CONVERSATION: Jerry Penacoli

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Jerry Penacoli on the set of “Daytime” on WFLA.

JERRY PENACOLI

TV personality goes from the Red Carpet to Old Northeast

BY CINDY COCKBURN

The last time I saw Jerry Penacoli, he had just finished taping a segment with co-host Cyndi Edwards on the set of the NBC  “Daytime” show and getting ready to fly to the Sundance Film Festival. The last we spoke he was getting ready to fly to LA and attend the Academy Awards to interview the winners backstage.

Who is this guy with the big smile paid to chat with celebrities daily?  He has been a host on “Extra” since August of  2000. The daily syndicated newsmagazine delivers the latest in celebrity buzz, and he covers the latest events in the entertainment industry. He’s been the co-host on the syndicated NBC morning television program which is produced in Tampa and seen in more than 130 U.S. markets, for five years.

 

 

 You’ve mingled with celebs around the world, who would you like to interview that you have not met yet?

I’ve been so privileged to interview every star in the world from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to George Clooney and Julia Roberts, but perhaps the highlight of my career thus far was when I was invited to Washington D.C. to interview then-sitting President Barack Obama in summer of 2015 in the White House Rose Garden.  To top that?  Well, I’d love to interview Pope Francis, and so would my Mom!

You could live in New York City or LA. Why St. Pete?

 

 I decided to relocate from Los Angeles to St. Pete in the beginning of 2013 for family reasons. My sister and brother-in-law were living in Tampa, and my mom was in the Orlando area, and her health was beginning to decline, so it was time to reprioritize and I never looked back.  I chose St. Petersburg over Tampa because I fell in love with the Historic Old Northeast and St. Pete’s beautiful waterfront.  The walkability to everything downtown is a major bonus, and to have our wonderful restaurants, shops, museums and galleries right outside my door, it couldn’t be a better location!

Where do you take your visitors in downtown St. Pete?

 Walking and biking through town and along North Shore Trail is a regular occurrence.  My partner and I are both artists, so exploring the local art scene is something we love and want to do even more.  We love The Mill, Sea Salt, Farm Table Cucina, just for starters.  And we take out-of-towners first to The Canopy at sunset, then somewhere on Beach Drive for dinner, then a leisurely walk home.  We do love going to Sundial and grabbing a quick bite at Locale, then heading to a movie.  We love all the outdoor cafes, Stillwater Tavern, and The Wooden Rooster are particular favorites. 

 

Penacoli is an avid artist in his spare time./Photo Barry Lively

 You travel so much. Do you have any down time?

 Any down time I have after working two jobs, “Daytime” and “Extra” simultaneously, I like to head up to our home art studio and paint. Cooking at home is the norm, frankly.  We are both homebodies who enjoy our porch life at the house.  We’re lucky to have a getaway place in Longboat Key, as well, and we love the quiet and solitude of that beach.

 Congratulations! We heard you are getting married here in St. Pete in March. How did you meet?

 

I met Jackson in Los Angeles three years ago, and after a lengthy long distance relationship, he finally got smart and relocated to St. Pete.  We are so thrilled to be tying the knot at the Museum of Fine Arts this spring.

 You also paint! I saw your artwork on display during the grand opening of Patina, Laura Fage’s new store on Central Avenue.

I have many a passion:  painting, music (I play piano), acting.  Anything creative.  My art is a reflection of memories from my travels, and also from snapshots I take along the way. 

What’s your favorite thing to do in St. Pete?

It’s so difficult to say what part of St. Pete is my “favorite” when I love all things about this city.  My friends joke that I should work for the city some day!  There’s never a dull moment here with all of our outdoor activities, the arts scene, events like the Grand Prix, the music scene, live concerts.  So I love it all, and I’m so happy to call St. Pete my adopted city.  A city I’ve seen change for the better even in just the last five years I’ve been here.