Maria Menounos

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Maria Menounos
Maria Menounos Heart Truth 3.jpg
Menounos modeling at The Heart Truth Fashion Show in February 2008
Born (1978-06-08) June 8, 1978 (age 36)
Medford, Massachusetts, U.S.
Alma mater Emerson College (2000) [1]
Occupation actress, journalist, television presenter, professional wrestler
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Title Miss Massachusetts Teen USA 1996
Partner(s) Keven Undergaro
(1998–present)

Maria Menounos (born June 8, 1978)[2][3][4] is an American actress, journalist, TV hostess, and occasional professional wrestler. She is known in the United States for her appearances as a TV correspondent for Today, Access Hollywood, Extra, and abroad for co-hosting the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 in Athens, Greece.

Early life and beauty pageants[edit]

Menounos was born in Medford, Massachusetts, to her Greek immigrant parents Costas and Litsa Menounos.[5] She has a younger brother, Peter Menounos.[6] She is fluent in the Greek language. From the age of 13 through 19, she was an employee of Dunkin' Donuts.[7] Menounos attended the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Somerville, Massachusetts. Menounos attended Medford High School in Medford, Massachusetts.

In 1995, Menounos began to compete in beauty pageants. The following year, she won the title of Miss Massachusetts Teen USA, and she competed at Miss Teen USA where she placed in the top 15, receiving an honorary mention, during the preliminary competition. Menounos placed 13th in preliminaries. The pageant was won by Christie Lee Woods. Maria competed for the title of Miss Massachusetts USA 2000. She was the first runner-up.

Film and television career[edit]

Menounos poses for a photograph with the U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jared Thompson at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar (2008)

Later Menounos attended Boston's Emerson College where she participated in the now award-winning organization, Emerson Independent Video. She graduated from Emerson in 2000.[1] During her senior year, she was hired as a reporter for Channel One News. Her work for Channel One's 10-minute segments included traveling to El Salvador to report on the 2001 El Salvador earthquakes, interviewing NATO aircrew members aboard an E-3 AWACS plane while flying a combat air patrol mission during the military alliance's Operation Eagle Assist and interviewing President George W. Bush.

Entertainment Tonight hired Menounos as a correspondent in 2002, where she reported on movies, music and fashion. ET executives offered her a hosting gig for ET on MTV and VH1. She left the program in 2005 to focus on her acting career, though she would eventually join rival program Access Hollywood later that Fall as a special correspondent.[8] She went on to co-host a few episodes of the Today show in the late summer and fall of 2006 as well as in April 2007. In 2003, Menounos appeared on the November 30 episode of Punk'd where she was one of many celebrities caught in the awkward and embarrassing "Red Carpet Interviews".

Menounos at the 2014 Kaleidoscope Ball

In 2004, Menounos appeared in an episode of the UPN series One on One as Glenda, an eccentric, self-proclaimed "Fairy Godmother to the Stars". In the summer of 2005, she appeared in the comic book film Fantastic Four, where she played a nurse who is romanced by the "Human Torch", played by Chris Evans. Her likeness and voice was featured in the 2005 Electronic Arts video game, From Russia with Love as Eva Adara, Red Grant's henchwoman, which stars Sean Connery as James Bond. She is also the spokesperson for Pantene hair products. Menounos presented the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest (along with Greek singer Sakis Rouvas) that took place in Athens.[9]

As an actress, Menounos had recurring roles on the CBS-TV program Without a Trace and as Jules in the second season of The CW's One Tree Hill (during its run on The WB). Menounos also appeared on the Scrubs episode "My Extra Mile", which aired in May 2006 where she is attracted to John Dorian because she likes his hair. In 2006, Menounos appeared in the music video for "A Public Affair" by Jessica Simpson. On April 27, 2007, Menounos starred in Kickin' It Old Skool. In 2007, Menounos continued in her run as international spokesperson doing print and television commercials for Pantene hair products as well as print ads for New York & Company. From December 17 to December 20, 2007, Menounos hosted the reality game show miniseries Clash of the Choirs.

Menounos at the 81st Academy Awards in February 2009

In 2008, she became the host of Hollywood Green on the Planet Green network.[citation needed] In 2008, she had a role in the movie Tropic Thunder, and in the same year became the first (and to date the only) journalist to interview the entire Obama family as a whole. She also reported for NBC Nightly News.

In May 2008, she played in the AVP Cuervo Gold Crown Huntington Beach Open, but was eliminated in the qualifying round.[citation needed] On July 13, 2008, Menounos starred in the celebrity softball game at Yankee Stadium in New York. In November 2008, when Richard Belzer fell ill, she filled in as host for the North Shore Animal League's Dogcatemy Celebrity Gala, which takes place at NYC's Capitale.[10] From 2009 to 2012, she hosted various reunion specials of MTV's The Real World and The Challenge. Menounos appeared on the 2008 Knight Rider series episode "Fly By Knight", which aired on February 11, 2009 where she played a DEA agent who is in charge of investigating a plane crash.

On August 4, 2011, it was announced that she is joining Warner Bros.'s Extra, where she will co-host the show with Mario Lopez. She'll also have on-air duties at Dr. Drew's Lifechangers, and will develop new projects.[11]

She was a contestant on the 14th season of Dancing with the Stars partnering with Derek Hough.[12] The couple were eliminated on May 15, 2012, ending up in 4th place.

In May 2014, Maria signed a multi-year contract with E! Entertainment, where she will host and produce several programs.

World Wrestling Entertainment (2009–present)[edit]

Menounos celebrates her victory at Wrestlemania XXVIII in 2012

Menounos is a long-time WWE fan and has made several appearances with the promotion. Menounos' first appearance came on October 12, 2009, when Menounos joined Nancy O'Dell in guest hosting WWE Raw. She made her in-ring debut that night in a six diva tag team match with Gail Kim and Kelly Kelly against Alicia Fox, Beth Phoenix, and Rosa Mendes; Menounos's team was victorious, with the match highlighted by Menounos slapping the much larger-statured Phoenix.[13][14]

On December 11, 2011, at WWE Tribute to the Troops, Menounos returned and teamed with Alicia Fox, Eve Torres, and Kelly Kelly to defeat the team of The Bella Twins (Brie and Nikki) and The Divas of Doom (Beth Phoenix and Natalya).[15]

Menounos continued her feud with WWE Divas Champion Beth Phoenix after Phoenix and Eve Torres interrupted an interview segment with Kelly Kelly on Extra. This led to tag team match at Wrestlemania XXVIII with Menounos teaming with Kelly Kelly to take on Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres.[16] Despite legitimately suffering two cracked ribs during practice for Dancing with the Stars before the match,[17] Menounos and Kelly were successful in defeating Phoenix and Eve on April 1, 2012, at Wrestlemania, with Menounos pinning Phoenix for the win.[18]

On April 6, 2013, at Madison Square Garden, Menounos inducted Bob Backlund into the WWE Hall of Fame.[19] On August 18, 2013 at Summerslam Axxess, Menounos teamed with Natalya to defeat Brie Bella and Eva Marie.[20]

On August 17, 2014, Menounos was seen at the SummerSlam pay-per-view, appearing in the crowd and later in a backstage segment with Stephanie McMahon, who accepted Menounos's challenge for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Menounos was actually nominated in the first place by McMahon's father and chairman of WWE, Vince McMahon.

Personal life[edit]

Menounos has been in a relationship with director and producer Keven Undergaro since April 1998.[5]

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2005 Fantastic Four Sexy Nurse
2006 Fwiends.com Gladys Short film
2007 Kickin' It Old Skool Jennifer Major role
2007 In the Land of Merry Misfits Risandra Voice role
2008 Tropic Thunder Herself Cameo appearance
2011 Serial Buddies Katelyn
2013 Paranormal Movie Dr. Luni

Television[edit]

Television
Year Title Role Notes
1990 Channel One News Herself Host
2002–2005 Entertainment Tonight Herself Correspondent
2002 Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Reporter #1 Episode: "Free Sabrina"
2003 Without a Trace Chris Sanders Episode: "Trip Box"
2003 Punk'd Herself 1 episode
2004 One on One Glenda Episode: "We'll Take Manhattan"
2004–2005 One Tree Hill Emily "Jules" Chambers 10 episodes
2005–2011 Access Hollywood Herself Correspondent
2006 Eurovision Song Contest 2006 Herself Co-host
2006 Scrubs Tamara Episode: "My Extra Mile"
2006 Entourage Herself Episode: "Aquamom"; cameo appearance
2007 Clash of the Choirs Herself Host
2009 Knight Rider DEA Agent Jessie Renning Episode: "Fly by Knight"
2009–2011 The Challenge Herself Host of Reunion episodes
2009–2011 The Real World Herself Host of Reunion episodes
2009 WWE Raw Co-Host/Herself TV special
2010 Entourage Herself Episode: "Buzzed"; cameo appearance
2011–2014 Extra Herself Host
2011 Funny or Die Presents Talk Show Host "Paco Dances" segment
2012 Sesame Street Herself Episode: "The All of Our Senses Club"; cameo appearance
2012 Dancing with the Stars Herself Season 14 contestant
2012 WrestleMania XXVIII Herself Performed With Kelly Kelly Defeated Beth Phoenix and Eve
2012 Louie Entertainment News Anchor Episode: "Late News: Part 2 & 3"
2012–2013 The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange Herself Guest appearance
2013 WWE Hall of Fame Herself - Inductor Inducted Bob Backlund
2013 The Mindy Project Herself 2 episodes
2013 The Eric Andre Show Herself Guest appearance
2013-2014 Nashville Herself 2 episodes
2014 Chasing Maria Menounos Herself Lead role
2014 Bar Rescue Herself Episode: "Scoreboard to Death"
2014 WWE Hall of Fame Herself Co-Host of the Red Carpet Pre-Show on the WWE Network
2014 Ridiculousness Herself Guest
2014 Untold Herself Host

Production[edit]

At the age of 17, Menounos produced In the Land of Merry Misfits, an independent film fairy tale. The 35 mm feature film was produced by Menounos while attending Emerson College with director Keven Undergaro, then head writer for MTV's Singled Out. The negative of the film was stolen and the film was never completed but her work on the film, and the film's director, helped her land her reporting job at Channel One News and at MTV (ET on MTV). Menounos, however, never forgot the film or the film's director. In 2005, Menounos personally funded the recovery and restoration of the film, which was narrated by John Waters and starred an eclectic group in the Waters vein — including former WWE champion Bob Backlund, actress Josie Davis from the TV show Charles in Charge and B-movie icon Randal Malone. The film premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.

Menounos also directed Longtime Listener starring Wilmer Valderrama. The film was an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival 2006. Menounos acted in and produced Adventures of Serial Buddies, which is credited with being the first serial killer buddy comedy.[21] In May 2013 Menounos launched a new interview series called Conversations with Maria,[22] with Zoe Saldana being her first guest. Menounos also continues to maintain AfterBuzzTV, which is an online entertainment broadcast network that she founded with partner Keven Undergaro. And AfterBuzzTV has quickly gained prominence as a pioneer in digital broadcasting and now covers over 200 series with an astounding audience of over 20 million each week to more than 100 countries.[23]

Menounos' creation of AfterBuzzTV as a digital media innovator has also earned her the distinct honor of being named the 2014 CES Entertainment Matters Ambassador in Las Vegas.[24]

On March 18, 2014, Maria's new reality series premiered on the Oxygen Network entitled "Chasing Maria Menounos". The show is emotional and comedic as it follows Maria and long-time boyfriend Keven Undergaro's fast-paced life and chronicles the tough decisions and obstacles that arise while dealing with career and family matters with her traditional Greek immigrant parents that namely demand she gets married and has children.[25]

Popular awards[edit]

Menounos appeared in FHM magazine and in People magazine in 2004 as one of the "50 Most Beautiful People." In another poll conducted by askmen.com, Menounos was voted one of the top five girls a guy would most want to marry, along with Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron and Jessica Alba. She has also beaten Jessica Alba and Charlize Theron for "Cyber Vixen of the Year" on Spike TV's video game awards. On August 8, 2010 she won the Madden NFL Pro-AM MVP award. She also won MadTV's "Smokin' Hot TV Personality" Award for 2010.

Charity work[edit]

Menounos founded the charity "Take Action Hollywood!" after her trip to South Africa. Reporting on the devastating effects of the AIDS crisis she was inspired to create TAH!, a charity that utilizes the power of the entertainment industry and the medium of film to affect for positive social change. Maria also created the Cosmo Girl Cup, a national, annual competition and award given to the group of teens who do the most in their communities to affect for positive social change. Menounos presented at the Earth Day Network's Climate Rally in Washington, DC on April 25, 2010. She encouraged people to go green and threw carrots into the crowd. Menounos acted as the Masters of Ceremony for the First Annual Los Angeles CureSearch Walk for Children's Cancer held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on October 24, 2010.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Loftus, Jamie, "Up close with TV's Menounos '00", Emerson College Today, April 19, 2011
  2. ^ "Maria Menounos: Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved 2013-04-10. 
  3. ^ "Maria Menounos- Biography". Yahoo. Retrieved 2013-04-10. 
  4. ^ "13 Questions with Maria Menounos". AskMen. Retrieved 2013-04-10. 
  5. ^ a b Cosgrove Baylis, Sheila (24 March 2014). "Maria Menounos Is Leaving Extra". People. 
  6. ^ "Maria Menounos's Greek Christmas". 
  7. ^ "The Big Idea Interview w/Donny Deutsch". 
  8. ^ "Maria Menounos joins 'Access Hollywood' and 'Today'". USA Today. 2005-08-23. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  9. ^ "In pictures: Eurovision 2006". BBC News. 2006-05-21. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  10. ^ "View Co-Hosts Dish to OK! About Sherri - OK! Magazine - The First for Celebrity News". OK! Magazine. 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  11. ^ "Menounos to Co-Host 'Extra' - 2011-08-04 16:31:47 | Broadcasting & Cable". Broadcastingcable.com. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  12. ^ "New Dancing with the Stars cast revealed". abcnewsgo.com. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  13. ^ "Fights, camera, Access!". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-09-05. [dead link]
  14. ^ Dick, Marcia (2009-10-14). "Menounos stands tall in ring, and stands up for Medford". Boston.com. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  15. ^ "CALDWELL'S WWE TRIBUTE TO THE TROOPS REPORT 12/13: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of USA Network special". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  16. ^ Wortman, James (2012-03-16). "Beth: "I will Glam Slam you into tomorrow!"". WWE. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  17. ^ Watkins, Jade (2012-04-01). "She's a tough cookie! Maria Menounos gets into the WWE ring to wrestle not one but TWO women despite having broken ribs". Dailymail. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  18. ^ Artus, Matthew (2012-04-02). "Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos def. Divas Champion Beth Phoenix & Eve". WWE. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  19. ^ "Maria Menounos to induct Bob Backlund into the WWE Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2013-04-08. 
  20. ^ "SUMMERSLAM PPV RESULTS: Quick rundown of match results". 
  21. ^ http://www.serialbuddies.com/
  22. ^ "Menounos Launches New Interview Series". Retrieved 2013-05-30. 
  23. ^ Graser, Marc. "VARIETY". Retrieved 1-6-2014.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  24. ^ Stedman, Alex. "VARIETY October 2013". Retrieved 2013-10-22. 
  25. ^ "Menounos Launches New Reality Series". Retrieved 2014-03-09. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Erika Ewald
Miss Massachusetts Teen USA
1996
Succeeded by
Jessica Gregory
Preceded by
Ukraine Maria Efrosinina & Pavlo Shylko
Eurovision Song Contest presenter
(with Sakis Rouvas)
2006
Succeeded by
Finland Mikko Leppilampi & Jaana Pelkonen