Lail was insightful and interesting. … Maggie, Tim and I celebrated our second decade of “Psych”-outs. … Raine Maida has entered “The Matrix.” I think. … After working with myriad Hallmark movie stars, I finally chatted with my favorite. … Each time Joel and I speak, he has a new award. … Bitsie is brilliant as Lois Lane. … Lindsey Stirling is well on her way to sainthood. … #OneChicago is building a better Wednesday. …

I knew my first interviews of the year would be my favorite. Have you watched “Cobra Kai”? All the feels – but such a smart, modern continuation, too. So well done.


Amy Acker in "Crashing Through the Snow." (©2021 Crown Media United States LLC photo by Steven Ackerman)

Amy Acker of “Crashing Through the Snow”

From the article: “I had never done ‘Christmas in July’ before, but when they were telling me about the movie, and it's coming out in July, I was like, ‘This seems like the perfect excuse to have my family over. Let's make a big, kind of Christmas/summery dinner, and just celebrate.’ And someone’s like, ‘I want to put up a tree,’ and I was like, ‘OK, let's do it. Why not?’ ”


Elizabeth Lail as Jenny Banks and James Wolk as Joe Kimbreau on NBC's "Ordinary Joe." (Photo by Parrish Lewis/NBC)

Elizabeth Lail of "Ordinary Joe"

From the article: “On her way to the set, a viewer ‘turned around, and she was like, “Ooh, Jenny, I'm mad at you – you won't let him see his son!” (Laughs)’ Lail said of the ‘Rocker Joe’ response. ‘That was the first time someone out in the world was like, “Oh, you're Jenny, and this is what you're doing, and this is how I feel about it!” And that was really cool. It was like, “Oh, that's great.” It's great that it elicits a reaction – whether it's positive or negative. It's cool when you hear that people are invested in the story and the characters.’ ”


"Psych": Timothy Omundson stars as Carlton Lassiter, and Maggie Lawson as Juliet O'Hara. (USA Network photo by Alan Zenuk)

Maggie Lawson and Timothy Omundson of "Psych"

From the article: “It’s the most underrated coupling on TV’s most underrated franchise that has made “Psych” special.

“And it almost didn’t happen.”


Our Lady Peace (Image courtesy of Shore Fire Media)

Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace

From the article: “If Western New York has a Mount Rushmore of touring acts, Our Lady Peace is definitely etched in stone.”


Ashley Newbrough in "Christmas for Keeps." (Photo by David Astorga/©2021 Crown Media United States LLC)

•Hallmark Channel star Ashley Newbrough

From the article: “In a word, Newbrough is believable. Though having a classic movie star look, she comes across as accessible, relatable and real. Her delivery isn’t clunky or forced, but smooth and direct.

“It’s like watching a real person play … a real person.

“True love should ring true, after all.”


for KING & COUNTRY's Luke and Joel Smallbone (Photo courtesy of The Media Collective)

•Joel Smallbone of for KING & COUNTRY

From the article: “There’s so many layers of loss from last year. But one of them is the fact that, while we’ve been walking through so much socially and racially, politically, spiritually and beyond, that we haven’t had the chance just to link arms and rub shoulders with people who look different, or think different, or act different from us. And that’s partly the function of live shows. You set aside your differences for a minute; you came together because you love that song, or that band or that comedian, whatever it was; that church service. And so, to get back to that, I think it’s really important for all of us, really, as a human race, to get back to this live presentation.”


“Superman & Lois” star Elizabeth “Bitsie” Tulloch as Lois Lane. (The CW Network photo)

Elizabeth Tulloch of "Superman & Lois"

From the article: “Ultimately, the main goal – and why we would hopefully be on air for years – is people fall in love with the characters and get really, really heavily invested in the relationships themselves. And this show seems to really be more about that. When Todd Helbing sat down to dinner with me and Tyler to sort of pitch his idea for it, it was more of a ‘Friday Night Lights’ with elements of Superman and Lois Lane, but it was always really more about the family drama.

“As actors, that was really appealing to us.”


Lindsey Stirling (Photo credit: Sydney Takeshta)

Lindsey Stirling

From the article: “Lindsey Stirling, who has more music video views than McDonald’s has customers, is a gold-medal do-gooder. In fact, her list of charitable endeavors is higher than a double-twisting, double-backflip.”


Tracy Spiridakos, LaRoyce Hawkins and Jesse Lee Soffer of "Chicago P.D." (Photo by Maarten de Boer/NBCUniversal)

•#OneChicago stars Jason Beghe, Marina Squerciati, Jesse Lee Soffer, Tracy Spiridakos, Patrick John Flueger, Amy Morton and LaRoyce Hawkins (“Chicago P.D.”); Brian Tee, S. Epatha Merkerson and Nick Gehlfuss (“Chicago Med”); Taylor Kinney, Miranda Rae Mayo, Kara Killmer and Jesse Spencer (“Chicago Fire”)

From the articles: “Fans were cheated episodes, but certainly not intensity, last season on NBC’s ‘Chicago P.D.’ and ‘Chicago Med.’ ” …

“Whether it’s working feverishly to save someone’s life, running into a burning building or protecting the innocent, first responders are among the most heroic people on earth at any given ‘normal’ time.

“Just imagine, then, how much more difficult it’s been to be a medic, firefighter or police officer in the past year – with the coronavirus lurking behind the bushes.”


Sam (Mary Mouser) turns to Daniel (Ralph Macchio) to rediscover her strength. (Photos courtesy of Netflix © 2020)

•The stars of "Cobra Kai": Xolo Maridueña, Mary Mouser, Vanessa Rubio and Courtney Henggeler

From the article: “Just like the three tenets scrolled across the dojo wall suggest, ‘Cobra Kai’ struck first, struck hard, and showed no mercy when it debuted on Netflix in 2020.

“The further adventures of Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi (in spirit) vs. Johnny Lawrence and John Kreese (in the flesh) shot to the top of the streamer – which was a remarkable feat, considering the series had a less-than-favorable start when it debuted on the less-than-successful YouTube Red in 2018. But with more people at home last summer – voluntary or otherwise – and sweatpants the new universal dress code, comfort was key. Television was a basic necessity, and nostalgia a treasured friend.

“To that end – and like a knight in shining armor from a long time ago – ‘Cobra Kai’ was the hero we were dreaming of. It provided all the feels for fans of John G. Avildsen’s 1984 film and its Okinawan-set 1986 sequel, while also presenting a fresh take on ‘The Karate Kid’ characters.”


It was a pleasure to speak with you. ...

Live concerts returned – mostly – and Western New York was fortunate to have some fun shows over the warmer-weather months. … I met two rising stars destined for decades of success. … “Edge-of-your-seat” was taken to new levels with a trio of my favorite shows.


Lauren Alaina starred in the Hallmark Channel feature "Roadhouse Romance." (Photo by Luba Popovic/copyright 2021 Crown Media United States LLC)

Lauren Alaina

From the article: “The best thing a finalist on ‘American Idol’ can do is … lose.”


Fitz and the Tantrums performed this summer at Artpark.

Fitz of Fitz and the Tantrums

From the article: “I mean, it was amazing and challenging and horrible – it was everything,” Fitz and the Tantrums frontman Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick said (of the 2020 lockdown). “You know, because on the flip side of not getting to do what I love every day was that I got to be home with my kids. This is the longest I'd spent at home in 12 years. So, there was something really magical about just being in my kids’ life every day; waking up with them, putting them to bed every night.”


Danny Gokey (Image courtesy of Merge PR)

Danny Gokey

From the article: “After entertaining millions of people for months on end, Danny Gokey found himself where most reality television music stars end up post-screen: without a record deal.”


Caroline Jones (Image by Tyler Lord)

Caroline Jones

From the article: “Fireworks are bright and brash, exploding in a moment of grandeur, and resulting in ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from entertained audiences.

“But that’s all they are, really: a flame that bursts onto the scene and flickers out just as quickly.

“At a time when so many musicians are desperate to become the reality TV version of fireworks, Caroline Jones is building a foundation for success that will far outlast her peers’ 15 minutes of fame.”


Hannah Kerr (Image courtesy of Black River Entertainment)

Hannah Kerr

From the article: “Getting married at the start of a global pandemic is not conventional, but then so many events in Hannah Kerr’s life have not been conventional.”


Romany Malco, Adam Swain and Christina Moses on "A Million Little Things" (ABC photo by Jack Rowand)

Romany Malco and Christina Moses of “A Million Little Things”

From the article: “ABC’s ‘A Million Little Things’ made a mark in its first two seasons as the place for a dynamic mix of drama and comedy – not to mention some of the most intense episode-to-episode cliffhangers. Of course, when a show is built on the premise of a group of friends coming together to grieve a suicide among its ranks, you know it’s not afraid to tackle tough talk.”


Matty Mullins (Image courtesy of Black River Entertainment)

Matty Mullins

From the article: “You would expect the quintessential, Good Friday-dropping, Easter anthem of 2021 to come from this tatted-up dude, right?”


Brothers Osborne (Photo by Natalie Osborne/courtesy of Q Prime)

John Osborne of Brothers Osborne

From the article: “Conceptually for this record, we wanted it to reflect our live show the most – more so than our other records. We wanted it to really reflect a Brothers Osborne live show, because that's what I feel like we do best, out of our skillset. And the complete irony of the situation is that we ended up not playing them at all. We played one show in 2020, and it was a private party, and it was a wedding. And, believe me, it was the most fun that we had all year – it was the only show we got to play.”


J.R. Ramirez as Jared Vasquez on “Manifest.” (NBC photo by James Dimmock)

J.R. Ramirez of "Manifest"

From the article: “When the passengers of flight 828 returned home from what should’ve been a few-hour flight, they learned five-plus years had passed. Their plane seemingly disappeared, and they were presumed dead.

“If that wasn’t enough, these passengers suddenly had ‘callings’ – premonitions of something they had to stop or fix, or else face consequences.”


Beth Riesgraf in "Leverage: Redemption." (Amazon Studios photo by Alfonso Bresciani)

Beth Riesgraf of "Leverage"

From the article: “Feeling trapped by evil, episodic television?

“IMDb TV provides ‘Leverage.’ ”


Olivia Rox (Image courtesy of Scoop Marketing)

•Olivia Rox

From the article: “At this rate, Olivia Rox might take over the world.

“Only 22, she’s already a singer, performer, actor, show host, journalist, change agent and aerialist. …

“Plus, she does a mean Galileo impersonation.”


Stephen Stanley (Image courtesy of Kingdom Bound Ministries)

•Stephen Stanley

From the article: “Actually, before the pandemic, I played a little bit around like the Southeast. But this is like my first time traveling with a band and playing music live – my own music live. So, everything’s very, very fresh and new. … I don’t know what’s good, what’s bad. I just know I’m having fun.”


Josh Wilson (Image courtesy of Black River Entertainment/Merge PR)

•Josh Wilson

From the article: “Josh Wilson’s fans know he can play as many as 20 different musical instruments during any given concert appearance. …

“But they probably were surprised to learn just how prophetic his words could be, as the events of last year unfolded.”


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