For affable online host Rick Yaeger, there are no wasted questions and no wasted answers.
Yeager, creator of One Question Interviews (onequestioninterviews.com), has come up with a catchy talk-show format that – wonder of wonders – actually allows celebrities to discuss projects they need to talk about, while still allowing fans a sense that they’re getting to know their favourites on a friendly, down-to-earth level.
It’s also a highly cost-effective project for the graphic designer and self-confessed “tech-junkie” – basically a series of split-screen skype conversations (presented with reassuringly professional graphic and editing work) that allow Yaeger to work from his own South Surrey living room, and his interviewees to respond from wherever they happen to be comfortable.
The cheerful, bearded, bespectacled Yaeger is upfront about the gimmick in his intro to each 10-minute segment.
It is, he says, “the show where I get the golden opportunity to talk to a celebrity, and then I waste it on some totally random question.”
It’s a hook that Yaeger says his guests – ranging from Julie Benz of Defiance, to Vanna White of Jeopardy to Paul Wesley of Vampire Diaries – seem both intrigued and intimidated by.
He has, as he says on the show – brandishing a stack of pre-printed cards – “a thousand questions ranging from the profane to the profound.”
Fortunately Yaeger, now going into what he admits is an abitrarily decided ‘third season’, has a low-key, disarming manner that quickly puts all of the interviewees at their ease.
“I’m worried… I’m sweating,” comments Benz in her segment, before quipping, seconds later “I hope I get one of the dirty ones.”
The reality is that the Yaeger’s format is benign, particularly in comparison to the modus-operandi of sensation-driven network gossip shows.
What Benz actually gets to share, for example, is her personal music playlist for exercise workouts – as well as generous plugs for Defiance’s third season and a Vancouver-lensed movie with John Travolta.
Have any of the interviews tanked?
“Not really,” says Yaeger, adding that it’s a blessing that most of the interviewees are actors adept at improvising.
“They’re all good, although some are better than others. Some, I can tell that someone is off to one side guiding them. Others are just sitting on their couch, having fun with the idea.”
Yaeger will throw in some mildly censorable outtakes from time to time, and those who like the show on Facebook get access to even more outtakes.
“It’s an exchange,” he says.
Yaeger, who says he was into computers before they were even standard in the graphic design industry, and was one of the first million Twitter users (“that doesn’t sound like it was early, but it was”), had no master plan to become a celebrity interviewer – falling into it almost accidentally.
“I just managed to strike up a friendship on Twitter with actor Greg Grunberg from Heroes,” he says.
That led to him visiting L.A. to catch one of the charity concerts by Grunberg’s cover group Band From TV (which also includes such musician-actors as Hugh Laurie).
“Greg catered a dinner at his home before the concert – Michael Chiklis is there doing card tricks for the children – and in the middle of all this celebrity star-power, I realize that they’re all normal people, other than the fact that they can afford to have catered dinners at their homes.
“They all treated me as an equal – they were just kind, generous people.”
Knowing Yaeger’s expertise, Grunberg – who also helped get One Question Interviews on its feet as co-producer – connected him with actress Ileanna Douglas, who was having technical issues with her web series EZ To Assemble.
“That’s when I came up with One Question Interviews as an idea for her, but she didn’t have time to do it herself – although she said she could think of six people she could get to do it.”
Like all web-based shows, continued success depends on attracting viewership and ‘likes’, but Yaeger has managed to land some big scores, including Wesley, whose Vampire Diaries fandom drove traffic to the site.
“As soon as that went up, the Twitter-verse went crazy,” he chuckles.
But the very nature of the easy-going show – a direct product of the host’s own unpretentious personality – seems to be the secret of its continuing success.
“The audience I’ve developed see me as an equal, but one with access to celebrities that they’re interested in,” he says.
“I’m their conduit.”