And now an interview that is a true measure of Rusty Gatenby, the former KSTP-TV traffic and entertainment reporter. Gatenby and Hubbard Broadcasting parted ways after more than 30 years a few weeks following his disclosure to bosses that he had been arrested on suspicion of DWI. It’s not a laughing matter to this funny guy, from whom I got a serious statement regarding how thankful he is to still be part of Feb. 22’s fifth annual “Dancing With the Twin Cities Celebrities” charity ball at the Minneapolis Marriott. That statement and how he measures up are part of my startribune.com/video, in which Gatenby is not wearing one of his ugliest sweaters.
Q Do you know how to let yourself be depressed, when a situation warrants that?
A Yes. I don’t like that feeling. I’ve experienced emotions recently that I never thought I would be experiencing. Even before my departure from KSTP there was stress and issues going on in my life that I never thought I would be experiencing. Now the emotion I feel is fear, every time I’m on the dance floor.
Q What did you learn from traffic reporting that changed your driving habits?
A That you never know when you could be in trouble, like black ice. People are driving at highway speeds thinking they are fine and there’s black ice suddenly their whole world goes spinning. How’s that for a metaphor.
Q Will you missing hobnobbing with Hollywood stars?
A Tough to say. My immediate reaction was yeah. Hopefully, I’ll be back. I’ll do that again. The other part of me is Who haven’t I talked to? Go through the list. I’ve talked to Paul McCartney three times. Mick Jagger. Tom Hanks. Paul Newman. How many hotel rooms can you stay in? I’m kind of OK with Let’s move on.
Q You are now kind of like the stars you cover?
A Am I? Wow. [Laughter] Meaning? arrogant?
Q What could you do next that would match what you’ve done?
A I’ve got a couple of projects I can’t talk too much bout, that would be nationwide, as far as entertaining.
Q How soon did you hear from your close personal “Modern Family” friend Steve Levitan?
A Have I mentioned that Steve Levitan is my friend? He was one of the first who contacted me, seriously. Gave me some career counseling and said he’s going to do anything he can to help me.
Q You are known to have a big ego and bighead but is it right for people to think that about you?
A I don’t have a big ego, do I? It’s OK. When I started going on camera I said “I’m just going to be myself.” It became apparent I am kind of tweaking who I am and embracing the Ted Knight elements ‘cause I know sitting at home that would be humorous, that would entertain me. So no I don’t think I have a big ego.
Q You do have a unique sense of humor. From where does that come?
A I don’t know. My dad liked to laugh and I know growing up, if there was something on TV and he laughed that got me interested. If I could make him laugh or my mom, who also has a great sense of humor, that gave me great joy. Got me in trouble in school every now and then. But even the teachers now and then would say Got to give it to you, that was funny. Now go to the principal’s office.
Q Worst interview subject?
A Victoria Principal was the worst interview I ever had. Now, she had an ego thing going on. I asked a “Dallas” question and she shut me down, right away: I’m not here to talk about “Dallas.” She was pimping some perfume or lotion. I’m like, “Look at the time, interview’s done.” I’ve had some, like my recent interview with Josh Brolin, where we just started making each other laugh. It became a R-rated interview. Entertained the hell out of each other but it never made television.
Q How many ugly sweaters do you own?
A There was a time when we were donating ugly sweaters to charity, so I’ve given quite a few away. But I have two full walls of sweaters. I was able to wear a sweater from Thanksgiving to Easter and not repeat, so I have hundreds.
Q Who do you think will win Oscars?
A I think “12 Years a Slave,” for best picture. I like “Gravity” — either one is fine. Chiwetel Ejiofor, has a strong chance at Best Actor but I believe it will be Matthew McConaughey. Jared Leto [best supporting actor]. Best actress is going to be Cate Blanchett.
Interviews are edited C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.”