Francine Pullman Brokaw
Francine Pullman Brokaw is an SLC native with a passion for writing about celebrities. In her new book, Beyond the Red Carpet: The World of Entertainment Journalism, which won second place in the LA Press Club's National Entertainment Journalism Awards, Francine takes a personal look at the lives of celebs like Johnny Depp, Julie Andrews, Tom Hanks and Lindsay Lohan, and she gives an insider's view of entertainment journalism.
Francine spent the first 26 years of her life in SLC and was eager to share more about her book and job with us.
How many years of work does this book represent?
"I've been in this job for 14 or 15 years now, so this book is a combination of my experiences. I also interviewed 30 colleagues and have included their experiences. They all have a variety of careers and lots of strange encounters that are in the book as well."
What have you learned from interviewing celebs?
"I've learned that a lot of my strange encounters are not unique! You learn that celebrities will either greatly exceed or diminish your expectations. You have to remember that you are not interviewing the character, you're interviewing the person, although one time I did interview an animated character and that was interesting. We see the whole gamut of celebrities from the overly-nice and solicitous to the really rude ones. Sometimes it makes it hard to go to a movie and separate the character when I know what the actor is like."
Do you have a favorite interview question?
"I don't really like to share my favorite question because I don't want my colleagues to take it; you know a lot of times we are all in the same room and can hear each other's questions. I do like to see how celebrities live their lives outside of the paparazzi. I like to see what they do with their families and other personal things that they are willing to tell. Sometimes there is a topic I'll ask about that they aren't really willing to talk about, so I make sure to steer clear of those questions. One thing I want to say is that entertainment journalists are not paparazzi with a pencil. We are hard-working and we try to get the information that people want to hear, but not paparazzi style. We want to know about their experiences and their interests. This is an intense job and a lot of research goes into each interview. That all comes out in the book. I want to dispel the idea that we live a life of glitz and glamour. We do go to the occasional Hollywood party, but not all the time."
How do you confront challenges in writing or life?
"I just try not to let those things get me down. Physical challenges are hard, I've had cancer and those physical problems are hard to overcome. I say look for things that make you happy. Find one thing a day to laugh at. My philosophy is to just keep trying to overcome it and find things to make you happy and hopefully the good will outweigh the bad."
Advice for aspiring entertainment writers?
"Be prepared to work hard. Don't go in with high expectations because the things we see aren't the things the public sees. We see more than just the greatly lighted performances, and sometimes the job can dampen your enthusiasm for celebrities. I know one thing though—none of my colleagues would want to do anything else."
Anything else you'd like to add?
"Buy the book! No one really knows what we do. They think we go out and schmooze with celebrities, but we don't. They think that a lot of the people we interview become our friends, but that is not the case. We look at being celebrity journalists as a job. Don't look at it as getting close to celebrities because it's not the case, so if that's what you think, this is not the job for you."