True Confessions of a Shameless Gossip

True Confessions of a Shameless Gossip


For 36 years Craig Bennett has been at the coalface of the wild and outrageous showbiz gossip beat ... from humble beginnings as a cadet journalist to rubbing shoulders with an array of Australian and international luminaries.

True Confessions of a Shameless Gossip is a champagne, gossip, intrigue and scandal-fuelled trip through an amazing career filled with glittering celebrities and outrageous tales!

Craig has covered the Oscars, lived in Hollywood and interviewed a galaxy of stars from icons to legends in (and out of!) their own lunchtimes.

Craig has never been one to keep things to himself, especially if it is juicy and scandalous, so strap yourself in and enjoy!

Craig Bennett is a self-confessed gossip tragic who's been shamelessly nosing his way around the wild and outrageous showbiz scene for almost 40 years, champagne flute in hand, reporting the entertainment news, scoping the scandals and celebrity peccadillos, then dishing the delectable details with cheek and gusto - on television, radio, in newspapers, magazines, and online.

True Confessions of a Shameless Gossip
New Holland Publishers
Author: Craig Bennett
RRP: $29.99

Interview with Craig Bennett

Question: What inspired you to write True Confessions of a Shameless Gossip?

Craig Bennett: I've been 36 years at the gossip and showbiz reporting coalface… and so the outrageous, crazy, wild and wonderful stories were piling up, so I thought it was time. Plus, I had a fabulously long lunch with New Holland publisher Fiona Schultz who thought it was a splendid idea - and she loved the title. So it went from there.


Question: What was the best story to revisit when you began planning True Confessions of a Shameless Gossip?

Craig Bennett: I was asked to kick off with book with a prologue, which was to be an extraordinarily inspiring celebrity story, or one of abject disappointment - maybe an interview where some previously perceived fabulous star who had been a letdown, rude or not on point. I opted for the inspiring, and no celebrity has been as inspiring to me as chatting with The Nanny's Fran Drescher. I got to interview Fran and her ex-husband Peter Marc Jacobson in Peter's stunning Hollywood Hills home for Studio 10. We talked about The Nanny, the fabled guest stars like Bette Midler, Elton John and Elizabeth Taylor. They then shared their harrowing story of a home invasion. Fran, Peter and a female friend were having dinner when the front door of the Los Angeles home was smashed in. The thugs, brandishing guns, tied up Peter, then raped Fran at gun-point. Years later Fran was eventually diagnosed with uterine cancer after seeing an array of doctors and being constantly misdiagnosed. Fran correlates the two - internalising traumatic situations, not letting go and the stress with cancer. The horrendous ordeal impacted on Peter as well. It unlocked a side to his nature he was coming to grips with - his sexuality, specifically that he was gay. Fran now inspires with her mantra of turning pain into purpose, of banishing attitude and replacing it with gratitude. Fran and Peter are two tremendously inspiring people. Time in their company was a gift.


Question: What did you learn about yourself whilst writing True Confessions of a Shameless Gossip?

Craig Bennett: That my memory is still intact, after so much champagne and decades of showbiz partying! I learned to appreciate the opportunities I'd had, the people I've met, and the fun along the way. None of it is taken for granted. I also realised the secrets I'm keeping that won't make it into any book! I might be a self-confessed, out and proud shameless gossip, but I've still got plenty of showbiz friends because I'm a trustworthy showbiz gossip - just when you thought such a beast couldn't possibly exit! That's not to say the book is all syrupy sweet stories of fabulous people. I've met some horrors along the way and tell all; even it does cause a stir.


Question: Can you tell us about the hilarious moment you had with Oscar winner Faye Dunaway and a garden hose?

Craig Bennett: I was living in Los Angeles between 1999 and 2001. I was the Hollywood correspondent for dozens of radio stations in Australia and around the world, dishing the dirt with all the big star goss. One of my daily walks around the West Hollywood neighbourhood, I came upon Oscar winning legend Faye Dunaway, she was watering her garden, she was immediately recognisable, even under a large hat and sunglasses. Faye had a sign she'd written on a piece of cardboard that read: 'Do not steal the Cana lilies. They are private property, Faye' Obviously someone had been nicking Faye's Cana lilies, so she put that sign up, I was cheeky, and returned later and took the sign (it was only a bit of cardboard she'd sticky taped up to a wall). On another walk I encountered Faye again, and she'd made another sign - clearly someone was still taking her lilies! I was reading the sign, unaware she was nearby when I heard this ominous growl – "keep moving!" With that, and inadvertently I'm sure, I copped a bit of a spray from Faye's hose, only a tiny bit. What struck me about Faye is she was living in a very modest home, a golden hued hacienda, not in some swanky area. I thought Faye would be living in a mansion with servants polishing everything to death, but no!


Question: Which celebrity have you interviewed the most and why?

Craig Bennett: In the early days it was Jeanne Little. I loved her and we became great friends; WE still are, except Jeanne is stricken with Alzheimer's disease and is lying in a nursing home bed - she can't speak and has no idea who anyone is, a total, heartbreaking tragedy. But in those good old days, Jeanne always gave fabulous quotes and furnished you with the best stories, like the time she swore she was snatched by aliens from the window of her Sydney bedroom, she was a teenager, she doesn't remember much - except being taken by a mysterious force into a spaceship hovering over her parent's Hills hoist. Years later, when she was starring in the stage musical Jerry's Girls in Brisbane and sharing an apparently with her co-star Marcia Hines, Jeanne swore she was repeatedly held down by ghosts when she went to bed. It spooked her so much, she changed apartments. Marcia confirmed the off-beat story.


Interview by Brooke Hunter

True Confessions of a Shameless Gossip
New Holland Publishers
Author: Craig Bennett
RRP: $29.99




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