Medford’s favorite daughter talks about her dancing days, celebrity crushes and which places are bumpin’ in Boston.
Renaissance woman Maria Menounos was born and raised in Medford and graduated from Emerson College. She hosts the entertainment news program Extra and is the creator of AfterBuzzTV and the author of The Everygirl’s Guide to Life. She was the youngest person ever to host Entertainment Tonight, the Today show and the Nightly News, and is the only journalist to have conducted an interview with the entire Obama family. Menounos sang in front of 600 million viewers at the Eurovision Music Competition Awards and placed fourth on the past season of Dancing With the Stars. She founded
the charity Take Action Hollywood! and is a Diabetes Awareness Ambassador. She lives in Los Angeles.
Who’s the next celebrity train wreck?
[Laughs.]I don’t know. The current celebrity train wrecks seem to be holding on, so there isn’t a heck of a lot of room.
Celebrity you’re most sick of reporting on?
More than Kim Kardashian?
No. Kim’s my friend. She’s a very successful working woman who had an unfortunate marriage, which a lot of people go through. There’s no comparison.
Was Dancing With the Stars the most grueling workout of your life?
Absolutely. I never, ever realized what kind of body you can get from dancing. A dancer’s body is crazy, and I’m not someone who’s ever had a real workout routine. I just sort of did what I could when I could. I’m pretty lucky to begin with in that department, but now I want to maintain the shape I got into. It’ll definitely involve more dancing.
What’s up with your foot?
You mean my feet? The last time I had an MRI done during the show, I had three stress fractures in my left foot and two in my right. The good news is that I went to the doctor this week and had a new MRI done, and three of the five fractures have healed. I’m doing everything I’m supposed to, including not wearing too-cute shoes.
Think you were robbed by not winning the show?
No. It was a super-competitive season, and I’m happy with how it worked out. I’m proud of myself. I overcame a lot of injuries and fought like the Bostonian I am, and I did every single dance possible on that show.
Think the show is rigged?
If William [Levy] had won, maybe I’d think that. [Laughs.] No, it’s definitely not.
Fantasy dance partner?
I don’t want to dance with anyone but Derek Hough.
Red-carpet beauty secret?
I have this product called Jemma Kidd, a body glimmer, but it’s not cheesy. It just gives you this nice glow. I’ve used so many beauty products, and even the Dancing With the Stars makeup people were blown away by it. I’m obsessed with it.
Anyone who makes you starstruck?
I get starstruck with wrestlers. I grew up watching it, and at WrestleMania I got so giddy.
Wrestling is TOTALLY fixed.
No. Wrestling is a sports entertainment show. And that’s all I’m gonna say.
Who’d win Jell-O wrestling: you or Giuliana Rancic?
Me, of course. I love her, and even though she’s a feisty strong Italian, I’m a stronger Greek, and I know wrestling. She couldn’t take me.
Jessica Alba and Charlize Theron ate your dust as Cybervixen of the Year at the Spike Video Game Awards in 2005. Do they snub you on the red carpet?
I remember interviewing Charlize not long after, and she gave me a little s***. It was so funny.
Worst red-carpet faux pas?
Fashion-wise? I wore a dress to a VH1 thing, and there was no way to wear a bra with it. It was backless. So I wore pasties, and lo and behold, the dress was completely see-through with the lights on the red carpet. You can see the pasties that just look like big nipples, and I ended up in Playboy magazine because of it.
Big Hollywood event that’s the most fun to cover?|
The Super Bowl. It’s both a Hollywood event and the greatest sporting event. It’s so much fun. Of course, I like it better when the Patriots are there. In fact, you’ll appreciate this: Mr. Kraft was here, and we were trying to meet, and he was going to come by the Improper photo shoot, where I was watching the Celtics game. It was pretty awesome.
Is there a piece of Hollywood gossip you know to be true but could never report?
Lots. Don’t get me drunk. [Laughs.] Just kidding.
Person you’d most like to make over?
Everyone! When I was doing my book tour for The Everygirl’s Guide to Life, I wanted to do makeovers as part of it. I wanted to do one in every city. I’d like to do a makeover on a vet who really needs it. That would be rewarding.
Do you take your own advice from your book?
I do, but sometimes I need reminders. My boyfriend looked at me the other day and said, “You need to reread your book. You’re getting disorganized again.”
Not to step on Stacy [Keibler]’s toes, because she’s a good friend of mine, but I’ll say George Clooney, because he’s a great filmmaker and a great actor, and I really admire his skill. He’s a true philanthropist. He’s charming and courteous. And he’s George Clooney.
I wish I had the magazines in front of me. I could answer really fast. I guess I’d have to go with Björk.
Favorite Hollywood couple?
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. They’re what it should be. They’re a great family. Amazing, normal, down-to-earth, genuine people. They love each other. I look up to them.
Best perk of your job?
It’s different every day, and I get to try really crazy things I probably otherwise wouldn’t get to do. Sing backup for Justin Bieber? Be a Dolly Parton impersonator in Vegas? Who wouldn’t love to do that?
Maria’s Personal Boston’s Best List
Date Spot: “The Public Garden. It’s peaceful, beautiful and romantic, both day and night. At night, the bridge and statues are lit up, and the stars are above you. In the day, the spectacular landscaping and the birds. It’s just one of my favorite places.”
Greek Food: “My mother’s kitchen.”
Pizza: “Regina Pizzeria. I go to the one in Medford, not the original North End one, and it’s awesome. I do like Greek pizza, too, and I’m thinking of opening a Greek pizza place in L.A., ’cause they don’t have good pizza here.”
Place to Shop: “Charles Street is cute, but Newbury Street has Ben & Jerry’s, so it’s a tough call.”
Hangout: “In a month, I’ll be going to the opening of my friend’s bar in Somerville, on the border of Medford. It’s called Daddy Jones.”
Undiscovered Treasure: “The problem is that if I discover something amazing, I tell everybody about it. But I’ll go with Emerson’s Paramount Center. They have an amazing theater, a black box theater, a screening room where they do film series. It’s very cool.”
Nightspot: “The Liberty Hotel. I remember the first time I came in, it was a Friday, and I was like, ‘Whoa! This place is bumpin’!’ I love that it’s not just a hotel. I love the restaurants. I love being able to stumble back to my room after a night out with my friends. And Calvin Cherry, who takes care of me there, is the most amazing human.”
Childhood Hangout: “Well, we always went when it was Brigham’s, but my friends and I still go to Colleen’s in Medford. That’s always a stop. But I have been cheating lately and going to Arlington for Brigham’s.”
Breakfast or Brunch Place: “I’m not a brunch girl. I’m a Dunkin’ Donuts girl. So that’s breakfast.”
Place You Think Everyone Who Comes to Boston Should See: “Well, I got to show the Rock around when he was filming in Boston, and I took him to Bob’s for a steak and cheese and a few other places in Medford. As for historic sites? Paul Revere’s house or the Freedom Trail, but one that a lot of people don’t know about is the Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford.”
Credits: Photographed by Cheyenne Ellis; hair and makeup: Francine Valdivia; wardrobe styling: Melinda Tarbell; assistant stylist: Amber Rhys