Variety reporter Elizabeth Wagmeister has the kind of pleasant delivery that must make it easier for an interview subject to entertain tough questions.
She seems edgeless on “Page Six TV” as she helps the New York Post’s gossip column, Page Six, leap off the page and into your abode on the show that airs locally on Fox 9+. But listen closely and you’ll hear Wagmeister deftly get to the crux of matters. Wagmeister, Page Sixer Carlos Greer and Bevy Smith, of the defunct but hilarious “Fashion Queens,” debate the gossip and play celebrity games in front of a live audience. The show is anchored by John Fugelsang, broadcaster, satirist, a must-follow on Twitter.
Q: When you were on Fox 9 with Jason Matheson, you said you don’t want to make fun of celebrities. Are you starting your TV show in the right frame of mind?
A: I don’t know if I said we don’t want to make fun of celebrities. I think we were talking about a different topic. We are definitely going to make fun of celebrities. Here’s the thing: If you are in the news and you’re a public figure and your name is out there, by all means we have the right to make fun of you. This doesn’t just mean celebrities, [but] real estate, politicians, businessmen, especially in the world of New York where we are shooting “Page Six TV” and where the New York Post and Page Six are printed. In the world of New York, there are all these bigger-than-life personalities, people with a lot of money, kind of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” We are definitely making fun of you, but not in a mean-spirited way. We’re here to laugh with you and sometimes at you.
Q: Are you continuing to work for Variety while you do this TV show?
A: I am. I’m really lucky. I just moved to New York from Los Angeles, but I am lucky Variety has an office in New York and we have a great staff there. I’m even luckier the studio and the office are five blocks apart; I can walk right there. I’ll be covering red carpets, writing for the magazine and breaking news.
Q: Have you read New York Post gossip doyenne’s Cindy Adams’ book?
A: I have not, but I will.
Q: What’s the last party you crashed?
A: Crashed?! C.J., don’t you know we’re invited everywhere?
Q: Who has always eluded you as an interview subject?
A: OK. Since we’re in the world of celebrities, one that I have never interviewed is Britney Spears. And I’m OK with that because she was actually one of my idols when I grew up, and you know that thing where if you sometimes meet someone it ruins it for you? I don’t want to give it that chance. And I would have loved, loved, loved to interview Prince. I’m a huge Prince fan.
Q: Do you have any advice for R. Kelly?
A: [Laugh followed by serious look and] No. There’s no advice I can give him that can fix him. Everything is alleged, but if the alleged incidents are true, there is no advice I can give that will help.
Q: Variety is kind of starting at the top of the heap, isn’t it?
A: I didn’t start there. Actually, I started pretty near the top of the heap. I was lucky. I started my career at TV Guide magazine in New York City. I was there for a few years. After that I went to Hollywoodlife.com, which is Bonnie Fuller’s website, celebrity gossip. That’s where I learned about the gossip world.
Q: Do I have to worry about Bevy eating your lunch and Carlos’, too? She seems like the Alpha of this cast. (Now that I have seen Fugelsang’s demeanor, it should be noted he’s no pushover either.)
A: [Laugh] Bevy is the nicest woman, and, I have to tell you, the most supportive woman. I’ve always really appreciated when women support other women, and you don’t see it all the time in this industry. Even in just a few years I’ve seen women who haven’t supported other women and I just don’t get that. I was raised by a mom who worked full-time and was always supportive, and I have worked with some awesome women. Bevy is the most supportive and the most fun, and we couldn’t be more different. We have a live studio audience. You’ve got to come to the show.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.