Q&A: Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey


Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey doesn't get up from behind her massive desk when someone enters the room. She doesn't have to -- she's a force of nature whether sitting or standing, and possibly even in her sleep.

In 2000, she took over the reins as "Extra's" senior executive producer, guiding the entertainment news show through major shifts in content and personnel, and today, as "Extra" begins its 15 season, she's ready for her toughest competition yet -- the Internet.

Thanks to a new host in Mario Lopez and a revamped show format, she had plenty to discuss in a recent chat with Mary Murphy for The Hollywood Reporter.

Hollywood Reporter: Why hire Mario Lopez?

Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey:
He's the future of the genre. It's his time. Mario came to me five years ago and said, "What do I have to do for you to consider me for the main job?" I said, "You have to become a household name on your own. I know you grew up in the business and that Eva Longoria is your best friend, but I want you to go out there and make your own path." And to his credit, he did.

THR: What makes him the future?

Gregorisch-Dempsey: He is relatable on every level. He has a huge following in the Hispanic community. He is on the cover of every single magazine out there. He is a risk taker. He is disciplined. He has the Midas touch.

THR: A lot of your competition comes from the Internet these days. How will you meet that challenge?

Gregorisch-Dempsey: The ("Extra" Web) site will be more about social networking, more interactive. Stars will be able to talk to stars, viewers will be able to ask stars questions. Viewers will have more of a role in the show through Skype and cyber cams and texting and Flip cams -- this is a big element in our future. We have to evolve the genre to keep up with the world. After all, pretty soon we will be getting into our cars and flying to work.

THR: Aside from your co-producers and staff, to whom do you turn for advice?

Gregorisch-Dempsey: Simon Cowell is literally my counsel, and I am his. Every show I do and every show he does, we give each other a critique.

THR: How did you two become each other's sounding boards?

Gregorisch-Dempsey: My hair guy was doing Simon's hair. So I slipped a note to him, and he gave it to Simon, who called and said, "Let's have dinner." I gave him some good career advice about working in America, and he told me, "You will be my friend for life." He is one of my best friends on the planet.

THR: To do your job right, do you have to work 24/7?

Gregorisch-Dempsey: Are you kidding? I am in bed by 5 p.m. My husband could kill me because I am on the BlackBerry all night. I am awake at 3:50 a.m., in by 5:10 a.m. and my biggest decision is: Should I put on my mascara or should I return to the BlackBerry? I live, breathe and love it. And I can't wait for the Mario era to begin.
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