LOS ANGELES Canadian radio and TV personality George Stroumboulopoulos is hoping to bring his own style of conversation to CNN, with a new weekly late night show premiering on Sunday that will feature well-known figures in and around Hollywood and pop culture.
Stroumboulopoulos, 40, rose through the ranks of local radio and youth-oriented music channel MuchMusic before landing his own long-running syndicated Sunday night radio show and "George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight" talk show on Canada's CBC television network, discussing entertainment, politics and culture.
His new show on CNN, named "Stroumboulopoulos," will kick off on Sunday with Keanu Reeves, Martin Short and Wiz Khalifa, before moving into a regularly weekly slot at Friday 11 p.m. EDT through till August.
Stroumboulopoulos talked to Reuters about fitting in with CNN, asking tough questions and having a 17-letter last name.
Q: You're coming into CNN in the post-Larry King era, alongside Anderson Cooper and Piers Morgan. How will "Stroumboulopoulos" fit in?
A: I want to complement what is already going on. News channels have always had interview shows, but we need different kinds of interviews with different kinds of interviewers, interviewers who bring different life experiences to the table. I'm excited just to be a part of that and have really good conversations.
Q: Did you speak with (CNN Worldwide President) Jeff Zucker on what he was looking for with your show?
A: He said he wants a show that's different. By bringing me in, he wants the kind of show that I do, that starts the conversation that I have.
Q: What topics are you hoping to explore with your guests?
A: We're focusing on all kinds of life experiences. I'm an unscripted interviewer. I don't have a set list of questions ... I don't do it that way, it really is that type of exploration. It's kind of a reckless approach in that it could go horribly wrong and that's fine too.
This isn't serving the concept of celebrity, that's just not interesting, this isn't like the 60s where you have these gigantic human celebrities and counter culture celebrities, it's not like that anymore, everybody's famous ... I'm looking for conversations that will be meaningful with people that want to have meaningful connections with an audience. To get there is by being open and fearless and I think that's what we're going for.
Q: Many celebrities and well-known figures will often put restrictions on what they want to be asked. Will you adhere to these or will you ask the tough questions?
A: Of course I'll ask tough questions but it depends on what one considers tough questions. I don't do gossipy interviews because I don't think that helps, I think that's a distraction. I do ask questions that they don't want to answer, but they have to answer them, and if they don't want to answer then we're not the show for them. There's a lot of great places for people to go where they can control the conversation. We're not that show. I want this to be a grown-up conversation.
I've interviewed Hillary Clinton and President (Jimmy) Carter and they didn't have any restrictions. So if they didn't have any restrictions - and (Carter) had to deal with a hostage crisis - no one gets restrictions.
Q: Your show timeslot is Friday night at 11 p.m., and you'll be up against late night talk shows. Does that worry you?
A: If you're home on a Friday night, you want to watch something interesting I think. If you've had a long week, it's a nice place to decompress, that's what we want to do. The other reality is, that's only for the people who want to watch Friday night at 11 ... I don't come from a comedy past so I do a different kind of thing; my conversations come from the place of a curious broadcaster.
(Editing by Eric Walsh)