Kennedy in the E! offices | Photo by WaldenPonders
So just a couple quick things: full name and birthday.
Robert Jason Kennedy, you think I'm joking? (Laughs). I'm not joking.
Nope, that's just my dad's name, Robert.
So why do you go by Jason?
My whole life I've just gone by Jason. Because my dad's...my mom really didn't wanna confuse both of us, basically, when she was calling our names and yelling at us (laughs).
So, and you grew up in Fort Lauderdale, right?
Born and raised in Florida. Grew up in Fort Lauderdale and went to college in Miami at the University of Miami.
And what'd you study there?
Double major in broadcast journalism and theater.
Did you always wanna work in TV or...what did you wanna be growing up?
(Interview is interrupted while JK speaks with SM about interviewing Julia Roberts)
So basically – you've gotta put this in your story – there's only one person who really made me nervous to interview and it was Julia Roberts and...basically...my best advice: you can't show that you're nervous about these. You just have to go in there, be confident, make sure you know all your material. Cause sometimes they'll kinda test you if you ask a question and they'll respect you and give you a good interview. Hold on...where'd we leave off?
Double major- broadcast journalism and theater.
And did you always want to be in the spotlight kinda thing? Do television?
Yep. In fifth grade my friend invited me to a local news station on a tour and I went and fell in love with it.
And I read on your E! bio that you actually set up your own TV studio?
After that day, it started with like a bedsheet and...with a few other cameras and I would, like, chase news trucks around the city and stuff. And then it turned into like a full blown ordeal, like, I had like fifteen cameras – I'm sorry – 15 TVs, 3 cameras, a news desk, lighting, the whole 9.
How'd you score all that equipment?
I was...I was recording, I was recording weddings to make a living. You can make pretty good money off of videoing someone's wedding. So I'd use that money to buy more stuff for the studio. And my parents helped me out a lot.
Even at 15.
So people were ok with hiring you even though you were a teenager and recording their weddings?
Mhm. I proved myself because I showed them other tapes and other weddings that I had done. So they knew what I was capable of, so they were like “Sure, it's a great price, let's do it!”
So what were some of your first jobs after graduating?
College. Like from U Miami.
My first job was at Diesel, the clothing store, folding jeans out here in Beverly Hills. Cause I moved here, right after college, I moved out here. And that lasted a whole 3 weeks, and then I got a job in casting at Freemantle, they produce American Idol. And after that I got a call to go on an audition for E! from my manager, went well, but they didn't call me back for 6 months. So I was doing casting in the middle of that, and then got the call and they were like “Come over to E!” and so I've been here 2 yea...over 2 years.
And how you like it so far?
Best job ever. Really stressful, lot of traveling and the hours can be long, but I'm living my dream right now.
So what would you say are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job?
Waking up early is my least favorite part about it 'cause I don't like waking up early. Favorite part is just meeting all these interesting people on a daily basis. I mean, you're on movie sets, covering premieres, you're talking to the biggest movie stars in the world and who wouldn't like that? That's a good byte right there.
So have you had any favorite interviews so far?
Will Ferrell is always fun. Let's see, Will Ferrell, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, and I gotta throw a girl in there...I can't think...
Well you said you got nervous for Julia Roberts, I mean, is that, do you get nervous in general or...?
I don't get...No. No I don't, ever. In the beginning I was, 'cause I didn't...I was like 23, it was a big deal, it was a lot to take in. So, I just kinda got it down pat after a while. Realized what I needed to do, did a lot of research and stuff, and I don't get nervous anymore. There's only maybe 1 or 2 that I'd be a little nervous, but once I start the interview I'm fine. But it's just jitters going into it, which makes you on your game a little bit. Those butterflies sometimes can be good, just like a live broadcast, that's good.
So what would be a typical day for you? How much of it is, you know, doing the actual live show versus preparing for interviews?
Well usually I get coffee every morning with Ryan Seacrest. (Laughs). I'm kidding, I never see him. Typical morning is waking up at 6 am and coming to work, morning meetings, they'll tell me my assignment, I'll go to wardrobe, get hair and makeup, go out, cover the story, come back, see if there's another story they need me to go out on, and just kinda, that's the...it's like an assembly line, that's the process.
And do you have a preference over in-studio segments versus actually going out and anchoring?
I love anchoring in the studio. Totally. Cause I mean, you're like, the anchor, that's, like, the biggest job you can have on the show. But I do enjoy also going out and talking to people.
Have you always wanted to specifically talk to celebrities or has it just been in general you'd be happy going out and talking to average Joe Schmoe's?
I like the celebrity aspect of it, but I didn't...when I was younger...I wouldn't say I just wanted to meet celebrities. I wanted to do local news and I got tired of how monotonous it was with killings and fires and disaster. And there's...I wanted something else. I mean you can't take this business too serious in terms of the material you're talking about, but I do take my job very serious and then just kinda take a grain of salt when I know we're talking about Paris Hilton's love life. It's fun.
So what...how would you define “celebrity”? Or what is your, kind of, perception of Hollywood culture?
Well according to Wikipedia...
I mean when you look at all this stuff on TV, how do you...what's your take on the whole celebrity Hollywood culture right now?
I think it's getting out of control with the paparazzi these days, especially with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. I mean it's getting to the point where it's dangerous. I've been in a situation where I was in a car with a celebrity and they ran us off the road. And I saw two paparazzi hit each other. I mean it's getting out of control.
Right. And you were also with Britney on Halloween, right?
So I mean, how was that for you? Having to experience all...you know...everything...
It was just really different being on the other side of it and seeing what she deals with on a daily basis. And I totally empathize. People say “Don't go out.” She should be able to go out. In terms of she can go get coffee, shop like a normal person. She shouldn't have to stay in just 'cause the paparazzi follow her around, she's a human being.
Any...since you are around so many celebrities like Britney and Ryan, any good dish? What's the evil truth about Ryan Seacrest? Other than that he won't have coffee with you in the mornings.
That he works really hard and I wish he gave me more hugs.
And what's it like working with Giuliana?
She's like my sister. And she was one of the main reasons I was hired here because she told them to bring me on, thought I could be a good asset. And she's so great to work with. Very talented.
Is there anyone that you haven't interviewed yet that you would love to interview?
Denzel Washington. That's probably the one that really comes to mind. I really enjoy...and Tom Hanks.
And if the tables were turned, who would you love to be interviewed by?
Any particular reason why her over anyone else?
I think she does a great job with interviews. And I'd just like to see her strategy, how she goes about getting information out of people.
Do you have a particular strategy?
Say really nice things about them over and over and over again. Nah, just being honest with them and not trying to be too invasive. You don't lead with the juiciest question in the beginning, it might turn them off. You gotta talk about their project, talk about their charity, and then squeeze in a couple questions that, you know, you need at the end.
Have you ever censored yourself? Or do you ever feel that you should censor yourself whenever asking, you know, kind of the gossipy questions?
Yeah yeah, I mean, there comes a point where you don't wanna be...I don't feel comfortable if I don't know a celebrity, I'm not gonna start asking them about...very personal questions about their relationship and their kids and stuff, but if I've interviewed 'em a couple times and I know that they're cool with it, then I have no problems asking it. 'Cause I know that's what people care about these days. So it just depends on if I've talked to them before.
And have you ever had any embarrassing moments while interviewing?
Is there something you wish you could've changed or done differently?
Thankfully, live I've never had a problem. Which is a lot...I mean E!'s one of the rare, you know, national entertainment shows that do live broadcasts, so... I'm trying to think of embarrassing...I think I was, like, interviewing a rapper once and I kept calling him Chingy and I thought it was Chingy but it wasn't Chingy. And I found at the very end it wasn't Chingy. But that was at an award, it was at a...it was just some, like, no-name dude but.... We weren't live or anything and you interview like 40 people in the aft...like during that...you know, BET Awards. I got confused.
So do you have any particular set of skills that you feel a good interviewer has? Or any tips?
Totally just be yourself. I would always would get annoyed with people who the camera would turn on and I'd be talking to you and they'd be like “So let's talk...” you know, that fake voice and just the whole fake persona? I just...you hafta be able to bring something else 'cause there's so much competition out there and you just bring a part of your personality that no one else has. And that's just being you, that's just asking questions sometimes that you personally wanna know as a fan, you gotta think about, you know, the present day issues that's happening in those peoples' lives, if they just had a baby, yadda yadda yadda, and just really think about what the audience would wanna know when you're watching it. And just...just talk to 'em like normal people, treat 'em like normal people.
So what's it like to be so young and in this business?
It's – it's..in the beginning I was afraid to tell people how old I am 'cause I felt I was too young and they wouldn't respect that, but then I was like “I'm gonna embrace this.” This is...it's a good story, I've been very blessed at a young age. These days, the industry's moving more towards younger hosts.
So even though, like you said you are fairly young for right now, if you had to write an autobiography, what would you title that?
What would I....jeez....Patience. 'Cause that's the most important thing that I tell people. 'Cause you can move out here and it can take a year, like it did for me, which is extremely quick, but there's some people who are just as good that it doesn't happen as quick, but you have to have patience. That's the one thing I always tell people.
Ok. And just random stuff. Like, favorite TV shows? Favorite movies?
Favorite TV show...Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
Miami Heat. Miami Dolphins. Favorite movies, we'll be here all day, but Home Alone, classic, just watched it last week. Meet the Parents, Office Space, I like a lotta comedies.
So what do you do when you're not workin' hard at the office? What do you do for fun?
Play golf a lot. I wax my eyebrows.
No I have someone do it. I just like..I like going...hangin' out with friends, like goin' out to a lounge and just chillin', goin' to see a movie. I'm very low key, I do not, like, I do not, like to go out-out. But if I do it's very rare. It's just not my thing. Nothing wrong with it, it's not my thing.
Let's just backtrack, just in general. What do your parents do?
My dad is the president of Comcast. (Laughs). Did you believe me for a minute?
My dad does a whole bunch of things. But for the purpose of the paper, he does, he owns Mobil Gas Stations, he does marine construction, which is really big in Florida 'cause people live on the water, and he started a company called Driver's Alert, which is “How am I driving?” on the backs of those semi trucks, those stickers. And my mom was a schoolteacher, but she's retired.
What's her name?
Renee. R-E-N-E-E. My sister, Kelly, works for the Associated Press. She's a reporter in Miami.
Does she have any aspirations to come out here?
She does. She hates entertainment. She thinks it's a big joke. Whatever.
How do your friends think of you? Like being...are they jealous...are they?
They think I'm really cool. They're like “Wow you're cool, you're on TV!” No, they're very supportive and they don't treat me any different. As long as I don't act any different. 'Cause they'll give me an ego check all the time. And I don't think I've honestly changed at all, but I just like that they treat me like they always did. But those that I haven't talked to in a long time that are now calling my phone, you know who you are. Those, I laugh at, 'cause I know why they're calling.
So, let's see, favorite music. What's on your iPod?
I like country, hip hop and gospel.
Interesting mix. You don't hear that too often.
I like it all.
Any particular artist?
I'm a huge Chris Brown fan, I think he's so talented.
And is this...what's your ultimate career goal?
I'm in the process of trying to figure that out right now. 'Cause I had a goal and..and I'm there. So I'm trying to rethink up dreams, which is not a bad thing to be rethinking at this moment. But I definitely wanna anchor full time down the road, and then see what...see what the Lord's got for me.
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