Journalism

Glamorama

April, 2001 | Boston Herald / CPI Media

Probably the most attractive woman to ever give me the time of day. I was an hour late to the interview, but she was gracious about it.

During the Q&A portion of the 1996 Miss Teen USA Pageant, host Bob Goen asked Medford native Maria Menounos what she wanted to do with her career. A natural in front of the camera lens, Menounos, now 23, kept her composure and answered, “Work with you on E.T., Bob.”

Six years later, Menounos – who went on to win that pageant and launch her career in broadcast journalism – has fulfilled that prediction, joining Goen and co-host Mary Hart as the latest on-air correspondent for the long-running “Entertainment Tonight” program.

After being named Miss Teen USA, Menounos delved into various movie projects while attending Emerson College. After Emerson, she landed a job as a reporter and eventually anchor at Channel One, a closed-circuit news program geared to roughly 8 million school students.

About three months ago, the 1996 Medford High School graduate was released from her three-year contract at Channel One – for which she interviewed everyone from George W. Bush to South African street children – a year early so she could take the position at “E.T.”

When she met up with again with Goen, Menounos reminded him of their first encounter.

“When he heard that, his jaw just dropped,” said Menounos by phone from her Los Angeles home. “They said, `You must really be driven.'”

In her first two weeks at “E.T.,” Menounos has already gone to a Maxim magazine party and interviewed celebrities, including “The Osbournes” star Kelly Osbourne, for “E.T. on MTV.” Her biggest gig yet, the “Spider-Man” premier at world-famous Mann’s Chinese Theatre, allowed her to meet movies star Will Smith and an old professional wrestling hero of hers, “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

In her past broadcast journalism experience, Menounos’ press credentials didn’t exactly wow celebrities on the red carpet. At “E.T.,” she said, the experience is entirely opposite – people come to her.

“The cool thing about `E.T.’ is that (celebrities) want to be interviewed,” she said. “They make me the first stop on the red carpet. They come and talk to me.”

Her contract with E.T. is for three years but, as with every new correspondent, Menounos is evaluated on a 13-week basis.

On another front, Menounos is now the director what she calls a movie-making company with a conscience. Called Take Action Hollywood, the non-profit organization was set up to create films with substance that delve into some of the issues facing the country. The company is working on its first film, yet untitled, which will deal with AIDS.

During the Q&A portion of the 1996 Miss Teen USA Pageant, host Bob Goen asked Medford native Maria Menounos what she wanted to do with her career. A natural in front of the camera lens, Menounos, now 23, kept her composure and answered, “Work with you on E.T., Bob.”

“(We want) to get people talking about the disease again,” said Menounos.

The film, she said, will be “shocking in the right way” to combat, as Take Action Hollywood spokesperson Kevin Strassberg refers to it, “youthful arrogance” about chances of contracting the disease. The entire project is funded through donations given by celebrities. The hope is to bankroll each new movie with the proceeds from the last.
Menounos has “people” now – a publicist, an agent and a manager/boyfriend, Kevin Indigaro, who is also from Medford and worked as a writer on MTV’s “Singled Out.” All in all, things are looking up for the tall brunette who has questions for the stars.

“Life is good,” she said. “I’m in a very happy place. My boyfriend is so ultra supportive – he does everything down to the dishes. My life is de-stressed right now.”

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