TV Guide Network Host Carly Steel Talks Whitney Houston & Preparing for the Oscars
The beautiful TV personality, who currently covers a number of events for the TV Guide Network, including this Sunday’s Oscars, is fresh off a gig at the Grammys, during which she had to scramble to prepare amid the sudden and tragic death of Whitney Houston.
Carly told us about her experience at the Grammys in an exclusive interview with Celebuzz. She also talked to us about preparing for the Oscars, whether or not she’ll be taking a vacation soon and what it’s like to play a reporter in films like Tony Scott’s Unstoppable.
Check out Carly’s exclusive chat below!
So, you just covered the Grammys for the TV Guide Network. Tell us a little about what happened.
It was really different from any other year. It’s actually my second year covering the Grammys for The TV Guide Network, which I co-host with Chris Harrison. Obviously, because of Whitney Houston, everything was turned upside down. We had our table read on Friday and then our rehearsal on Saturday. I was actually covering the backstage gifting suite and did an interview with Jane Seymour, and then I ran back over to a rehearsal for the red carpet. Halfway through the rehearsal, the news broke of Whitney’s passing. So, we kind of continued on with the rehearsal and then everyone had to meet and we just changed the whole show …
… So, really, we changed our whole show at the 11th hour. I was up late watching rehearsals at the Staple Center trying to figure out what was going on, and then we changed the entire script the next morning. So, it was definitely very different. We thought a lot about the tone we wanted to take, because you could either go one way or another. We kind of fell in line with the tone the Grammys were taking, which was to remember Whitney but to celebrate Whitney and not to make it feel like a memorial service, but more of a tribute to her and to celebrate her and to deal with the subject, but also to celebrate music and the artists being honored that night. So, we kind of took that tone.
Have you ever been in a situation like that before?
Not to that extent. I’ve covered these sort of stories before. With TV Guide, we also are very involved with movie stars of the past. So, when [someone like] Paul Newman passes away, we rush in and we do a live news show, a memorial on it. The next day, you come in and film a tribute, which I had to do for TV Guide the next day, following the Grammys. Same situation with Michael Jackson, when he passed away. [Whitney’s death], for some reason, I think just because it had just happened and it was so raw – it was just hours after it had happened that it just seemed to really affect everyone. Everyone was in the same kind of somber mood about it. It was just very different. I got quite emotionally involved with the story. I don’t know why. Usually as a host, you have to remain quite detached. But for some reason, there’s just something so sad about the circumstances. The Grammys is so synonymous with Whitney So, for it to happen at all is awful, but for it to happen the day before the Grammys, and for it to happen a few hours before Clive Davis’ party, which she is also synonymous with, is about to occur … just felt incredibly bizarre and surreal.
You’ll be covering the Oscars next. Are you nervous?
No. maybe I should be! [Laughs] My first live television experience was the Oscars, for TV Guide four years ago. This is my fourth year doing it. I was so nervous! I think I was sick beforehand; I was so nervous. There is something quite terrifying about live television. Now, it’s my favorite thing to do. I don’t know what it is. I think it’s sort of my equivalent of jumping out of an airplane – you have one shot and it’s gotta be right. I think I quite enjoy when it’s live. I think it’s really fun. Doing the Grammys this year with the breaking news coming in about Whitney as the show is going on, it was really such a challenge, but you do feel a sense of accomplishment getting through that and getting the information to your audience.
It’s the same with the Oscars. It’s is my favorite of all the live shoots. There’s something about the atmosphere at Oscars. Being there that’s nothing like any other show. It’s just electric. It feels very very special. Which I think is amazing, because leading up to it there’s so many shows … The Oscars just feel like the quintessential Hollywood event, and being where it’s located it, it just has that kind of feeling. In my fourth year going in, I’m definitely less nervous.
I would imagine, by the time of the Oscars, the celebrities become familiar faces to you.
Absolutely! It starts with the Critics’ Choice Awards. I do the one-on-one backstage interviews with the winners [at the Golden Globes], which is wonderful. It’s one of my favorite shoots to do, because you’re celebrating the win with the person; they’ve just gotten their award. It’s such a nice moment to be part of. Then you do start to get to know them. You’re covering the Oscar nominee announcement, and then the Oscar nominee luncheon and the SAG Awards, and all these different things. It kind of becomes this family of actors, and publicists and reporters, and you all kind of feel like a team.
Have you picked out what you’re going to wear yet?
[Laughs] That’s usually the dreaded question for me, because usually this time of year the answer would be no. When I was pulling a dress for the Grammys, I actually found my Oscar dress. Normally, I go for more of a statement dress, with sequins or sparkles, or I try to do something that stands out a little more. I found this gorgeous black Georges Hobeika dress from the Marilyn Heston showroom, which is very Audrey Hepburn, Givenchy, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and very simple. The cut of it is the just most amazing, flattering, beautiful cut! So, I actually have my dress is the long answer to that question. [Laughs]
What is your schedule like the morning of the Oscars?
The morning of the Oscars is really intense. You have to get up really early. You go into hair and makeup. You’re preparing any late-breaking news. You’re going over your lines. There’s a lot going on with getting dressed and just people coming in and out. We have a lot of guests on our show. We have Tabitha Coffey from Tabitha’s Salon Takeover. She is hilarious and amazing. Seriously, you should be working, but you end up chatting with her, because hysterical. We have Ali Landry … and Nick Verreos from Project Runway, who is hysterical. So, you put Tabitha, and Nick and Ali in a room and it feels like a party. [Laughs] You get distracted and you try to get back to work and just prepare all the information for that.
You’ve played a reporter in a bunch of movies, including Unstoppable. Do you have to audition for those roles or do you get approached to play them?
Both. For the smaller ones, I tend to get approached. For the biggest one, which was Unstoppable, I had to audition. That was a funny audition. I’m a TV host, which is a reporter, and it’s the same kind of delivery. But, this reporter is a little different, and the role in that was playing a real-life girl; when I got on set, I was actually sent a video of the real girl, who scarily looked on me, which was weird. But, when I auditioned for the director, Tony Scott, they asked me “So, you’re a news reporter?” And I sort of said “Yes.” [Laughs] I don’t know if gallivanting around on red carpets in a red carpet counts as being a news reporter. And they were like, “You’ve been up in a helicopter before?” And I hadn’t, but I said yes. [Laughs] So, for some reason I thought [the helicopter] was going to be a simulator and a green screen. I got to the set and there was a real news reporter chopper, which was tiny! [Laughs] It was, like, me sitting next to Tony Scott in the back seat with the cameraman and the pilot in the front, with the helicopter tipped at some crazy angle. [Laughs] That was fun.
I’ve noticed that your accent has faded a bit. Does it come out when you go home to the U.K.?
Absolutely. [Laughs] I have to go back to being British when I go back to the UK. Otherwise I get teased by my friends. They already call me “The McYankee,” because I’m Scottish. Any hint of a twang and I get teased about it. Here [in America], if I’m interviewing British actors, I tend to bring it out more, because it tends to make them feel comfortable and [realize] we have something in common, and they relate to that. I kind of straddle both words with the British [accent]. Sometimes, I switch back when I’m doing reports for the U.K. to completely British. Sometimes here, I do completely standard American. It just depends on what I’m doing.