“I almost can’t believe it, but I can totally believe it,” Ross Mathews said of his new E! TV show. “I think I was the only one who believed it for a long time.”
Those quotes go perfectly with the title of his book, “Man Up!: Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence,” which Mathews was signing as we chatted at the Mall of America.
“It starts September 6, on Friday nights paired with ‘Fashion Police.’ It’s all about me and fans. I love pop culture; I’ve always celebrated pop culture. I wanted to make a show where people who loved it could come and say, ‘I love it, too, Ross.’ It’s going to be really interactive. When I have a guest on the show, the audience can ask questions, just like people from across the country.”
Although being edgy has worked pretty well on E! for Chelsea Handler and Joan Rivers, Mathews said his style will be much more gentle. In a not-so-gentle moment for my startribune.com/video, the camera got jostled when Mathews hugged me.
Q Are you too sweet and lovable to do a celebrity pop-culture TV show that will grab attention?
A You think you need to be snarky to hold an audience? I don’t think you need to, and I can tell you why. I guest host for Chelsea when she’s not there, and the ratings are through the roof. They have a thing they call minute-by-minute ratings, and they go up every episode. People want to laugh. And I think in order to do snarky, you have to do it really well. A lot of people have come and gone trying to do what Chelsea does, because they don’t do it as well as she does. I want to do what I do. I’ve done it on the round table since Day 1 of ‘Chelsea Lately,’ and it’s really resonated. I think that’s why I guest host, why the numbers hold when I do, and I think that’s why I got my own talk show.
Q Not all celebrity behavior is praiseworthy, so how are you going to handle those matters?
A An interesting question. A lot of people look at what Amanda Bynes is doing and say she’s a crazy dumb [b-word]. I won’t do that. I’ll say, ‘Honey, you better get it together, and I’ve got to take you to a wig shop. ’Cause if you’re going to be crazy, let’s get you a better wig.’ I never come from: ‘She’s stupid.’ I come from: ‘I LOVE her! You’re better than this.’ What’s sad is, there she was in a courtroom with police officers and a judge and nobody got her help; that’s really sad if you want to break it down.
Q Will you make sure that Pete Carroll takes good care of Percy Harvin?
A I willlllllll! God, I love that! You know that I’m a Seahawks fan. I know exactly what you’re talking about, and I’ll tell you this year the Seattle Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl!
Q I see your Seahawks in Super Bowl 2014 while the Vikings, well, we’ll have to see if Christian Ponder shows up to play.
A It’s happening this year, [with] the team that we’ve assembled — offense, defense — like I’ve had anything to do with it; that they have; I feel like I’ve been a fan for so freaking long, I have something to do with it at this point. But what I love most about achieving whatever I’ve achieved is that the Seattle Seahawks follow me on Twitter! They sent me a care package. They had Pride in Seattle this weekend, and the Seahawks twitter logo was a rainbow with a Seahawks helmet on it and #Pride. Isn’t that amazing? That’s a professional football team.
Q When Jay Leno goes off the air at NBC, will you be able to go on David Letterman’s CBS show?
A [Sustained laughter] I have no idea. I don’t think they’d book me. It’s going to be something when he signs off for real this time.
Q Would you rather not have Howard Stern ask such personal questions?
A I don’t care. I’ll talk to Howard Stern about anything. I listen to him every day. I love him. When you go on his show, you kind of have to be an open book.
Q In your book “Man Up,” you said you learned how to swear like a trucker. String together a few for me. I want to judge how convincing you sound, because I don’t believe you talk like that.
A I do talk like that. I’ve earned the right to talk like that. I learned from my father how to swear RIGHT and how to string it together for optimum effect/affect. I use it like karate. I bring it out when it’s needed.
Q What makes you swear like a trucker?
A A good joke.
Q ‘Hello, Ross’ is what fans say to you, but what do you say when you meet Diana Ross?
A Oh my God, I would love to meet Diana Ross. I’d say, ‘Hello, Miss Ross if you’re nasty.’ It’s a Janet Jackson [reference].
Interviews are edited. C.J. can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.”