While his friends dreamed of landing jobs after graduation on Wall Street or at high-powered law firms, Ben Mulroney had different aspirations. "I remember saying, wouldn't it be great if I got a job that would pay me to watch TV," says Mulroney. "And here," he adds, with a laugh, "I've done just that."
At age thirty, Mulroney has become one of the most recognized TV personalities in his native Canada. He is best known as the affable host of Canadian Idol, the Canadian counterpart of the popular reality show American Idol. He also co-hosts the entertainment-news magazine eTalk Daily, where he delivers the latest news in movies, television, and music and covers glitzy red-carpet events like the Academy Awards.
Mulroney's workday is hardly the typical nine-to-five. On any given day he could start with a rehearsal for Canadian Idol, move on to a special press screening of a new movie, field questions from reporters at a press junket for eTalk Daily, and then cover a VIP function for his network. "I am never in the same place, doing the same thing, wearing the same thing."
Beyond his television gigs, Mulroney has branched out by writing occasionally for TV Guide Canada and the Toronto Sun, serving as a guest host for a morning radio show, and even making his big screen debut as, what else, an entertainment reporter in the action movie Fantastic Four.
Mulroney says that his career evolved haphazardly. After graduating from Duke with a major in history, he enrolled in law school at Quebec City's UniversitÈ Laval. For those who knew his father, Brian Mulroney, the eighteenth Prime Minister of Canada, the younger Mulroney's decision to pursue a law degree seemed a natural next step.
Yet, in spite of his political roots, he says he soon realized that law school was the wrong fit for him. "I thought I was destined to be the world's worst lawyer."
Then, in 2000, Mulroney took his father's place at a national Tory convention, where he conducted live interviews on television. His ease on camera caught the attention of Canada's CTV television network, which offered him a job as a correspondent for a little-watched show on the network's TalkTV channel. He seized the opportunity and, within a few years, became the face of entertainment news at CTV.
Mulroney acknowledges that his famous last name has helped lead to his TV success: "You know, the name has got a cachet, and it's got a curiosity factor. If they liked my dad, they will tune in. If they hated my dad, they are even more likely to tune in." But he is quick to point out that his network would not keep extending his contract if he couldn't carry his own weight.
Mulroney says he gets particular satisfaction out of helping to write the scripts for his shows and assisting in editing decisions. Ultimately, he hopes to parlay these interests into writing and producing his own television series. He even has an idea for a reality TV show that would present a different side of his famous parents.
"Everyone has a reality show they want to do," he says. "Hey, I figure if Paris Hilton and her mother can both have reality shows, no idea is too stupid."
Ben Mulroney '97
August 1, 2006