GS: I think that the fact that we're back at 11:30pm doing that show, as well as the show at 7:00pm, has been a big development for me and is very exciting. You're right, the show has evolved a lot, I think maybe even too much. We always try to do different things but I think that it's not always the best move to constantly change stuff. There are things that I can't do at 7pm because it's only a 22 minute show and I don't have the time, so I wanted to bring back those things that were missing: the debrief; the news of the day, things like that. Going back to 11:30pm gave the opportunity to do that and I think that has been the best development so far.
Doing two shows a day is a lot of fun, with the same team and the same budget. Getting a second show out of the same group has been an interesting experience because it's a lot of work but we're all up for the challenge and we all like it.
tV: You obviously do a lot of research on the guests that you have on your show. Has anyone completely surprised you with something you never expected?
GS: Yah, all the time. The thing with the research is, everybody has access to the same information out there. You just hope that your team has a couple of inches they can dig deeper into that well. Ultimately what happens is you take that research and you have to make connections. Maybe that leads to a question that some people haven't thought of, then you ask it and their response triggers your follow up question. It's in that follow up question that you are surprised because you can never be prepared for that response because you don't know how they're going to volley back and how you're going to return it. I get surprised all the time.
It's when I'm not surprised. Even if the interview goes really well and people are really happy, the guest likes it and our team likes it, if I wasn't surprised during it I'm not overly enthusiastic about the interview because I want to be surprised. I don't want answers that I already know, I want to find out stuff that I don't know. If I'm learning stuff, then the audience is as well.
tV: Is it a good guess to say that those are your favourite moments in the show?
GS: Yah, for sure. I love it when they say something and my head's like “What? You did what? What do you did ...what?” I like that kind of stuff.
tV: You recently did a tour with Oprah.
GS: Yah, seven cities.
tV: She is the queen of interviewers.
GS: The queen of everything.
tV: How was that? I mean, you were in charge of the interviews but this is Oprah.
GS: You know, It was interesting because Oprah is a very open, thoughtful person but not overly nurturing, so you have to work for it. She knows how to tell stories but she expects you to go get it and I really enjoyed that experience because you can play it off of somebody who is as experienced as she is, as beloved as she is. I'm the visitor in that room, right, me, her, and 18 thousand people. It's a thing to be in that room and look around and go, “Wow, who knows how this is going to go”, but it was fun.
I like being around somebody like her, who has the energy that she has. I learn from people like her. You can learn from anybody about life, but the craft of how you conduct yourself on air, how you answer questions, how you use the language, how you stop, all those little craft things in our business, you son't get to be around people like her too often at that level so I enjoy picking that stuff up.
tV: Besides Oprah, who is one of the most interesting people you've spoken to?
GS: President Carter was amazing. Margaret Atwood is an incredible person to talk to: very interesting, very thoughtful, very funny, very mischievous, she's got a lot to give. Margaret is also one who has it but you just have to go get it, and if you dig deep enough she'll start to tell you stuff that will blow our mind (laughs). I really enjoy talking to Margaret. Ian Rankin, the crime writer from Scotland, I really enjoy talking to him. I like people who aren't afraid to look at life for its good and bad and then just move it, right into the heavier parts of their story because if someone comes across too polished, it's boring: then you feel like you're part of the press release machine which is so unsatisfying as a human being.
tV: So people who are a lot more real.
GS: Real and brave. Brave doesn't always mean strong or confident. Most brave people aren't confident: they're terrified of what the result will be, and I understand that, we all are. But brave enough to say, “Let's bring it. You want to go here? Let's go.” Woody Harrelson was like that. He's an interesting guy. Michael J. Fox is maybe the greatest, actually, when I think about it. You're having an epiphany every two minutes with Michael J. Fox, that's how good he is at communicating what he thinks (laughs).
tV: He has a wicked sense of humour.
GS: Oh, yah. And then he's got the obvious Parkinson’s reality that he talks about in such a philosophical way, but you know it's a real philosophy for him, he really applies it. It's pretty special.
tV: With all the interviews you've done, is there anything that makes you nervous?
GS: I don't think I get nervous. I get anxious when I'm watching my favourite hockey team lose, but I don't think I get nervous anymore. I know that I'm shy, and I know that I used to be even more shy. I'm excited when things are building behind the scenes to go on TV. If I'm about to go, not on our show but on a big live event, there's a little bit of anxiousness that sets in which is not anxiety at all.
I don't think I get nervous anymore. Sometimes when I'm on my motorcycle really fast and I get into a turn I get a little nervous, but that's about it.
tV: You have a Christmas special coming up on December 24th.
GS: Yes. Michael Bublé is making an appearance, Blind Boys of Alabama, Commander Chris Hadfield is going to perform a song that he wrote with his brother, which he hasn't played on television before. Nikki Yanofsky is going to play, Blue Rodeo is going to play. We have this really cool Hip-Hop collaboration with a bunch of Country stars and Hip-Hop stars doing a classic Run-DMC song.
I like the idea of gathering on Christmas eve to just chill out with the family. That's what's going to happen.
tV: What does Christmas mean to you?
GS: Christmas is a pause. Even Twitter and Facebook are slow around Christmas. People are paused. We don't have much of that in our everyday life. By our own design we choose not to live in a paused life. You know that week between the 23rd and the afternoon of the 31st? It's the quietest week of the year and the most beautiful time of the year for me. I just sort of lay there at home: I read, I clean, I cook, I mellow out, I don't really check my phone. Anyone who really needs to reach me knows where I live. I like the idea of a pause so I look at the Christmas eve show, for those who don't go to midnight mass, as kind of a celebrating your own life, and being paused for a moment.
tV: Is that your ideal Christmas?
GS: Yah, pausing. Just chilling with my mom, my uncle, and my sister, and listening to good music. I have a really small family. There are only eleven or twelve of us in the whole group. I only have one side of my family that I know: my mom's side. We only really ever see each other on holidays and big events but it's kind of like, we live our lives then we meet again, then we live our lives then we meet again, and we all know each others' story really well.
I was there when my first cousin was born and I was just speaking at his wedding two weeks ago, and it's nice that it was that small. So to chill with them; my uncle picks up a guitar and plays some Christmas music; we talk about Bob Dylan and Tom Waits; invariably we fight about religion or politics or something silly, which is kind of great.
What my uncle and I did it last year, and we might do it again this year, is go to midnight mass together. He used to take my grandmother (who passed away) every year. He goes and I go with him and we sit in the pews and sing carols together and that's kind of our way to be close to her.
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