Q&A: Celebrity Host Coach Marki Costello
The industry vet dishes on her upcoming Miami bootcamp and Hollywood’s best and worst TV hosts.
January 23, 2013
A pioneer of the modern-day television host, Marki Costello has catapulted the careers of Miamians like Michael Yo (Y-100, E!,Chelsea Lately) and Jason Kennedy (E! News) and helped groom the likes of Cee Lo Green, Kelly Osbourne, and Bill and Giuliana Rancic. She’s also the granddaughter of comedic great Lou Costello—so Hollywood literally runs in her veins.
Aside from running a hosting school in Los Angeles, Costello heads Hollywood's first on-air personality agency, Creative Management Entertainment Group (CMEG). Come March, she'll bring her knack for priming television talent to South Florida with a weekend pop-up hosting bootcamp. Students will learn the ins and outs of the hosting industry and how to brand themselves for success. Those who miss the bootcamp can opt to read Costello's how-to book, Become a Host.
Here, Costello opines on the talent of such well-known hosts as Oprah, Matt Lauer, Khloe Kardashian, and Ryan Seacrest, while also giving the skinny on her Miami bootcamp (March 22-24).
Who is the bootcamp for and what can students expect?
MARKI COSTELLO: The bootcamp is great whether you've never hosted before, just started out, or have experience. In two days you learn what the hosting elements are—copy transitions, -isms, personality, brand building, co-hosting, understanding your audience, expertise and knowledge, game show structure, etc.—and then it's up to you afterwards to practice and do the hard work.
What mistakes do you see hosts and interviewers making most often?
MC: They don't listen. When Oprah interviewed Lance Armstrong, there were moments when she asked a poignant question and there would be silence. Instead of jumping in and filling that silence or talking in that space because it is uncomfortable, as most hosts would, she waited. The viewer wants the dish, the story, and it is the interviewer's job to get that. You have to be smart about it.
So aside from Oprah, whose television career do you admire?
MC: Matt Lauer is a hard interviewer, which is good because he doesn't let anybody off the hook. He pushes until he gets the answer, which I like. Why else would I be watching? You owe the information to your audience. I love Joan Rivers—she can do no wrong. I want to see her working for another 20 years. She's a genius and has masterfully made her way through show business and career reinvention.
You told the New York Post that the X-Factor’s hiring of Khloe Kardashian was a “colossal mistake.” Tell us how you really feel.
MC: Khloe is a reality star, but she's not a host. She shouldn't be hosting. Mario [Lopez] should have picked up the slack and he didn't. I teach my students to be a generous co-host and he wasn't very generous. I understand why Simon [Cowell] hired her, but having your first hosting gig be a network, primetime, live show with a star-filled panel is career suicide.
Do you think they will bring her back for the next season?
MC: No. I think the backlash was so huge that they won't. They need to bring in someone who knows how to host.
Switching gears to American Idol, do you think Ryan Seacrest will stick around?
MC: If he's smart, no. Ryan is the hottest host around and he is reliable. He knows his audience and his audience knows him. He is the same guy on TV as he is on radio.
And what of your protégés? Who have you coached that’s gone on to make you proud?
MC: I am really proud of my client Todd Newton, who won the Daytime Emmy for best game show host. When he won, he thanked his audience first and then he thanked me, which was a career high. Seeing Jason Kennedy take off, too. I met him as a sophomore at the University of Miami and we kept in touch. We did his reel together, built his brand, and I got him his E! News job. I loved coaching Cee Lo Green and now seeing him host a music show is great.
Enough about others, what's next for you?
MC: I'm writing my second book on creating and nurturing your brand and creating a point of view. I'm in the process of creating a television show about what I've built as a woman. I'm a woman and I have it all and I think every woman can have it all. Hosting is a great balancing act, but so is life. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't challenging sometimes. I have children and I want to make sure I have time with them, but I also manage 26 successful on-air hosts, and in many ways they are like my children, too.
Visit becomeahost.com to enroll in Costello's Miami bootcamp.