Thursday, August 21

Behind the Scenes at ET Canada with Cheryl Hickey

I first interviewed Cheryl Hickey, host of Entertainment Tonight Canada, three years ago, when we talked about (among many other things) her almost two-year-old son. Now Jaxson will soon be turning five, and has a little sister Nyla, born almost sixteen months ago.

Busy mom Cheryl recently welcomed me behind-the-scenes at ET Canada, and when we first met in person she was undergoing what she calls the "restoration process" with makeup artist Anne, while working on her laptop and talking on the phone. (I told you, busy.)

As we chatted (full interview at the bottom of the post), Cheryl proceeded to do her own hair, which surprisingly is the norm. “I have someone come in twice a week to give me new ideas but I really like doing my own hair! My mom used to perm and cut and do all that stuff – she wasn’t a hairdresser but she did it – and I kind of find it relaxing and I prefer to do it myself. I do have Donato Spa come in to give me ideas, and they colour my hair. I’m not a real blonde – shocking, right?" she jokes.

While all this was happening, co-host Rick Campanelli popped in for his own makeup session (he thought he noticed a pimple, and Cheryl quipped that it would be appropriate, since he seems to be reverse aging like Benjamin Button!) The two then took a moment to review Taylor Swift's new video (Shake It Off) in order to discuss it later on the show, as publicist Natasha looked on in the background.

(Random note: Executive Producer Sholeh Fabbri also stopped by and said hello during our chat, and I had to restrain myself from going into audition mode. You all remember this audition, right?)

Next, it was into Cheryl's well-stocked wardrobe closet, where she selected her outfit for the day (maybe my jumpsuit inspired her?) As she gave me a mini-tour, she pointed our her family photos and artwork, which I paid more attention to once she clarified that it was actually her artwork - she likes to paint in her spare time. (She gets credit for the painting you can see on the shelf in the photo.)

While Cheryl headed to do some voiceovers for the day's show, I took a moment to snap a pic of this poster, showing Cheryl and Mary Hart, the original hosts of their respective ET programs.

I then met Cheryl on set, where all of the TV magic happens. A couple of surprises for me:

  • The show isn't live (I knew that part), but while I envisioned it being taped in sequence, with the hosts watching the clips/interviews, in fact they do their bits in no apparent order, and don't view the other portions of the show while on set. (I thought I would see the whole content of the show while I was in studio with Cheryl, but only saw the portions where Cheryl and Rick were speaking.)
  • Despite the fact that the show is taped early in the day, they prepare for last minute events: Cheryl taped "We begin now with breaking news." (serious voice) and "We begin now with breaking news!" (happy voice) intros just in case.

Cheryl's look for the day (thanks to ET Canada for this pic)

A quick beauty tip from the set: Cheryl recommends Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs for covering up any blotches, pale spots or varicose veins before going on-camera. "All the stars use it!" 

She also demonstrated that if you stand on set like you normally would, you look like a slouch. She then modeled the proper "meeting the queen" stance, which I have been trying to imitate from that moment on.

Since returning from mat leave (when Nyla was six months old) Cheryl has been working part-time so she can spend the afternoon with her little ones, so by 1:00 she was wrapping up and ready to head home and put her mommy hat back on.

You all know how much I love my behind-the-scenes experiences, and I had lots of fun on the set of ET Canada...and learned a ton about how the show is put together!
Now, as promised, here's my one-on-one with Cheryl!

I’m going to start off with the most burning question from my readers: what are your beauty secrets?

Well, I think it all begins with water, water, water. Then good skin care: washing, exfoliation. I had a lot of pregnancy mask after my son and then a bit after my daughter, so I was going for some photofacials and things like that and also I use sunscreen every day. I did some damage when I was 16 like we all do but now I’m good about wearing sunscreen. A good serum is always important. I love Elizabeth Grant and their Vitamin C creams. I also love SkinCeuticals. I use Jane Iredale every day for skin care and makeup because it’s all natural and it lets your skin breathe. There are a few things I use and I dance between them because as you know if you just use one your skin gets used to it, so I go between Elizabeth Grant, SkinCeuticals and Jane Iredale.

Any opinions on the cosmetic surgery debate? 

I think every woman should do what they need to do for their bodies. I am not going to stand up on a pedestal and say “you can’t do this, you should do this”. I think childbirth does amazing things to the body and what a woman chooses to do afterwards is her decision. It’s her body. In terms  of being a mom, I think you do what you need to do.

Do you feel a pressure in the TV business to keep looking young? Is that something that stresses you as a TV personality?

No, it doesn’t stress me. Maybe it would if I didn’t have the perspective I do, with someone in our family fighting a degenerative disease. My mom has MS and I watch what happens with her and I think we’re lucky to get to age. Is there a little more spotlight on me in television? Absolutely. I gained 70 pounds on the show and I lost 70 pounds on the show...twice! There were days when I felt extremely self-conscious and vulnerable but that’s the beauty of being a woman – the gift and the curse. I’ve had days where I’ve thought “Oh, I have all these blotches and I’m sticking out everywhere!”, but I can’t sweat the small stuff when I watch what’s happening to some other people I know. Plus I have the magician here {gestures towards makeup artist Anne} so really I’ve got a leg up over what most women get! I’ve got great lighting, excellent cameramen and an amazing makeup artist so it’s really nothing to do with me!

What do you do to keep fit and in stay in shape?

I have two kids! I have a toddler and a four-year-old with more energy than you can imagine so right now my physical activity revolves around theirs, which is very physical! When that subsides a bit I will get back into Pilates and the things that I like to do but that’s my fitness right now.

So your son is heading into year 2 of kindergarten?

Yes. Full-time this year, but we made the controversial decision to send him part-time last year {Ontario has a new full day, every day Early Learning Kindergarten Program}. It was not a popular decision but it was the decision we made as a family. When he started school he was three. I understand what the government is doing and they want to help parents but my guy was not ready to do his own shoes and zipper and be responsible for eating and drinking on his own. He was three and that was still a mommy’s job, so we made the decision that he would be part-time and it was a great experience for him. He loved it.

Is back-to-school a big deal at your house?

Yes, I finished all his back-to-school shopping last week. He’s picked out his Transformers backpack and lunchbox and thermos so everything’s organized and ready to go!

Any tips for making the school day run smoothly?

Schedule. When kids are in school – and I’m not on a soapbox because I’ve just had a JK-er, what do I know? – but what works for our family is a consistent bedtime, good nutrition, no sugar before bed, and a positive attitude about a school year. That really helps. If I’m excited about it, he’s excited about it. Being organized is important, getting your back-to-school shopping done before everything’s picked over. Letting them make choices too. He picked out his backpack and everything to get excited and have some ownership.

You had a little piece in Today’s Parent recently {she and co-host Rick took on opposite viewpoints of trampolines for their "Debate" feature}. How did that come about?

Our publicist, Natasha, handles these sorts of things and she came to us with this idea. Rick and I have fun debating things – from Taylor Swift and her latest song to parenting. We both have different ideas and different perspectives, plus he’s a dad and I’m a mom, and our kids are different ages but this opportunity came up and we went for it.

Is writing something you’d like to do more of?

Well, I’d like to but my plate is pretty darn full! {At this point Cheryl shared a *big* secret project she’s been working on that I can’t tell you about for another few weeks...but I promise I will then!}

(Because of course I needed a photo on set!)

You’re active on social media, and I’m curious how you handle the negativity that comes your way?

I read it, I understand it, I respond to the ones I need to and I move on. Really I can count on my hand the number of negative comments I’ve received so I guess I’m lucky. There was one woman who didn’t like my outfit for a whole week and thought I had a bad choice of wardrobe and I respect that. Sometimes I hit it and sometimes I miss it, and that’s on me.

Most stations show ET and ET Canada back-to-back. The news is the news, so how do you ensure that the content isn’t going to be repetitive for viewers?

We start the day with our morning meeting at 9:00 where we run down the entire list of options for the day , and they have a discussion with everybody about what else ET is having, so there are times we overlap, but the conscious effort is to make sure we put our touch and Canadian spin on it, whether we take the story further with an expert or with someone else who can speak to it.

What about when a big story breaks, like Robin Williams’ suicide?

The scheduled lineup has to change for sure. With that particular example, we were already packaged and the show was in bed when we got the news, so for the next day everyone started to make phone calls and make sure we had our experts ready and everyone goes to the wall and gets it done.

I’m not expecting you to name any names, but can you give any examples of bad celebrity behaviour you’ve seen at junkets or in interviews?

I always find it fascinating why people want to know the bad stuff...but I guess I understand! I’ve never had a bad celebrity. When I do an interview, it’s agreed upon. They’re there to promote a movie and I’m there to do my job so they would be shooting themselves in the foot if they decide not to play ball, so for the most part people are professional.

Who’s still on your list that you’d like to interview?

I really want to interview Kate Hudson and her mom at the same time. I love what Goldie Hawn is doing with mindful parenting and teaching mindfulness. I think it’s so important in this society where we’re so plugged in with Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, it’s reminding people how to communicate again and giving parents tools on how to engage their kids in this era. I love what she’s doing, and I just love her positive, free-spirit attitude. I’d love to sit down with the both of them.

I was also a huge New Kids on the Block fan – still am – and every time there’s an opportunity to interview them I shy away from it because I don’t want to ruin my “thing”. I was in love with Joey McIntyre. Everyone had someone. So I haven’t done that yet, and I’m hoping this year for our 10th anniversary I’ll be able to interview them. I’ll take my sister and my best friend and turn it into a thing!

I’d love to interview Michelle Obama too because I find her really interesting. Betty White. I love her! Melissa McCarthy is my funny lady, who makes me ugly laugh.

As hosts, do you argue over who gets what interview?

No, because we don’t get to decide! They know us by now, and what makes us tick, and who we’ll gel with so they make those decisions. It's also based on what we have going on with our lives. The show is very family-oriented.

Do you have to travel much for ET Canada?

I used to travel a lot, but now I’m mostly in studio. I travel when they have a big interview and they want me to go. When I was pregnant I wasn’t travelling much because I was large!

You have TIFF coming up again very soon. Does it ever get old, covering the Festival year after year?

No, because it’s always different. Who’s going to be here, how we cover it, the interviews, the movies. It’s all different. The one thing that remains the same is the fans, because they’re such educated movie-goers in Toronto. They really know film, and I think the stars know that, because they say it in interviews. It’s exciting, and a time to get extra-glammed up and interview some exciting people. I’m excited to maybe interview Jason Bateman this year. Love him!

Thanks, Cheryl! You can find Cheryl on Twitter, and of course catch the entire ET Canada gang weeknights on Global. They'll be celebrating Season 10 beginning September 2!


Sally said...

I can't believe I waiting to read this post. It is so cool! I was really impressed at her parenting views, especially regarding sending her child to school part time (might be because I have made the same decision...). It is so nice to see these Canadian celebrities as mothers and humans who just have a job like you and I. Thanks Kate for opening up this world that seems so far out of my reach.
Plus, I have to say- holy crap she does her own hair? That is really amazing. I dig the jump suit, nice on both of you ladies! And you used the word junket in the interview. I'm not even sure what that means in the tv world but it sure made you sound brilliant!

Allison said...

Fabulous!! You will have to demonstrate the meeting the queen pose . All of these behind the scenes interviews are so entertaining and give the hosts a human side!