Paul Costabile ‘05 attributes his start as an entertainment reporter to one simple wish during his sophomore year at Saint Joseph Regional High School.
“I wanted to skip homeroom.”
The current host/comedian for The Hollywood Reporter remembers being late all the time and, with a strict homeroom teacher, that was a bad start to every day.
Costabile always had an interest in journalism and making people laugh. WSJR, the school TV studio that aired its news during the morning homeroom period, had just experienced a rebirth the year prior, and moderator Mr. Paul Salvatti had just one rule of thumb: try new things.
“I’ve been that way my whole career; it started at WSJR.”
He reported “live” from hurricane-ravaged Florida one morning, the WSJR staff throwing buckets of cold water on him while he did. He spoofed Halloween horror movies and even made an appearance as Santa Claus.
“It was great. It was the first time I had a small little audience,” he said. “It was important that something fun, something unique was embraced.”
During his senior year, Costabile decided to pursue his studies in journalism and TV/radio at William Paterson University before embarking on his professional career.
“I wanted to be a late-night host, but no one was hiring me to be the next Jimmy Fallon so I created my own show on the streets of New York.”
Costabile’s Gorilla Late Night literally took place at a cardboard desk in the middle of Times Square.
“We had police permits! For two years, out of my own pocket, I paid a crew, and we did a three-camera talk show.”
That eventually led to a job at iHeart Radio as a blogger where Costabile started “harassing celebrities and artists with a camera.”
He became the national personality for their digital video page as well as some of their TV shows.
In January, he happily shed the blogger title and now hosts a news show for The Hollywood Reporter. He also freelances for Snapchat as a live correspondent, covering events and awards shows across the country. His red carpet encounters with Emma Stone, Denzel Washington and Mark Hamill (“the force is strong at the Tony Awards”) keep his audience smiling.
“I’m very much crazy and fearless in my field,” Costabile says without hesitation. “The response is usually good, from strangers on the street and famous strangers alike. I’m fortunate to have grown more confident that I can show up somewhere and make a moment that other people will want to see and enjoy.”
Costabile fondly recalls the staggering amount of people he’s “shared moments with” throughout his career as a highlight of the job.
“I have a certain respect for ‘old media’ and the people who do what I do and have done it for so long. Meeting Oprah, the late Joan Rivers, interviewing Larry King ... those were huge moments for me.”
Recently, Costabile has added to his workload, appearing on New York Live, which airs on NBC 4 at 11:30 a.m.
In addition to host/reporter/comedian/writer/producer, he is excited to add two more titles to his resume: husband and father.
Costabile became engaged to singer/songwriter Christina Perri this summer, and the couple is expecting its first child.
The pair actually met when Costabile interviewed Perri for iHeart Radio: “The best interview of my career.”
While things are moving fast for Costabile, he still finds his SJR roots each summer, volunteering with fellow Green Knights at the Mid-Hudson Valley Camp at the Marist Brothers Center at Esopus.
"I actually started at Esopus my sophomore year through Brother John [Dunning]. I can't believe it's going on 15 years!" explained Costabile.
With a full plate already, where does one go from here?
“I originally had this dream to host my own talk show, but my goals have changed," said Costabile.
"Really I’m looking to do something that’s real and human, something that is a form of positive entertainment for our generation. Something that can spark discussion, but still remind people to have fun.”
He concludes, “the places change, but the concept remains the same as at WSJR.”