Interview: Greg Hernandez

He's covered business at the Los Angeles Times, the film industry for The Hollywood Reporter -- and since 2001, he's focused on both.

He's covered business at the Los Angeles Times, the film industry for The Hollywood Reporter -- and since 2001, he's focused on both. As entertainment reporter at the LA Daily News, Greg Hernandez covers box-office trends and DVD release parties, profiles celebrities, and live-blogs awards shows. Hernandez also authors two daily blogs, Out in Hollywood and Hollywood Joe.

PRWeek: What are your feelings about the current state of the entertainment industry?

Greg Hernandez: As far as the industry goes, I think this is as an exciting a time as it's ever been. There are just so many new things going on, you know, creativity [is] following. And the public appetite for entertainment is endless.

PRWeek: How have you seen the industry change over the past few years?

Hernandez: You know how we used to just open the TV Guide and we'd have three choices? I think what's changed is consumers have a lot more power as to what they're going to see, [and] they can chart their own kind of schedule. And the studios and networks, they are paying a lot more attention now to what viewers like. They know that viewers will drop them like a hot potato if it's not good … It's all about the product and the quality of product, and the thing that changes is how people watch the product

PRWeek: You've seen the newspaper industry change a lot, too, over the course of your career. What are your thoughts about that?

Hernandez: I think [the LA Daily News] has been very innovative, especially online. We have 40-plus blogs, we have all kinds of interactive kinds of things: photo galleries and videos. We're really trying to move with the times as well as continue to put out a good print product.

PRWeek: Tell us about your Out in Hollywood blog.

Hernandez: I started Out in Hollywood in the summer of 2006. Basically it's a queer-eye view of all things entertainment. And it has been so popular – it's the most popular [LA Daily News] blog that's not sports-related. That kind of surprised everyone.

PRWeek: Why do you think it's been so well received?

Hernandez: Because it's friendly, it's not shocking – it's just a focus on things of gay interest, whether it's gay character on a show or in a movie, or an actor, that kind of thing … It has a big gay audience, but it also draws a lot of women, it also draws a lot of mainstream viewers.

PRWeek: Has it stirred up any controversy?

Hernandez: I've never gotten any negative response, believe it or not. I was expecting to and waiting to -- I started covering gay [entertainment business] issues in the paper 5-6 years ago, and I‘ve always expected a big outrage factor. And we haven't had it. But I would welcome more controversy. It would just make me more determined to keep doing what I'm doing.

PRWeek: What do you think about the kind of mainstream exposure gay characters are getting these days, in movies and TV shows?

Hernandez: I think that TV's really forging the way on that, especially ABC. On Ugly Betty, they have several gay characters, they have a transsexual character. Desperate Housewives has a gay character and [recently] introduced a new gay couple. So those two shows have really led the way. And Brothers and Sisters probably has the best gay character in all of network TV: Kevin Walker played by Matthew Rhys. ABC is almost single-handedly helping America along.

Also a big deal are the performances of TR Knight on Grey's Anatomy and Neil Patrick Harris on How I Met Your Mother – both are Emmy-nominated, they are gay in real life and they've come out – it helps. But there's still such a long way to go, in terms of just having it not matter at all.

PRWeek: How do your relationships with PR professionals and publicists affect your work?

Hernandez: PR plays a really crucial role for me, as long as the PR company knows what I do and doesn't waste my time. If somebody hasn't pitched to me before, if I haven't gone to their events, if I'm not familiar with them, it's very important for them to become familiar with our newspaper and our online site – be aware of what we're doing and what we're not doing -- before they cold-call … I need people to do their homework if they expect any kind of a response.

PRWeek: What do you look for in a PR pitch?

Hernandez: If it's anything box-office related or has to do with a movie theater in terms of special programming or film festivals, I want to know about this. If it has to do with celebrities -- a party, a profile, someone [who has] clients they want to plug to be interviewed, that's great. Especially if it's an indie film, I really have room for that. I like to put people out there who don't get a lot of exposure.

It's [mostly] about people doing their homework: that will really go a long way. When people call and they know what you do, and they pitch something you can just take right away – it's the start of a beautiful relationship.

Name: Greg Hernandez
Outlet:L.A. Daily News
Title: Entertainment reporter
Preferred contact method: greg.hernandez@dailynews.com
Web site:http://www.dailynews.com/
Out in Hollywood blog:www.insidesocal.com/outinhollywood/
Hollywood Joe blog:www.insidesocal.com/hollywoodjoe/


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