Maria Menounos

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Biography

As ambitious as she was beautiful, host-broadcast journalist-actress Maria Menounos gained notoriety with her work as an entertainment news correspondent and engaging personality on the red carpet. A former Miss Massachusetts Teen USA, she focused on broadcast journalism while enrolled at Emerson College, during which time she began working as a reporter for the educational satellite news program "Channel One News." Upon graduation, Menounos …
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Job Title

Actor

Born

June 8, 1978

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As ambitious as she was beautiful, host-broadcast journalist-actress Maria Menounos gained notoriety with her work as an entertainment news correspondent and engaging personality on the red carpet. A former Miss Massachusetts Teen USA, she focused on broadcast journalism while enrolled at Emerson College, during which time she began working as a reporter for the educational satellite news program "Channel One News." Upon graduation, Menounos was recruited by "Entertainment Tonight" (syndicated, 1981- ) in 2002, where she remained until moving to "Access Hollywood" (syndicated, 1996- ) in 2005. Occasional forays into acting included a recurring role on "One Tree Hill" (The WB, 2003-05; The CW, 2006- ), as well as appearances in the features "Fantastic Four" (2005) and "Tropic Thunder" (2008). The following year, she became the first reporter to interview the Obama family together as a correspondent on the "Dateline: Presidential Inauguration Special" (NBC, 2009). An audience favorite - particularly among male viewers - Menounos had proven herself to be far more than just another pretty face through the impressive breadth of her interests and professional efforts.

Born June 8, 1978 into a Greek-American family, Menounos was raised in Medford, MA. In high school, the teen developed a rabid interest in journalism, particularly on the broadcasting end of things. While enrolled at Emerson College in Boston, she produced and provided voice talent for radio shows both on and off campus. Her love of on-air reporting ran deep. By her senior year, she was tapped to join "Channel One News," a news program geared toward school children, where, as an international correspondent, she covered an earthquake in El Salvador and even interviewed President George W. Bush. On top of reporting, the then 17-year-old found time to produce a 35 mm independent film, "In the Land of the Merry Misfits." Unfortunately, the film negative was stolen and the film never completed, but her work on it helped her land future jobs, including the "Channel One" gig. The loyal reporter never forgot the film or the film's director. In 2005, the now financially sound Menounos personally funded the recovery and restoration of the film, expected to be completed in 2006.

At the same time she was using her brains, Menounos was touting her beauty as well, appearing in numerous pageants starting in 1995. A year later, she won the title of Miss Massachusetts Teen USA and competed in Miss Teen USA, where she failed to place. However, as fate would have it, when Menounos was asked by "Entertainment Tonight" reporter Bob Goen what she would like to do when she "grew up," her response was: "I want to work with you at E.T., Bob!" Her wish would, of course, come true six years later when she joined "Entertainment Tonight" (syndicated, 1981- ). Upon graduation, offers proceeded to roll in, including "ET," which she joined as a on-air correspondent in April, 2002. In no time, the self-assured beauty was asked to host "ET on MTV & VH1," a spin-off show which skewed to younger audiences for the sister networks. Her profile continued to rise, following a 2003 appearance on Ashton Kutcher's MTV prank show, "Punk'd" (2003-07), where she was involved in an embarrassing red carpet interview. The up-and-comer left "ET" in 2005 to focus on her acting career, though she would soon sign a deal with NBC Universal, landing a correspondent gig on rival program "Access Hollywood" (1996- ) as well as "The Today Show" (1952- ).

In 2005, Menounos began focusing more on her acting, having already appeared on a 2003 episode of "Without a Trace" (CBS, 2002-09) entitled "Trip Box," and a 2004 episode of UPN's "One on One" (2001-05), entitled "We'll Take Manhattan." She made a brief appearance in the comic adaptation film "The Fantastic Four," playing a sexy nurse flirting with the Human Torch, but her biggest impact was felt on the WB drama, "One Tree Hill," where she played the recurring character of Jules throughout the 2005 season. The following year, she landed a small role on the NBC comedy "Scrubs," in an episode entitled, "My Extra Mile." She also lent her voice talents to the video game, "From Russia with Love," where she played an evil henchwoman opposite the voice of none other than Sean Connery.

Apart from her acting, Menounos stayed in the public eye with a rumored romance with action star Vin Diesel, and a notable splash at the 2004 Oscars, where she wore a $2.5 million dollar diamond-encrusted gown, rumored to be one of the most expensive (and, no doubt, insured) outfits to ever grace a red carpet. Her fresh-faced beauty also landed her an endorsement contract with Pantene Pro-V hair care products as well as a spot on several "hot" lists, including People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2004 and askmen.com's "girls you'd want to marry" (Menounos fell in the top five, along with higher profile babes Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron and Jessica Alba). She even beat megastars Alba and Theron for "Cyber Vixen of the Year" on Spike TV's video game awards. As if life could not get any better for this multi-talented star, she made her directorial debut with the feature film, "Longtime Listener," starring Wilmer Valderrama, an official selection at the 2006 Tribecca Film Festival.

As good as her word, executive-producer Menounos ushered the indie film "In the Land of Merry Misfits" (2007) to the screen as part of that year's Tribeca Film Festival. Still scratching the acting itch on occasion, she played Jamie Kennedy's love interest in the '80s nostalgia comedy "Kickin' It Old Skool" (2007) and made a cameo in the Ben Stiller action-comedy blockbuster "Tropic Thunder" (2008). Along with fellow "Access Hollywood" host, Nancy O'Dell, she appeared on the wrestling mega-event "WWF Raw" (USA, 2005- ) in 2009. Taking part in a six-woman diva tag-team match that featured WWF veterans like Kelly Kelly, Rosa Mendes and Alicia Fox, the out-matched Menounos impressed the rabid audience when she slapped the much more imposing Beth Phoenix and helped her team with the bout. In an equally physically demanding - albeit far less scripted - endeavor, Menounos joined the cast of celebrity contestants on the 14th season of the reality competition series "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ), partnered with two-time mirror ball champion, Derek Hough.

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