An Oscars role beckons for broadcaster Sandro Monetti after making a name for himself in Hollywood. He tells his former university student ANDREW BETTRIDGE how he still spreads the word about Blackpool to anyone who will listen in LA.
Journalist Sandro Monetti swapped the familiar sands of Blackpool for the desert of Dubai earlier this month to mix with global leaders and Hollywood stars at the World Government Summit.
The former Gazette reporter, now a familiar face on CNN International and the BBC, was in the UAE to report on the politicians and thought leaders gathering to solve challenges facing the planet.
But his home town was never far from his thoughts. “The event was in the shadow of the world’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa which is very impressive but, to me, it’s still no Blackpool Tower,” said Sandro, whose heart is always in the Fylde.
Now living in the ritzy Beverly Hills area of Los Angeles, he was also surrounded by Hollywood stars at the summit because with Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ government not sending any delegates to the international think tank, Hollywood celebrities, including Oscar winners Robert De Niro and Goldie Hawn, took it upon themselves to represent US views.
Hawn, pictured with Sandro, was urging world governments to focus on the happiness of their citizens and offering the assistance of her foundation which helps the youth of the world develop a more optimistic outlook.
That’s something Sandro has in spades and no wonder, given his fun life roaming the world reporting on glamorous events.
Next he will be heard on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Oscars pre-show special on the night of March 4.
It’s the fifth year in the row the BBC has used him as their Oscars expert but this time much of the talk on air may well be dominated by what has been happening off screen.
Sandro explains: “It’s a fascinating time of change in Hollywood where the sexual harassment scandals have hit Los Angeles like an earthquake and are bringing about some long overdue positive changes in the industry.
“From the fall of Harvey Weinstein to the rise of the #TimesUp movement there’s a whole lot more to discuss and debate than who looks best on the red carpet.”
Another huge global event is the upcoming royal wedding and Sandro has certainly caught Meghan Markle fever judging by his recent reports about her on CNN.
“It’s great to see this bright, beautiful and media savvy American making the royals look modern and cool rather than stuffy and stuck in the past,” he says.
Showbiz royalty has been a big part of Sandro’s life and he’s interviewed some of the biggest stars in the world over the years from Madonna to Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney to George Clooney.
So at home is he now in the palm tree lined streets of Tinseltown that he created and guides the top rated Celebrity Insider Movie Locations Tour of Los Angeles with tour company Tourific Escapes.
But the tourist getaway he is most looking forward to himself this year is his annual visit to Blackpool in April, where his mum Virginia still lives and where his world view was shaped.
“I got my love of showbiz from all those great shows at the piers, Grand and Opera House.
“I can’t imagine anywhere better to grow up and I’m so proud of Blackpool and am always spreading the word about it here in L.A.
“I try and describe it as like Santa Monica only with donkeys. But such is the power of movies that most people I mention it to in Los Angeles know Blackpool as the location from films like Funny Bones and, more recently, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
“It’s such a cinematic place, maybe one day I’ll write a movie set there.”
Sandro is also acting in a romantic comedy film out in the States now and coming to the UK soon, called For The Love of George (as in Clooney) playing, what else, a TV celebrity reporter.
He says, “There’s never a dull moment but when your dreams are as big as Blackpool Tower, anything is possible.”