It’s a city, a destination, a dream, an entity, a brand and, if you put it in quotes, it can pretty much denote anything in the world of entertainment. “Hollywood” goes well beyond just red carpets and klieg lights. From the rise of ET and TMZ, People and Perez Hilton, this panel will explore how covering Hollywood has evolved from a specialized field into mainstream and pop culture.
Moderator: Steve Holzer
Panelists: Chris Azzopardi, AJ Gibson, Dr. Jon Paul Higgins, Shar Jossell
Awards presented: Excellence in Blogging, Excellence in Book Writing, Excellence in Podcast, Excellence in Column Writing, Excellence in Opinion/Editorial Writing
STEVE HOLZER is an award-winning journalist and producer whose dynamic 25-year career spans both print and broadcast journalism as well as entertainment television programming. Most recently, Holzer served as Executive Producer of Hollywood Today LIVE, a nationally syndicated entertainment talk show that ran for two seasons on FOX and Media General affiliates. Prior to that, Holzer spent four years as the Executive Producer of Original Programming at the cable network REELZ, where he directly oversaw the production of more than 500 hours of programming annually. Holzer began his journalism career at the Associated Press in Denver, where his bylines appeared in major newspapers around the country like the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe. Making the transition to television, Holzer spent five years as a newscast producer at KCNC-TV in Denver before moving to KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, where he produced the station’s #1-rated 4pm newscast and later oversaw the station’s entertainment news coverage.
Nine years ago, CHRIS AZZOPARDI introduced weekly celebrity interviews to Q Syndicate, the wire service for LGBTQ regional press, where he serves as editor and writer. In that time, he has conducted exclusive LGBTQ-press one-on-ones with stars such as Beyoncé, Meryl Streep and Britney Spears, and many others. He also made Jane Fonda cry (happy tears), and his 2014 interview with Dolly Parton was featured among 25 interviews in the 2017 book, “Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton.” Additionally, he has written original content for Vanity Fair, GQ, ETonline.com, Billboard, INTOmore and Logo’s NewNowNext. He is based in Michigan and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From his small town Ohio upbringing to his fast paced LA life, AJ GIBSON has experienced it all! Since entertaining viewers as a contestant on ABC’s Expedition Impossible in 2011 and being singled out as “What to Watch” by TV Guide magazine, AJ has turned his fifteen minutes in the spotlight into a successful career as a television host and public speaker. AJ spent time as the host of Hollywood Today Live on FOX, has filled in as a guest co-host on Access Hollywood Live and has appeared regularly on Southern California’s iconic morning chat fest Good Day LA! From time to time, you can also catch AJ chatting with the ladies of The Talk on CBS, giving viewers the “Inside Scoop” on The Wendy Williams Show and interviewing the world’s biggest stars on the entertainment industry’s flashiest red carpets!
DR. JON PAUL HIGGINS is a speaker, writer and social justice defender. They are both a Lambda Literary and Maynard 200 fellow and writes regularly for Presence.IO. Their work has been included on sites like The Root, Blavity, INTO, Efniks, Talkspace, Bitch Media and more notably, Them. Dr. Higgins is committed to using their voice to highlight and bring focus to the issues that affect both the Black and LGBTQ communities. In September 2016, they launched a YouTube channel where they posts weekly videos about race and identity issues and began sharing pieces of their a mini-documentary highlighting stories related to their life as a queer Black non-binary person growing up in the inner city of San Bernardino, California. Dr. Higgins continues to lecture all over the country on topics related to intersectionality, race, gender and sexuality and has gained attention from websites including Attn: and Vox. Dr. Higgins completed their Educational Doctorate of Leadership in Justice from the University of Redlands where they wrote their dissertation on the first-year experiences of queer men of color in higher education.
SHAR JOSSELL is a freelance entertainment reporter and media personality. Aside from co-hosting the “Kiss and Tell Radio” podcast, she also hosts pop culture news rundowns on her ‘Shar Says So’ YouTube channel. Jossell has been featured on Buzzfeed, TMZ, Us Weekly and Love B. Scott. She also previously served as a panelist on AfterBuzz TV & Black Hollywood Live, quickly becoming one of their most sought after personalities.