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ost people watch television as a guilty pleasure. But 28-year-old Korbi Ghosh watches the tube like it’s her job—because it is.

As a reporter for E! Online and an on-air personality for E!’s broadband network, The Vine, Ghosh is responsible for keeping her readers and viewers up to date on some of TV’s most popular shows.

“I probably watch about four hours of TV a day,” she says. “My week starts Sunday night, because my column is daily. Every night ends with me writing the column or waking up very early [to do it], because it’s very timely.”

Jealous yet? There’s more: Not only does Ghosh spend quality time with her TV and get paid for it, she also gets to hobnob with Hollywood’s hottest stars. “Before or after TV watching, I’m going to events and interviewing stars and producers to get scoops out of them—what’s going on on set, what’s coming up, what don’t we know.”

Ghosh’s excitement about her career is palpable, and she exudes the confidence of someone who has found her niche in life. But it wasn’t always that way: “I went to the University of Michigan and graduated in 2001, with no clue what I wanted to do. I was a psych major and had planned on the traditional route of going to grad school. Then I decided senior year I wanted to do something in the entertainment industry but didn’t know what. I was going through the classic quarter-life crisis.”

korbi-celeb.jpg
Korbi with Jeremy Piven on Emmy night, getting accosted by Paula Abdul and chillin’ with Ian Ziering.

In a leap of faith, she moved to Los Angeles and eventually secured a job as a producer’s assistant. “I hated it, but it was a good education for me—a good way to get acclimated to Hollywood and learn how the town is run, how projects are put together, how actors come into it.”

She knew, however, that she wanted something different, and that she’d decided against graduate school for something more fulfilling than her current position. “I decided I would thumb through the UCLA extension course guide,” she says. “Then I stumbled on the print and broadcast journalism program. I realized I was good at writing and talking to people, and comfortable on camera.”

Korbi’s TV Picks

Network Comedy: NBC’s 30 Rock. “You must marvel at how ready and willing Fey is to constantly make her character the butt of the most insulting or humiliating jokes. The woman is, frankly, my hero.”

Network Drama: NBC’s Friday Night Lights. “Each and every storyline was well crafted and beautifully written, especially by midseason, when the writers really hit their stride and started knockin’ out some of the best television ever.”

Cable Comedy: Oxygen’s Campus Ladies. “Imagine two Midwestern moms in their mid 40s, suddenly single and going off to college: living in the dorms, hooking up with guys and experimenting with drugs. The comedy is inherent in the set up, but heightened by the sheer cluelessness of these two woman, who make The Office’s Michael Scott look like a hip, totally together dude. ”


Cable Drama:
HBO’s Big Love. “The principal characters are so three-dimensional and their world is so intricately crafted that the show actually manages to make the polygamist lifestyle seem almost normal. As a viewer, you find yourself feeling sympathetic to Bill Henrickson and his wives.”

Ghosh was struck by a sudden realization: “I thought if I married the industry with something that I love, like TV or comedy, I would be in business.”

“That was really the first step,” she says, “identifying what you really want. A lot of people love entertainment and are interested in TV or film; we have a celebrity-obsessed culture. But pinpointing what you want to do is difficult.”

Making It Big

Having cleared the first major hurdle, she now faced a second: Finding employment in a notoriously tough industry. “I got my break while hostessing at Koji’s Sushi & Shabu Shabu. It’s located at the Hollywood & Highland complex, where the Academy Awards are held every year,” she notes. “Kristin Veitch walked in, and I recognized her because she was the TV expert for E!. I decided to approach her, and she was very nice and gave me her email. After that, I kind of started stalking her and sending her my writing samples from class.”

Most importantly, Ghosh traded on Hollywood’s other major currency: gossip. “I had been in LA for a few years and had friends who were assistants on shows like Scrubs or Will & Grace, so I had scoops for her. A big part of the TV industry is people wanting to know what’s going on—who’s guest starring, who’s leaving. From that I got my first assignment, and it wasn’t long before I was hired.”

Although Ghosh started out in an entry-level position as an editorial assistant, it wasn’t long before she worked her way up the ladder. “E! has given me a lot of opportunity to do on-camera work. And seven months ago, because I’m so passionate about interviewing and TV, they gave me my own column, Korbi’s Quickie.”

And Ghosh is thrilled by the gig: “My favorite part of the job is getting to go out and interact with people whose work I admire. I feel very lucky that I get to express to them what I love. A lot of times the shows that I cover don’t get a lot of accolades—people don’t watch 30 Rock like they watch Grey’s. I think 30 Rock is brilliant, and I get to interact with Tina Fey and other actors and writers and talk to them about the process.”

While she clearly loves her job, Ghosh admits that she can sometimes have too much of a good thing. “It sort of never stops; there’s always TV to watch, and there are always events to go to.” And Hollywood’s environment can also be tough to take. “Hollywood is cutthroat. Sometimes people don’t want you to necessarily show your talent. If you’re doing well, sometimes that means another person is not.”

Even the perks of her position, such as meeting and interviewing celebrities, can turn into pitfalls. “Sometimes you come face to face with an actor or producer who doesn’t want to talk to you, to engage, and it’s your job to get them to talk. Most of the time people are great, but sometimes you’re dealing with egos.”

In the end, though, Ghosh is delighted with her decision to break away from the traditional mold and seek out her true passion. “Some things never get old—I started doing this because I love TV. People look down on TV and don’t see it as an art form like film. Not that there isn’t a lot of garbage, but there are also a lot of intelligent people working [in television]. I know the industry so well at this point, and I have so much respect for it.” It’s clear that Ghosh is on her way to her own Hollywood ending: “I sort of consider myself a professional fan. Eventually I’ll have a bigger platform to [communicate] that.”

In Her Own Words: Korbi’s Celebrity Encounters

One of my favorite celebrity exchanges was recently with Adam Goldberg at the Independent Spirit Awards. We just had a great back and forth going. I was asking crazy questions like, “How do you stay awake at these events?” and “Do you get drunk before you leave the house?” But he totally got the joke and played along and it turned out great. Watch the highlights online.

Lisa Kudrow was a nice encounter, because she was just coming off the cancellation of her HBO show The Comeback, which I thought was brilliant, but was axed by HBO after just one season. I had the opportunity to tell her how freakin’ fantastic it was and that I mourned the loss of it, and you could just see the appreciation on her face. She was accompanied by Dan Bucatinsky that day, who actually played her publicist on the show. Turns out they’re professional partners as well. He was loving the praise as well. That was a nice moment.

My sorriest celebrity encounter came very early on. It was a charity event—the first Hollywood event I was sent to cover on my own. I was nervous, because I was very new to the business. Plus, there was no red carpet. It was the sort of casual gathering where reporters have to work up their nerve to walk up to their target and politely ask if they mind answering random questions while having a tape recorder stuck in their face.

I knew I had to just jump in, so I cut my teeth on Michael Vartan. He was on Alias at the time and that was one of our high priority shows, so I had several questions for him. He was lovely to me and answered every one. Encouraged by this, I started working the room. I approached a few other TV stars: Josh Holloway from Lost and recording artist Eve, who had her own show at the time. Everyone was accommodating and I started to think, “Wow, this ain’t so bad.”

Then, all of a sudden, David Schwimmer from Friends, though hours late, swept in. His name had been on the tip sheet, so my boss had particular questions she asked me to throw his way in case he did indeed show. So there he was, and I was ready. I let him get settled and waited for what looked like a free moment for him. I walked over, introduced myself and asked if he minded answering a few questions. I really thought that question was simply a formality, but I soon learned I was wrong. “Who are you with?” he asked, looking me up and down. I answered, and he continued to hesitate: “I’m really not doing interviews. I only have like eight minutes to be here.” I was very polite and said, “No problem, I just wanted to know what brings you out today.” He started to answer my question, so I figured he changed his mind. When I hit him with a follow-up, he freaked. “I’m not here to answer questions!” he told me hostilely. He looked at me like I was dirt. I was crushed. And that was the end of that. I apologized and walked away.n

You can’t spell Deepa Kamath without E!
Published on May 21, 2007.
Photography: Courtesy of Michael Petty.

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Korbi’s Quickie

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