Elaine Lui

Your blog, Laineygossip.com, gets over a million unique visitors a month. How do you play that off your other job, as a reporter for eTalk on CTV? Laineygossip has always been about cutting through the bullshit and presenting an informed analysis of celebrity. eTalk took a chance on a blogger who isn’t safe, but I also know not to bring the same snarkiness or bitchiness to eTalk that I do to my blog. It’s prime-time TV, and you gotta know your audience. And being associated with traditional media gives me incredible access. I was the only blogger on the first line of the red carpet at the Oscars. Same with the Junos, Cannes, TIFF, Superbowl.

How do you get celebrities to open up when they’ve heard it all before? Matt Damon joked about it, saying, “Forget torturing terrorists—just send them on a junket and ask them the same questions over and over. After two days they’ll tell you anything.” But journalists have publicists breathing down their neck, too. I had a great interview with Megan Fox. I asked her who’s a better kisser, Shia LaBeouf or Amanda Seyfried , and she really wanted to go there. Her publicist jumped in: “She’s not answering that question.” Megan looked at the camera and said, “Well, I guess I can’t think for myself.”

Vancouver used to be a haven for celebs, a hideout. How has that changed? For a long time nobody here cared about Hollywood. People in L.A., New York, London, and Toronto gave me tips. In Vancouver it was hard. Now restaurants issue press releases when celebs dine there. I think when Twilight came along, Vancouver lost its shame. This franchise activated a crazy gene. That said, if a celebrity wants to hide, it’s very possible. That’s why Halle Berry likes it here. Nobody ever knows when Johnny Depp is in town, and he’s frequently here. But he has the resources and inclination to stay very private.

We’re losing productions now to places like Alberta and Ontario because of better tax incentives. How’s that affecting our film industry? Major features, TV movies of the week, sci-fi shows—I worry we’ll lose it all. Yet B.C. refuses to budge, which is a shame because we have great momentum right now, especially with Twilight based here. As annoying as the Twihard fans are, I get several dozen emails every week from fans all over the world coming here who want to know where to stay, where to eat, and, of course, where to look for the Twilight kids. It’s like a built-in PR arm for the city. Paparazzi shots get distributed all over the world, promoting us.

What celebrities have really surprised you? I criticize Tom Cruise a lot, but when he came to eTalk no one had a bad thing to say. He shook everyone’s hand and never broke eye contact. What you don’t want is for celebrities to be ordinary. When Jennifer Lopez is in the room, she brings it. Same with Brad and Angelina. They have this amazing chemistry, and you watch it and it makes you horny. Lisa Kudrow was awful at TIFF, just a bitch. One-word answers in a horribly snarky tone. All the journalists reported a terrible experience. Joaquin Phoenix once ended a two-minute interview by practically lighting a cigarette in my face, then rushing off to the bathroom. He was a wreck—hungover, jittery. Really unprofessional. We’re both there to do a job. The shitty part of his job is doing media. So what? Everyone has a shitty part of their job.