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'Hello Ross!' host Ross Mathews feels 'almost Canadian'

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TORONTO - Bubbly American TV personality Ross Mathews says he feels a kinship with Canada and fondly recalls taking trips to B.C. when he was growing up.

"I feel like I'm almost Canadian," the perpetually cheery Mathews, who grew up in Mount Vernon, Wash., said in a telephone interview to tout season 2 of his talk show "Hello Ross!," which starts Friday on E!

"We used to come up all the time to Vancouver. We went to Expo '86 back in the day. ... I remember going on rides and I remember stomping on a mustard packet and accidentally spraying this girl's white jeans in mustard and I'll never forget.

"I felt guilty about it. I wish I could track her down and apologize."

"Hello Ross!" sees Mathews — who rose to fame doing comical red carpet bits as Ross the Intern on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" — doing celebrity interviews and other humorous segments in front of a studio audience.

Season 1 guests included Gwyneth Paltrow, who is a friend to Mathews and wrote the foreword for his 2013 book "Man Up! Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence."

"In season 2 it's about bigger, better, more," said Mathews from Los Angeles, where he does red-carpet reporting for E!

"We even have a brand new set, because the last one was put together with like a roll of quarters and a Band-Aid and a bucket of paint. This one is, like, E! dropped some coin, some major money on it."

The new set will still have personal touches from the old one, including a photo of his two dogs — a Chihuahua and Maltipoo — and his gold microphone, a.k.a his Golden Girl.

As the ardent fan of "Golden Girls" and garage sales explains it, "everything about the show is personal."

"This is a journey I started when I was eight years old and I decided I wanted to be a talk show host and I just kind of always made every choice to get here," said Mathews.

"Even behind the scenes, the writer on my show is my best friend from high school, the producer is my college roommate, a lot of the people who worked on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' with me ... have now come over to work with me here."

Mathews even has his boyfriend, stylist Salvador Camarena, put together his outfits for the show.

"When this is your canvas, when my body is what you've got to work with, it's hard to make it look good and he does such a great job," he said with his signature high-pitched giggle.

The first guest of season 2 is Brandi Glanville, a cast member on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" who's gone through a highly publicized divorce from actor Eddie Cibrian.

"We're going to be the eye of the storm, major drama, major scandal," said Mathews. "We're going to get the truth. And I love the drama."

Among the Canadian guests he's gunning for? Celine Dion.

"I am dying, begging, screaming to get her on the show," said Mathews. "Can you imagine the explosion that would happen if I had Celine Dion on my show?"

Mathews said he's "had that brain" for all things pop culture since he was young.

"There's into pop culture and then there's IN to pop culture and I've just always loved it."

He knows he's not alone, added Mathews, noting "more people care than don't" about show business.

"There's a lot to it and we care about it. And, like, don't apologize for caring about the Kardashians. Don't apologize."

Mathews recalled being fascinated as a kid with talk show hosts including Oprah Winfrey, Ricki Lake, Jenny Jones and Rosie O'Donnell, whom he calls a mentor.

"When they would toss to commercial I would run to the TV and turn the volume down and I'd toss it to commercial for them," he said.

"Rosie has always sort of been the closest thing that I can explain to what I want to do with my talk show," he added.

"I remember as a kid watching her thinking she's otherworldly but accessible at the same time."

The goal with his own talk show: Having a connection with guests and making viewers feel "so welcome, whoever you are."

"I've always thought this should be a show for superfans of pop culture," he said. "I thought there were too many shows paring down pop culture talking about how stupid it is, but I don't even care.

"I love this stuff, I think people love this stuff and at 'Hello Ross!' we talk it out together."

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