By Will Dean
When you tune in to Ross Mathews’ new TV show Sept. 6, don’t expect to see a replica of “Chelsea Lately” or “The Tonight Show.” The funnyman, whose career has evolved from Jay Leno’s intern to the E! network’s and Chelsea Handler’s correspondent, plans to make his own mark on the talk show genre.
How? He’s following Handler’s advice to “‘be you, do you 100 percent,’” Mathews says.
He brings to the weekly “Hello Ross” show the same exuberance and curiosity of a fan — or amusingly nosy neighbor up for anything — that have endeared him to both straight and gay viewers for years. What’s different is the welcome interaction his studio and virtual audiences have with Mathews and his guests.
As for the set, there is “a little Palm Springs chic,” he teases. “You’ll see.”
Mathews has a long relationship with the Palm Springs area. His life partner, stylist Salvador Camarena, grew up in Indio. And Mathews frequently visited Palm Springs for about a decade, always eying real estate, before they bought a second home here more than a year ago.
He describes Palm Springs as “my favorite place in the world” and adds, “I feel most at home when I’m there and going to Toucan’s to play trivia.” On Nov. 3, he will appear in the Greater Palm Springs Pride Parade as a celebrity grand marshal.
Mathews recently chatted with Desert Outlook about the show and his dream list of gay guests.
What can viewers expect from “Hello Ross”?
I always have wanted to be a talk show host, since I was 8 years old. Back then even, I knew the kind of show I wanted to make. I would sit and watch talk shows, and I would talk to the TV.
This show is all about pop culture and the fans coming together. We’re going to be debating and talking about the top stories of the week. When I have celebrities, I will interview them for a bit, and then I’ll go out into the audience and the fans can ask them questions. We’ll also be video-chatting across the country.
What’s one of your favorite segments?
What I’m most excited about is to have that conversation with fans. We won’t be cheesy though. This is not totally PG.”
Who would be your ultimate fantasy LGBT guest and why?
Oh my God, I would have Anderson Cooper. He could stick around for a bit if he wanted to. Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his husband are friends of mine. I’d love to have them on. Neil Patrick Harris and his husband, I’d like to have them on. Rosie O’Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres — isn’t it wonderful in 2013 I can list so many LGBT people who are in the mainstream?
Who are your all-time favorite talk show hosts?
Rosie would be there. Regis (Philbin) would be there. He was so good at being spontaneous at the top of the show. Chelsea and Jay are both on that list as well. Jay is the consummate professional, and Chelsea, she’s so specific and so unafraid to be exactly who she is.”
When you look back on your ride (in show business) so far, you think what?
I wish I had a time machine, so I could go back to my 8-year-old self and say “You’re totally right.”
Is there anything else you want Desert Outlook readers to know?
Tell everyone if they see me in Palm Springs and want to come say hi, please do.
WATCH THE SHOW
“Hello Ross” airs at 10 p.m. Fridays starting Sept. 6 on the E! network. It follows “Fashion Police.”