Thursday, December 4, 2008

Perez Hilton Be Warned: It Pays To Be A Nice Guy!...

Ryan O'Connor is a tough man to pin down.

When I first approached O'Connor to do an exclusive one-on-one interview, it was for my "Break-Out Internet Star" piece, but his busy shooting schedule, coupled with awareness events around the election did not allow it. Still, I pursued onward because I knew I had to lock him down now, so I could say I "knew him when." And O'Connor was eager to chat and excited about his "first real piece of press," but as we got into the meat of what makes him and his show tick, I began to realize just how media savvy he must be because in rescheduling, he did not simply get a blurb-- a supporting part in an article featuring many-- but a profile dedicated solely to him. He may be one of the most hardworking men in Hollywood, and he deserves every word of this in-depth exclusive!

Originally from Arizona, O'Connor was a theatre kid who moved out to New York City after graduating from high school with visions of bright Broadway lights for his future. There he attended the Circle In The Square Theatre School but found himself getting work here and there in film and commercial gigs as well (you can catch him as a wedding reception guest who dances with Mila Kunis in the independent film production based on the off-Broadway play, Tony N Tina's Wedding). Kunis and O'Connor became good friends, and he came out to visit her in Los Angeles for a month five years ago-- only that month turned into two and then four and ultimately into his newfound home.

Though his first love may always be the theatre-- and he is currently writing a musical-- stage productions are few and far between in LaLaLand, so O'Connor has taken parts in shows like What About Brian, American Dad, and How I Met Your Mother since moving out to Los Angeles. He considers himself a character actor who may need a few more years before being successful in the theatre medium anyway because his "baby face works better on camera than on stage."

Auditions can take a toll on a person, though, and O'Connor has never been one to just sit back and wait for things to fall into his lap. He started his own internet based talk show, The Ryan O'Connor Show, after getting great feedback on his MySpace blogs.

"But I hated typing them out!! I couldn't get the words down as fast as I could think of them," he admits.

Inspired by Ross Matthews' own "talky blogs" and JefferySelf, who shoots in his own apartment, O'Connor set about with his own program, which boasts reality show (Dancing with the Stars) news, recaps, and behind-the-scenes; original film reviews; special celebrity guest interviews; and happenings and events from Ryan's personal life. One memorable episode even caught the last Southern California earthquake on tape, quickly become a YouTube fan favorite, as well as one that holds a special place in the host's own heart.

He has even hosted his first contest in a bid to get more subscribers to his YouTube page. The internet is giving him "the freedom to feel comfortable using [his] own room as a set without feeling pressure to do something grandiose;" it has opened up the channels though which budding celebrities can find fans and express their opinions.

Armed with a support team of his roommate, Nina Millin, who is a regular on "See You Nina Tuesday" episodes, as well as his best friend and sometimes-cameraman/tech support, Lucas Coatney, O'Connor produces his ten minute show five days a week. It is an enormous task to undertake, especially considering O'Connor handles all of his own publicity himself, too, posting bulletins on Myspace and Facebook and seeding message boards for the various topics/guests he covers.

O’Connor laughs when thinking of how crazy and eclectic his recent Google search history has become. O’Connor also admits he mostly "wings it" and just discusses whatever strikes him at the moment-- except on days he has a big name scheduled, though. Perhaps because he is never gossipy or rude towards those he discusses, The Ryan O'Connor Show has been granted fun, unique, and perhaps most importantly, exclusive interviews with some of O'Connor's amazingly talented (and supportive!) famous friends-- everyone from Kathy Griffin to Shoshana Bean, including repeat appearances from Marisa Jaret Winokur. It is through Winokur that O'Connor has had such great access to DWTS, too, as he sat front row every episode last season, cheering her on. More recently, he has brought his cameras to her rehearsal for "Hairspray." The band Earl Greyhound has also recently shot an episode, though, and O'Connor promises more great ones coming up, including Kunis and possibly even DWTS fan favorite Lance Bass.

O'Connor is warm, welcoming, and like everyone's big brother, and those inherent personality traits translate into success on any screen, regardless of the size. It is the reason actress Krista Allen invited him into her trailer on the set of one of her more recent projects, The Starter Wife to shoot a very special "on location" episode of his show.

O'Connor has also gone on the road to Arizona in his program, visiting the stage production of RENT: The High School Edition at Greasepaint Scottsdale Youtheatre. While his show is always funny and inspiring, O'Connor also knows when the bring the tone down a bit and talk about the serious topics, like California passing Proposition 8 or the anniversary of 9/11 which also happened to be the anniversary of his father's death.

O'Connor has big dreams for his show (such as getting Liza Minnelli, Patti Lupone, and/or Delta Burke to sit down and talk with him); he hopes to keep growing and sometime in the near future expand to a full website where he can post his daily videos, as well as written blogs, and other clips he finds inspiring or just plain entertaining. He believes in "constructive criticism," sure, but can't see his show getting gossipy in the mean way anytime soon. Though it might be easy to see The Ryan O'Connor Show adapted to a slightly larger (read: television) screen soon, O'Connor doesn't necessarily feel that's the way to go because, as he so astutely points out, "the internet is the new TV!" Though, O'Connor is so creative and driven that if he decides he does want a network talk show ala Ellen or Bonnie Hunt, chances are he'll have one within a year!

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