Q&A: Maria Menounos, Host of ‘Extra!’ and Star of New Movie ‘Adventures of Serial Buddies’
Menounos talks about her upcoming film and docu-series, Dancing with the Stars memories, and her favorite places to go in Boston.
Image via Insidethemagic/Flickr
Known best for being the co-host of Extra!, Maria Menounos is a Medford native and graduate of Emerson College. Within the past year, she has appeared on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, produced and starred in her new movie Adventures of Serial Buddies, and is now producing her own docu-series on OXYGEN that begins shooting next month. In spite of her Hollywood life, she’s managed to keep true to her Boston roots and tells us about her California life as well as her favorite spots in Boston.
Congrats on your upcoming film, Adventures of Serial Buddies. As a comedy film, what was it like working with Kathie Lee Gifford?
Well, we originally cast her daughter, Cassidy, and Kathie Lee drove her to the set that day when Kevin [Undergaro, producer and Menounos's longtime boyfriend] looked at me and said, “Will you go ask Kathie if she’ll be in the movie?” I said, “No! It’s her day off, I’m not bothering her!” Her daughter overheard, and said, “Mom, you have to do it!” And Kathie goes, “Do what?” Kevin wrote the scene on set. He put it together so quickly and she completely went for it. We had so much fun with her.
You worked with Beth Behrs of Two Broke Girls as well?
Yes. Beth was also amazing. Kevin cast her in our movie, and she was incredible. Of course she has gone on to be a superstar and we’re incredibly proud of her. Kevin and I told them all when we embarked on the journey, “This is going to be tough. We’re trying to do a lot with a little. We’re going to need all hands on deck.”
We said, “We run our lives and our businesses like Bill Belichick does with the New England Patriots.” And everybody was like, “What’s that?” And we said, “Everybody plays multiple positions. We’re expecting everybody to pitching in when you can.” And they did! Beth was PAing and helping in every way, as did the cast. And we became one big family because of it.
We heard that you’ll be producing and starring in your own docu-series for OXYGEN. Will the premise of the show delve into your personal life?
It’s a little bit of everything. What makes us different is that we’re kind of fish-out-of-water in this whole experience. My parents live with us most of the year and we all work together [on the house and on set], so we don’t have the typical Hollywood life—other than the fact that we work in it and yes, we’re afforded so many wonderful opportunities because of it. The whole marriage-and-kids topic is definitely a big part of the show because Kevin and I will have been together 15 years this April, and we’re not married and we don’t have kids. My parents are definitely pressuring for both.
Will the show take a look at your professional life as well?
The cameras will definitely be at Extra! tapings to take a look behind the scenes. That’s obviously super interesting, too.
ABC recently cast another Boston-area native in its next season of Dancing with the Stars, gymnast Aly Raisman. After spending a season on the competition show yourself, do you have any advice for Aly?
I always have loyalty to Derek [Hough, Menounos' former dance partner on DWTS], so I’ll always root for him. But I have Boston loyalty, too, so I’m going to support Aly as well. I would tell her to call me! She already has a leg up in the competition because she has the endurance of an Olympic athlete and she’s very fit, which is hard. It took me a while to get my cardio and endurance up to par. Try to protect yourself from injuries, and also have fun. Do your best, work really hard—I’m sure she’s not a stranger to both. Go out. Party. Enjoy every bit of it.
So you definitely surprised yourself while on DWTS?
Yes! It was one of the greatest experiences of my entire life. No one I know, including myself, thought I would be able to hang in, or even be good at this. I also had several fractures in my feet and two broken ribs at the start of the season and into the first week on television. So I played injured the entire time! Kevin had said to me, “You’re so strong, you’re so tough.” And I didn’t believe him, but then I realized it’s not all about being physically tough, but mentally tough. After that experience I knew I can do anything. There is now nothing I can’t do.
Our current issue at Boston magazine is the Best Places to Live in 2013. As a native of Medford, what are your favorite places to visit in Boston?
Well obviously Medford. Medford is rich in history like most of Boston. There are different little food spots that I love: Bob’s on Main Street [in Medford]—the best steak and cheese subs you’re ever going to have. I think Boston has the greatest pizza—I still have not had great pizza in New York. Pizzeria Regina in Boston has the best pizza on the planet—I actually ship it to L.A. for us to enjoy. We’re heading to Boston on Saturday, so we’ll be stopping at Pizzeria Regina for lunch. I love the Public Garden, too. It’s one of my favorite places to walk around and meditate and relax. And I love the Boston Garden! Going to see a Celtics game is one of my favorite things to do back home. Oh, and Daddy Jones Bar in Somerville is an amazing hot spot that we’ll definitely hit up this weekend as well.