Title: Special correspondent, “Access Hollywood”; West Coast contributor, “Today”
Date of birth: June 8, 1978
Place of birth: Stoneham, Mass.
Big break: Landing a job as a reporter for Channel One.
Who knew?? Ms. Menounos worked as a janitor and as a sausage vendor.
From sausage vendor to rising face of NBC Universal, Maria Menounos has just had a personal breakthrough.
“Everybody had been telling me I was a workaholic, and I finally admitted it,” said the special correspondent for “Access Hollywood” and West Coast contributor for “Today.” “But it’s not a bad thing if you love what you’re doing. Yes, I’m exhausted and sometimes I’m overwhelmed, but I don’t ever want to complain, because I’ve worked real jobs and I know what that’s like.”
Since Ms. Menounos joined the NBCU roster in fall 2005 after leaving “Access” arch-rival “Entertainment Tonight,” the budding entrepreneur has been busy managing her production company, Omega Girl. Projects in development include “Melvin and Reed,” a short film and possible sitcom pilot starring brothers Kevin and John Farley, which she’s directing.
She also is the producer of “In the Land of Merry Misfits,” which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, and director-producer of dark comedies “Longtime Listener” and “Fwiends.com.” She also took her first leading film role opposite Jamie Kennedy in “Kickin’ It Old Skool.”
But Ms. Menounos maintains that her love of journalism — whether celebrity or hard news — is what drives her choices.
She began her career as an international correspondent for Channel One News, where she interviewed President Bush and covered global tragedies such as the 2001 earthquake in El Salvador and the AIDS epidemic in South Africa.
In 2001, she became a correspondent for syndicated newsmagazine “Entertainment Tonight,” reporting on film, TV, music and fashion. She also hosted “ET on MTV” and “ET on VH1” before accepting the offer to move to “Access Hollywood” and “Today.”
“To be at NBC and work at both ‘Today’ and ‘Access’ was something I couldn’t pass up,” she said. “I just felt that it was right, and I couldn’t be happier. … I will forever thank ‘ET’ for promoting me the way they did.”
Her work on “Access” has kept her busy, with duties ranging from interviewing Britney Spears to covering the Cannes Film Festival.
“Maria brings passion, energy, smarts and ideas to the table every day,” said Rob Silverstein, executive producer of “Access Hollywood.” “She is funny, has the ‘Access’ attitude, and there is no debate about it, the camera loves her.”
Ms. Menounos spends time off-camera on philanthropic and social issues. She created Take Action Hollywood!, which uses the power of the entertainment industry and the production medium to promote social awareness. She recently worked with Miramax Films through the charity to promote “Paper Clips,” a Holocaust documentary. She also produced TV commercials on AIDS awareness and pet adoption.
As she looks down the road, she said, one of her goals is to host a talk show, “so I can talk about things that are important to me that I don’t get a chance to talk about. But for now, I look at my career year to year and see if I’ve been more successful or accomplished more than I did previously. I don’t know where my path will take me, but I’ll look back each year and make sure I’m moving forward.”
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