In Conversation with Michael Starr

“Top Talker” columnist Michael Starr (New York Post) visits “The Talk” on Friday, December 11, 2015 on the CBS Television Network. From left, Sheryl Underwood, Sara Gilbert, Michael Starr, Sharon Osbourne, Aisha Tyler and Julie Chen, shown. Photo: Heather Wines/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I am so excited to start the new year sharing my Q&A with Michael Starr. He is a very talented author, critic, reporter and columnist. Michael is very passionate, focused and  hard-working, which leads to him being well respected by his peers. Read on to learn what inspired Michael to get into the entertainment industry, and advice he has for those who want to succeed in entertainment. 

Michael Starr

David:

Hello Michael thank you for taking the time out to speak with me. Take me back to the moment you decided you wanted to become a reporter. What inspired you? 

Michael:

I knew that I always wanted to write, in some form or another, although I always imagined that would be as a fiction writer (in some undefined capacity — I used to write freelance movie reviews in the mid-’80s).  I never thought of a career in print journalism, but life took me in that direction — and here I am.

David:

You are also a columnist, critic and author which title do you enjoy the most?

Michael:

I enjoy all three titles, which are very different in their own ways. As a columnist, it’s nice to be able to express myself in a more expansive, opinionated fashion. I can do that as a TV critic, too; however, in that capacity, my opinion is limited to that particular series or episode and is  a bit more constricting in that sense. Being an author is a completely different ballgame, though I do try to use my journalistic background, to a large extent, in my research (tracking down information and sources, interviewing as many people as possible and reading up on my subject as much as possible). As a critic or columnist I’m usually writing on a deadline for the next day (and the same day, if it’s being posted online, which is usually the case). As an author, it usually takes me around 3 years to research and write a book (and sometimes longer).

Michael Starr

David:

What are some challenges you face in the entertainment industry?

Michael:

The competition is fierce, especially in this digital age where there are so many voices and opinions. It’s a challenge to try to stand out from the crowd to the best of my ability while retaining my “voice.” On the other hand, the Internet is a huge plus for any journalist, since his/her work can now be read by a wider audience — and instantaneously. As a TV writer/reporter/critic, the advent of different viewing platforms (Hulu, Netflix, Amazon et al.) has made it both tougher and easier to cover television –since there’s so much now available for viewers to choose from, and for people like me to write about.

David:

What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

Michael:

I really enjoy speaking to the people who are so essential to a television show (series or movie or episode) — whether that’s the person who created the project or the actor(s) who bring that work to life. I also enjoy getting the chance to interview people I grew up watching on television and who I really admire and respect. 

David:

You have written quite a few biographies. What is it about biographies that intrigues you?

Michael:

I think it’s digging into someone’s history to get “the story behind the story” and being able to chart someone’s life, both personally and professionally, and to “bring them back to life,” so to speak, if their accomplishments have faded through time (Redd Foxx or Bobby Darin, for example, whose biographies I’ve written). I also like to remind people so they know why these subjects I write about hold a special place in pop culture history. 

David:

Your most recent book is a biography about William Shatner. Why did you want to write about his life? 

Michael:

As far as I can tell, no one has ever written a comprehensive biography of William Shatner covering his life through the year 2019. He’s written many books himself — some touching on his life and career — but I wanted to “put it all together” into a cohesive, third-person narrative and to (hopefully) show the arc of Shatner’s personal life and his career, which stretches back 70 years and which, by all appearances, will continue to move forward as he nears his 90th birthday as an entertainment icon. He’s different things to people of different ages: Captain Kirk, Priceline pitchman, Denny Crane from Boston Legal…the list goes on and on.

David:

If you can go back in time, what would you tell your teenage self?

Michael:

Sharing Michael Starr’s newly released book

Don’t be afraid to go outside of your professional comfort zone and, if you believe in something — a particular book project, for example — don’t give up so easily. Push yourself. If you believe in something strongly enough — and put the work in — chances are you will see it come to fruition, sooner or later.

David:

What advice do you have for people trying to make it in the entertainment industry?

Michael:

If you’re referring to entertainment journalism, my advice would be to keep writing and reporting, no matter how big or small the project or how big or small your potential audience. Be true to yourself and play to your strong points, whether that be research, writing or expressing yourself in readable, fluent fashion.

David:

Thank you for your time. What message would you like to tell all the readers? 

Michael:

Keep reading and buying newspapers and books! 

Photos: Courtesy of Michael Starr

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