Tuesday, July 19

The Marilyn Denis Show: Behind-the-Scenes and a Momterview

Marilyn Denis' official bio describes her as "one of the busiest, most fun-loving - and quite honestly, one of the nicest people in broadcasting", and my experience last week certainly confirmed that.

I had first seen Marilyn at a taping of Cityline almost five years ago with my husband's sisters, and as a getaway this summer, we decided that we wanted to see her again on the new, appropriately named, "Marilyn Denis Show".
Photo Courtesy CTV

Everyone I dealt with at the show was truly "nice" (an overused word, I realize, but very appropriate), from the audience coordinator to security to the publicist and publicity intern. When we arrived we were escorted to a waiting area, and then at about 9:30 we were seated in the studio and given instructions: smile, clap, and act excited, none of which were problems for all of the enthusiastic women (and two men) in the audience that day!

On the lineup for our show: legendary actress Gena Rowlands (in town for a retrospective celebrating the work of her late husband, director John Cassavetes), tips for grocery shopping and food storage, creating summer planters, and updating rooms with paint. (After remarking that a coat of paint can really provide a facelift, Marilyn quipped: "And you know how I feel about facelifts! I love 'em!")

I have to say the only thing I was disappointed about that day was that there was no big giveaway! Quite often on the show the entire audience will get an awesome prize like $100 gift cards for various products and services, but no such luck the day we were there. We did walk away with a fan deck of paint swatches and some notecards from Sherwin Williams Paint.

I was impressed that Marilyn took the time for a meet and greet with the audience after the show, and this was no special media perk; she sticks around to say hello and get a photo with any and all interested audience members every day.

Marilyn, me and my sisters-in-law

After the meet and greet, the show's publicist escorted me to the green room to wait for the host...and when she walked in, she was warm and kind, complimenting my outfit and appearing honestly interested in knowing my name, and hearing about the blog and my own kids before getting started with the interview.

Now, I'm sure if I were a true entertainment reporter I would have started with "Who are you wearing?" so I could lead in to this piece with all the fashion details...but I didn't. So we'll get right to the questions!

This Mom: I asked my readers what questions they had for you, and a lot of them are still hung up on why you left Cityline. Can you sum that up for us?

Marilyn Denis: There was a company merge. CTV, at the time, bought the CHUM Radio Station, and so I had to go with them, I was part of the move. Then a year later, Rogers came in and they bought CityTV but I still belonged to CTV because I'm with CHUM Radio, so it was decided, and rightfully so, because I love radio, that I stay with CHUM-FM, and CTV wanted me to stay with CHUM-FM, and so that's what I did.

TM: I'm not interested in comparing you to Tracy {Moore, current host of Cityline}, but I'm curious--- how is "you doing The Marilyn Denis show" different from "you doing Cityline"?

MD: We're a talk show. We're a talk show - slash- lifestyle show and Cityline is a lifestyle show, and that's the difference. I think there's a lot of "how-to" on that show and we have that too because it's part of lifestyle, but we also have a lot of celebrities coming in, and we're really out in the field doing a lot of things. Tracy does her own thing because she's Tracy. No matter who hosts the show, it really starts to morph into who that person is, and their interests, and the audience that they're going after, that sort of thing. I don't know what they're doing now, but I know what we're doing. The show's named after me now so it's kind of custom-tailored to what I like and what I think my audience will like, that's really the most important thing. So it's celebrities, fun, information, you don't have to buy anything, but if you want to, we let you know where the best deal is. I look at it as a girlfriends' show, because it's like "Oh my gosh, did you see what happened on The Marilyn Denis Show today? Did you see those shoes?", "Yeah, they're $350 but I know where to get them!", that sort of thing. Also, you can take our show and lift a piece of information out and use it immediately. That's what I like about it.

TM: Your mornings must be crazy. Give us a quick run-through of how you get from home to radio show to TV show every morning.

MD:  I get up at 4:00 in the morning, and I watch a couple of newscasts, I have breakfast, I go to CHUM-FM, I barely make it for 5:30, and then I deal with - not "work with", "deal with" - Roger and Darren, and happily so. Then at 9:00 I walk across the bridge that connects the two buildings and get my hair and makeup done, get a review of what the show is that day, and then we're live to air at 10:00. Then I'm done by 11:00, I have meetings and have lunch and whatever. In the afternoons I try to work out three to four times a week around 2 or 3:00, and then I try to see or be near the bed by 8, 8:30 and once I'm in there I will fall asleep. Sleep is really important to me. It does everything for me. {Sounds like a woman after my own heart. But I don't have the 'waking up at 4 a.m.' excuse...} So that's pretty much "a day in the life".

TM: Any favourite celebrities that you've interviewed?

MD: {Enthusiastically} YES! I have a lot. Thrilled to meet Christopher Plummer. Gena Rowlands was on today, and God, she's a great actress. I don't know if people know how great she is. I've met Shania Twain before, she's always good. And you know, everybody has a story. Like Donnie and Marie, as happy as they both are, they've had some tough times. We're all real people, and they're great about sharing the stuff they've gone through. And Bradley Cooper...as much as he's stunning and wowing all the chicks, he really loves his mom. That kind of information is really really good. Another one I thought was great was Mackenzie Phillips. Through all the trials and tribulations she's gone through, she is a good mom. She's got demons, and she knows she's got demons, but she's helping people with addictions now, and boy, she loves her son. We had a great chance during commercial breaks to talk about our sons, who are approximately the same age. What you see on the show is great, the camera comes on and we have this interview, but sometimes if I have them on for a couple of segments, I continue to talk to them and I find it so interesting, it's like a little piece of them that they feel comfortable talking to me about. And people are usually very forthcoming.

Marilyn and Bradley Cooper, Photo Courtesy CTV

TM: You mentioned your son. What is Adam doing these days?

MD: Adam is in radio, and he's doing very well. He's in Western Canada. And that's all he'll want me to say!

TM: That's something I wanted to ask you, because you've been talking about him on-air all his life, and I was wondering how he feels about that.

MD: He is making a name for himself, he just doesn't want me to say anything more than that. He wants to be known for what he does, and not for being Marilyn Denis' son. He's always been that way.

TM: Has he been against you talking about him on-air?

MD: He hasn't been against it, but just doesn't want me sharing too much information. He's very proud of what I do, and he doesn't know me to do anything else but this; he was brought up in this broadcasting world. But he's also very aware of people trying to get in on things where they didn't earn it, and he wants to earn it, and earn having the doors opened for him. He's a great guy, 23 years old, he has a girlfriend, and they're having a good life.

TM: Any tips for moms, especially single moms out there like you were, who are trying to raise kids and have a busy career at the same time?

MD: I think sleep is really important. Networking and finding other mothers where you can take time trading off childcare. I have a particularly good friend who I met at the dry cleaners. I was new in the neighbourhood and I asked her if she had any children, and she had a five year old boy, I had a four year old. At that point, we connected, because mothers do that, and I invited her over for coffee and what would eventually emerge from all of that was that on Tuesdays I'd take both boys from after school until 7:00, and she would take Thursdays. So I would go grocery shopping on Thursdays, or go home and take a bath and shave my legs, I would do something for me! It wasn't about going "out". But you know how you just can't seem to find time to get to the drug store, those types of things.

It's important to find a really great babysitter, like I certainly did, after a few trials and tribulations, and I found her at Shopper's Drug Mart. I went to the pharmacist and said "Out of all the young people who work for you, can you give me two or three names who might want to do some part-time babysitting?" and what I would do sometimes is I would be in the house and I would watch the person take care of Adam and play with him and this one turned out to be terrific.

The other thing I say to mothers, single or not, is that honestly: to keep the house really tidy, and to have it looking like Canadian House and Home - though I love that magazine with all my heart - is truly a bit much. Really spend time with your kids, when it's time to spend time with your kids. The laundry may pile up, but it's OKAY!

TM: Yeah, yeah, I know I need to hear this. {Loyal readers, you were thinking the same thing about me, weren't you? Don't worry; I wasn't too proud to admit to Marilyn Denis that I have this issue!}

Marilyn and me

MD: And also, spend time with your husband. Send the children away so you can have a romantic weekend with your husband. If you spend all that time planning a girls' weekend, and you never put that effort into your husband, you're in trouble. And don't fill every weekend with having people over for dinner, just get out and do something together. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money. These little things, I can really see a difference between families that do that and don't do that, and it's pretty amazing.

We're all going to have troubles. There are a lot of expectations through magazines and television shows about how it should be, and you think "Oh, they look really together," but people in Hollywood look really together because they have a day nanny and a night nanny. Okay? They do. And they have oxygen facials every day, and they go to the gym every day, and they have a husband, and they're doing a movie. At what point are you spending time with your kids? Just know that that's the reality of it. And it's okay if you get a little heavy, don't be hard on yourself. Just be as healthy as you can, have some "me time", because that's really important. Children time is really important. Dinnertime is really important. And don't overbook the kids with soccer and hockey and dance. Pick one thing. Sometimes the kids are in hockey and they get to the next level and they've got seven games a week, and you know what? Bullshit.You're not doing that. If you're going to play hockey, you're going to play once a week, and practice once a week. That's it.

TM: Oooh, I come from a community that would disagree with you on that one!

MD: But you know what, give yourself a break. Family time is more important. I know, my community was like that too, a hockey community. I let Adam do one year like that, but then he decided "I have no time to just play!" So you know, don't overbook yourself, don't overbook the kids. And watching TV is okay, just monitor that stuff. You can't be too rigid. I'm not good friends with people who are "professional parents". They drive me up the wall. I think you have to let it be -- I hate the word "organic", but you have to let it flow. Be mindful of what's going on, and listen. I've made a lot of mistakes with Adam, and he's forgiven me, but you know, I worked two jobs because I had to work two jobs. But I was home for him after school, and his dad was great because he would take him when I had to go to bed, and take him to school the next day, because we were divorced, but it worked out well. It wasn't easy, but it worked out well. Don't forget about your mate, make sure you have some me time. Make sure the kids really play, and that you get family outings and just do something fun.

TM: How would you finish the sentence "This Mom Loves..."?

MD: This mom loves it when her son calls, which is very rare! {For those of us still at the "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" phase, it's hard to believe it will eventually come to this.} This mom really loves the man he has become, and it wasn't without a lot of hard work. And this mom loves to go get facials whenever she can, and manicures and pedicures because they make me feel good! And this mom loves radio and television.

*****

Then we took a couple of photos and wrapped up. Marilyn joked about using the word "bullshit" in the interview, I told her I would definitely be printing it. She graciously said how nice it was to meet me, I graciously offered to be on the show should she ever need me (I know, I'm generous like that. I'm not trying to spark a campaign here or anything, but if if this goes the direction of Betty White/SNL, well, really that's out of my control),  and we parted ways.

There are many public personalities out there who can pour it on thick when they have to be "on", but Marilyn comes across like the real deal. It was a pleasure.

Be sure to watch The Marilyn Denis Show weekdays on CTV; check your local listings for times. You can also find out more at The Marilyn Denis Show website.

5 comments:

Diana - Teacher Mom said...

This is so neat! I totally agree with her about overbooking kids and sticking with one extra-curricular. But that's my personal preference. Some moms seem to be able to handle a lot more than that and if it works, that's fine too.

Denise G said...

Very well done! Congrats!

Anne said...

Hey Kate!!!
I had a blast last week celebrating your birthday with you! But what girls getaways are not fun??? Marilyn rocks!
Anne

Anonymous said...

Marilyn sounds like a very down-to-earth person! I totally agree with her that you have to find the balance for you time, kid time, and hubby time; they are all equally important.
Sounds like it was a great time!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fantastic day out with the girls! I loved all of Marilyns advice and may I also compliment you on your outfit in the photos!
Krista S