Extra host Maria Menounos, 34, might reside in the San Fernando Vally, but practically lives on the red carpet. Her favorite event to cover? “The Oscars. The art of fimmaking is such a passion of mine, ” she enthuses. It’s that passion that landed Menounos at Entertainment Tonight when she was only 24. Now, she’s not only a host but also an author (The EveryGirl’s Guide to Life); an online TV network creator (AfterBuzzTV.com, which gets almost 20 million weekly downloads all over the world); a producer (the forthcoming movie Adventures of Serial Buddies); and a philanthropist. We caught up with Menounos during a rare quiet moment for her to find out about her favorite interviewees and L.A. eats, plus how she gets red-carpet ready. —Jessica Radloff
Did you always see yourself hosting entertainment news?
It crossed my mind, as did morning shows and other hard-news programs. By my final years at Emerson [College, in Boston], I was actually planning on producing films full time, until [my business partner] told me I was crazy and I could do both.
Who are your favorite entertainers to interview?
I love Ted Danson, William Shatner, the cast of NCIS: Los Angeles and Sandra Bullock!
Who was your most anxiety-producing interview?
My first Johnny Depp interview was a tough one because I had a crush on him growing up. I confessed and giggled and scared him. He thought a machine gun went off in the room. It was just my laugh. Ever since, in every interview he asks me to laugh. He’s an incredibly sweet man.
What’s it like being in the action at awards shows?
It’s always exciting. The gowns, glamour and glitz [are] definitely fun, but the greatest impact still comes from the artists themselves. We’re saluting and coming face-to-face with those who are literally the world’s finest at their craft.
What advice do you wish you could have given yourself just starting out in the business?
I think I was always hard-working and humble thanks to how my parents raised me. However, knowing what I know now, I’d work even harder and be even more humble. The older I get, the more I realize what a privilege and blessing it is to work in this business.
Tell me about Adventures of Serial Buddies.
It’s the first serial-killer buddy comedy, and was a blast to make. I called in all my friends, which made it even more fun. A critic from AMC called it “Dexter meets Dumb and Dumber,” and we are excited for it to finally be released.
What is your favorite L.A. spot to see and be seen?
The Grove [where Extra tapes] is incredible, day and night. It’s the Mall of America meets Disneyland, yet has a charm and class all its own. I love going to The Fat Cow and La Piazza there.
Where do you like to eat?
The Great Greek in Sherman Oaks is so much fun and delicious. Also, a hidden gem for good Neapolitan Italian is Lido Pizza in Van Nuys.
Who styles your gorgeous hair?
Olivier Geymann at Serge Normant is [the man responsible] for cutting my hair!
Where do you go to primp before red-carpet events?
Dermalogica in Santa Monica is amazing. They have cheap facials and a great, relaxing atmosphere. Anastasia is a must…. She makes sure my crazy eyebrows are just right.
Anastasia Beverly Hills 438 N. Bedford Drive, Beverly Hills, 310.273.3155
Dermalogica 1022 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, 310.260.8682
The Fat Cow 189 The Grove Drive, L.A., 323.900.8080
The Great Greek 13362 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 818.905.5250
The Grove 189 The Grove Drive, L.A., 323.900.8080
La Piazza 189 The Grove Drive, L.A., 323.933.5050
Lido Pizza 15232 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys, 818.781.2551
Serge Normant at John Frieda Salon 8440 Melrose Place, L.A., 323.653.4040