Interview: Claude Brodesser

Longtime Variety film reporter Claude Brodesser has broken out of the rank and file of print journalists to host a new talk-radio show for NPR affiliate KCRW in Los Angeles called "The Business." (The show will soon be picked up by WNYC in New Yo

Longtime Variety film reporter Claude Brodesser has broken out of the rank and file of print journalists to host a new talk-radio show for NPR affiliate KCRW in Los Angeles called "The Business." (The show will soon be picked up by WNYC in New Yo

Brodesser takes audiences inside Hollywood for an intimate look at dealmaking, deal-breaking, and the incomprehensible logic that rules the entertainment business. In addition to a roster of studio executives, directors, and producers, he has landed high-profile guests like former Attorney General John Ashcroft and Leon Panetta, discussing topics from Disney's legal troubles to the ethics of marketing to Oscar gift bags.

PRWeek: How was it making the transition from print to radio?

Claude Brodesser: It surprises me every time they tell me I have to stand in front of a microphone and say something. I didn't have any experience in front of a mic. I'd done one piece for Marketplace before, and that was on Iraqi paintball. I had no business doing "The Business."

The studio places a big bet on you, giving you time on the air. And not at 4am, but at 2:30pm, when people are driving back from having had lunch at The Grill. And we're basically saying we can give you a half-hour of thoughtful, irreverent dialogue with top dealmakers, filmmakers, moguls, and agents. Unlike in a news organization where there is a hierarchy and an editor and a point of view, here I have total editorial freedom and autonomy to do whatever I want.

PRWeek: What do you cover?

Brodesser: We're always looking for interesting business features. That is, show business companies, producers, or actors who are doing things against the grain. Hollywood is a very unorthodox kind of business and it really allows people to make up their own rules as they go along, provided that they are willing to make the movie fit the paradigm of 13-year-old boys who want to see breasts and violence. I say that with the tongue firmly planted in cheek. But I think this is a business where creativity is actually encouraged. You must be creative to get your film made.

PRWeek: Are there any kinds of stories that you won't cover?

Brodesser: What I'd hope never to be pitched on is "so and so has been nominated for a Golden Globe. You can talk to them for five minutes." This is not Entertainment Tonight. This is not "The Treatment," in which filmmakers talk about the craft of filmmaking. It's "The Business," and it's about how show business works.

That's not to say we're not interested in actors, writers, and people who are in the creative community. We're very interested in them, in fact. We're not celebrity-averse. Morgan Fairchild came on the show, but she came on to talk about the Screen Actors Guild.

PRWeek: Being new, have you had any trouble convincing people to come on the show?

Brodesser: I think there is a lot of respect for NPR. They know it's going to be thoughtful discussion and that you're not going to have to interrupt them every six seconds to sell diapers or beer. The idea that I would be talking to the attorney general of the US is a little surprising. He's ostensibly got things to do. It's a testimony to the audience.

Name: Claude Brodesser

Outlet: Variety and "The Business" on KCRW radio

Title: Host and film reporter

Preferred contact method: cbrodesser@reedbusiness.com or thebusiness@kcrw.com

Website: www.variety.com and www.kcrw.com

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