Gos­sip colum­nist David Hart­nell has seen, and told, it all. The West­mere au­thor was hon­oured with The Va­ri­ety Artists Club of New Zealand’s Fullers En­ter­tain­ment Award for his 49 years work­ing be­hind the scenes in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try. Re­porter sat

Jess Lee

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

1. How does it feel to be recog­nised for your work? It was a great hon­our and for once in my life I was gob­s­macked. I cer­tainly never thought that would hap­pen when I started out writ­ing gos­sip. Peo­ple said you can’t make a liv­ing out of writ­ing gos­sip and here I am nearly 50 years later. 2. Why do you think you have been so suc­cess­ful? I woke up in New Zealand and thought – they’re not go­ing to come to me, I’ve got to go to them. You must be where it’s hap­pen­ing and that’s what I did.

I’ve never writ­ten sala­cious gos­sip – I’ve al­ways writ­ten tongue-incheek. There are other gos­sip colum­nists but I find them too vi­cious.

There’s only been one celebrity in that 30-odd years that has com­plained and she’s not worth even men­tion­ing. 3. What are some of your tricks of the trade? The worst thing you can say to a celebrity is: ‘‘tell me about your­self’’ be­cause they don’t want to hear that – so do your home­work. There are ar­eas that you don’t write about. You never write about any­body that’s preg­nant be­cause by the time it goes to print they could have lost the baby.

Never take things for granted, never as­sume any­thing.

Agents and as­sis­tants will say to me that en­ter­tain­ers won’t talk about this and that and then you get there and they’ll re­ally talk about any­thing. It’s just the way that you ask them re­ally. 4. Who or what stands out as a high­light of your ca­reer so far? Grace Kelly, and Au­drey Hep­burn was just beau­ti­ful, she is one of the most serene women I have ever met. One of the things that sticks out was when I was do­ing Eliz­a­beth Tay­lor’s makeup I ended up hold­ing the mil­lion dol­lar ring that Richard Bur­ton had given her.

It’s just one of those things that hap­pened in a work­ing sit­u­a­tion so who would have thought I would have held that. 5. Is there still a per­son you haven’t met that you would like to? I would love to meet the Queen. I would prob­a­bly ask her about the Royal Com­mand Per­for­mances that she’s had over the years and who she likes as an en­ter­tainer. Does she make the list or do agents put it to­gether and she just goes? 6. What do you think of the cal­i­bre of celebrity to­day com­pared to back then? In 10 years’ time Mi­ley Cyrus won’t be around. I mean she’s a go-get­ter, she’s changed her im­age, she’s out there and we’re sit­ting in New Zealand talk­ing about her now so she’s a good mar­keter. But they won’t have the longevity th­ese peo­ple – even An­gelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Ge­orge Clooney. Never feel sorry for the celebri­ties in the gos­sip col­umns be­cause it’s up to the agents to get them in there. 7. Who would be your five dream din­ner party guests? I would have the Queen, Noel Coward [English play­wright, di­rec­tor, ac­tor and singer] be­cause he’d be witty, Eliz­a­beth Tay­lor be­cause she was just so won­der­ful, she was

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