Jeremy Parsons: Expanding into the digital space is an important and exciting transition especially for a brand like People because the audience is there, it already knows us, and as we’ve seen, the audience is ready and willing to quickly grab our content wherever they find it.
Cynopsis: In terms of resources and support, does being a Time Inc. subsidiary help you in any way – especially as the company as a whole has made wide-ranging efforts to expand its video efforts?
Parsons: The resources of Time Inc. brands like People and Entertainment Weekly are truly impressive. People Now has benefited tremendously from our teams’ abilities to cross over with resources to create even better content.
Cynopsis: When it comes to format, questions, etc., in how does the show different from a linear interview show ?
Parsons: Our content, like celebrity interviews, is uniquely produced to fit into our full episodes of People Now, but also catered to live as individual pieces that populate correlating articles on People.com. One of the advantages we’ve seen when it comes to booking guests is they get a lot of exposure from one interview – the Live streaming full show, the individual segments, and now even more play on the new People/Entertainment Weekly Network (People.com/PEN).
Cynopsis: How do you go about booking guests?
Parsons: The great thing about our show is that we are able to cover all things celebrity news, but we also spend a good amount of time with human interest stories. Our booking team is great at going after people who are making news or going viral, and they also, of course, field pitches from celebrity publicists who are promoting new projects.
Cynopsis: What does preparation for an episode look like?
Parsons: My favorite thing about being a host on People Now is having the opportunity to have one-on-one interviews with interesting people. Whether it’s a celebrity or not, having the chance to dive in and find out what makes a person tick is a truly fulfilling job. I work with a great team of producers to research guests. Aside from getting great content, my main goal in an interview is to have an authentic (as you can be in that environment) conversation, have fun, and have the guest walk away feeling good about what just happened. There’s nothing worse than making someone feel uncomfortable. Even if I’m asking about sensitive subjects, I never want someone to feel bad about the experience. It’s all about how you ask!
Cynopsis: In what ways would you say People Now augments the overall People brand?
Parsons: The great thing we have going for us on People Now is that the People brand has such a loyal fan base that loves the content. Our show strives to bring the pages of People magazine to life through our interviews and other creative segments, while allowing fans to engage with that content in new ways. The show also gives People’s writers and editors the opportunity to have even more of a voice to report their stories.
Cynopsis: Who have been your favorite interviews?
Parsons: I can fanboy all day about the celebrities I’ve interviewed. From Chrissy Teigen to Tom Hanks – forget the warnings about never meeting your heroes – I say bring them on! I want to see what they’re all about one on one! But one of the most meaningful, enlightening interviews I did at People Now was with the husband of Brittany Maynard, Dan Diaz. Brittany championed a “Death with Dignity” campaign while dealing with a terminal illness, and I interviewed Dan not long after his wife died as she wished, surrounded by loved ones. People tracked her story very closely, and the whole thing was simultaneously heartbreaking, but inspiring. Something about Dan’s raw emotion when I met him for the interview left a mark on me. The fact that he was channeling his deep sense of loss into motivation to continue Brittany’s cause was profound.
Cynopsis: And what have been your most challenging interviews?
Parsons: Alison Parker is the news reporter who was tragically shot and killed during a live TV broadcast. I recently interviewed her parents. It was easily one of my most challenging interviews. I think it’s because I’m a dad now, the story struck such a deep cord for me as they recounted the events surrounding her death and how great their loss continues to be. I couldn’t keep the tears from welling up.
Cynopsis: What have you got planned for the show in 2017?
Parsons: We are so excited for 2017! As our platforms have expanded, so have our opportunities to create more content. In 2016 we had our first ever People Now Concert Series sponsored by Toyota. It was a hit, and we obviously hope to bring our audience more of those types of experiences. Awareness is growing about our show and our platform – we keep seeing that stars are excited to come back to be part of it again and again!
Cynopsis: What sets People Now apart from other online entertainment shows?
Parsons: One of the most powerful distinctions between People Now and other online entertainment shows is the authority of People as a brand. We are fortunate to have exceptional, exclusive access to celebrities and their stories. Plus, our audience knows if we say it, it’s reliable.
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