by Ronald Sklar
The busy entertainment journalist applies old-fashioned family rules to excel in the digital age.
Ben Lyons gives Jennifer Lawrence of The Hunger Games as a prime example of how he aims to be the best in the biz.
“When a movie like that comes out,” he says, “Jennifer Lawrence will do 500-1000 interviews, if you add them up over a month. But for someone like me, it’s like, how do I stand out? How do I get them to give me a genuine answer?”
Fair questions for this entertainment journalist, who is currently on-camera for Extra and working for Russell Simmons’ hot website, The Global Grind. It’s in his blood: his grandfather was the legendary Leonard Lyons, whose man-about-town New York Post column, “The Lyons Den,” ran for 40 years and 12,000 columns. His father is the respected film and theater critic Jeffery Lyons.
“I learned from my dad the value of research,” he says. “It’s by doing your homework and being professional and honest, to ask that one question that [celebs like Jennifer Lawrence] are not going to hear anywhere else. They’ll stop for a second and they won’t give you the stock answer. It’s just being comfortable and honest in the moment. A good way to do that is by doing your homework. I really pride myself on that, to be the most prepared and the most well-researched person at the interview.”
He was born and raised in New York and was a fanatic for sports and hip-hop. And, of course, movies.
“I grew up in a house where movies were respected and revered,” he says. “I would want to watch the latest Adam Sandler movie, but Dad would say, ‘that’s fine, but let’s watch a Hitchcock movie too.’ So, I grew up as a normal kid watching what normal kids do, but at the same time falling in love with Hitchcock and Coppola. I was watching a lot of stuff that probably a lot of kids wouldn’t look out for.”
He calls LA his home base now, where he has taken up the very un-New-York-like golf. And yet, he’s learned quickly that these days, the job is on the road. He just returned from the London set of the new Ron Howard movie, Rush. He’s also produced a short film called Alekezam, about jazz icon Hugh Masekela and his son, which is being featured at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Yet, although times and technology change, Lyons stays true to the beat and the high standards of his famous grandfather.
“I try to conduct myself by the same moral code,” he says. “It’s very difficult to do in 2012. [My grandfather] won the trust and confidence of a lot of people. He didn’t out people. He didn’t report who was drunk or on drugs. I’m the same way. Your personal life is your personal life. I care about your work. I know a lot of these people socially, and I don’t share secrets. The climate for celebrity journalism and the expectations have changed dramatically.”
At the same time, he works hard to keep it real, as in not Hollywood phony.
He says, “If I go into every interview saying, ‘your movie is great,’ then my word is bullshit, and nobody respects that kind of person. Actors know often when a movie isn’t good, and if I’m honest then people respect that more so than hearing what they want to hear.”
|#1 © 2012. Courtesy of Ben Lyons. All rights reserved.|
|#2 © 2012. Courtesy of Ben Lyons. All rights reserved.|
Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 19, 2012.