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The Host of Hollywood

"ET" anchor Bob Goen's easygoing approach gets celebrities to open up.
Joel Drucker
From the Print Edition:
Sharon Stone, July/Aug 2004

It's a spring morning on the set of "Entertainment Tonight," the long-running syndicated entertainment newsmagazine. Despite the show's inherent link to Hollywood's unmatched cacophony, the "ET" set, deep inside Paramount Studios, is as quiet and orderly as a church on a Monday morning. Co-hosts Bob Goen and Mary Hart stand by a table and work their way through an inch-high stack of paper filled with the show's script.

The 6-foot-2, brown-haired Goen reviews the script for the next on-air voice-over segment, walks in front of a camera, and rattles off headlines and tidbits from upcoming stories. Big-screen blowups of this day's newsmakers appear over his shoulders: Quentin Tarantino. Charlie Sheen. John F. Kennedy Jr. Then it's Hart's turn, which includes a joke photo of Goen in a maid's outfit wielding a pink feather duster. "Now you know what Bob does on weekends," Hart informs 12 million Americans.

More updates appear, and on and on it goes. At this point, neither Goen nor Hart nor the show's producers know the order in which these bits will air. It's all part of Goen's vocational bouillabaisse of Hollywood past, present and future.

"What I do is fun, it's simple," he says.

"I want people to think it's easy. That means I'm doing my job well. All I wanted to do was have a good time," he adds. "Life's too short."

Goen heads back to his office after the taping ends. Plastered on his door are news clips from his recent wedding to Marianne Curan, the host of the Home & Garden Television show "Landscapers' Challenge." (The best man was his nine-year-old son from a previous marriage, Max. The ring bearer was the couple's dog, Stogie.)

Enter the office and it's a nice mix of order and clutter. On Goen's desk lie a miniature golf cart, a small flag, stacks of papers, a computer and a telephone. On the credenza behind it are a batch of CDs, a bag of fruit candies and assorted magazines. The bulletin board features various press credentials, photos and a personalized Father's Day card from Max. A TV and VCR sit in the corner. On one wall are photos of contestants from several beauty pageants that Goen has hosted. Framed discreetly on a post is an autographed copy of a comedy album by one of Goen's idols, filmmaker and comedian Albert Brooks, a fleeting reminder of the most edifying moment in Goen's life.

Goen settles into a chair and contemplates his schedule. There's the possibility of an interview with Denzel Washington. If the interview happens, he'll sandwich viewing Washington's spring release, Man on Fire, around a talk with his producers about which questions to ask. Hopefully, Washington's people won't schedule the interview during a taping. But this being Hollywood, there's no idea when or even if the interview might happen.

Flexibility is particularly important for Goen on one unappealing story he's covering. The "ET" co-host has been front and center for the current scandal involving Michael Jackson and has often had to fly up the coast to Santa Maria by helicopter and join the media circus outside the courthouse in hopes of obtaining a comment from the besieged pop star. "There I am, up in the sky, circling Jackson's home, [the Neverland ranch], and watching the tragedy that's come from someone who made some of the greatest music of our generation," Goen says. "It's sad, very sad."

Rather than pursue a troubled celebrity, Goen prefers those times when he can relax with an icon. "The good thing about this show is that celebrities want to be on it," he says. "They usually put their best foot forward."

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