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New Years’ Eve exclusive: Maria Menounos talks FOX NYE with Steve Harvey, Gronk and more

One half of FOX's ace team to ring in the New Year: Maria Menounos. Pic credit: FOX
One half of FOX’s ace team to ring in the New Year: Maria Menounos. Pic credit: FOX

This coming New Year’s Eve on FOX rings in year three of the dynamic duo of Steve Harvey and Maria Menounos, the only NYE host who has ever wed on TV during the festivities going down in Times Square in New York City.

She and her husband Keven rang in 2018 in big style, and Steve Harvey officiated!

The next New Year’s Eve special in Times Square, hosted by Steve Harvey and co-hosted by Maria Menounos and NFL Ex-Patriot Rob Gronkowski is going to bring the house down, you don’t want to miss it.

This year is the third annual FOX New Year’s Eve With Steve Harvey: Live from Times Square special and will feature a performance by Village People as they attempt to set a world record for the largest YMCA dance.

Rapper LL Cool J and DJ Z-Trip will headline the performances, including the Chainsmokers, the Lumineers, Florida Georgia Line, Backstreet Boys, Tyga, and The Killers, with celeb pals like chef Gordon Ramsay, Will Arnett, and Jenna Dewan.

Fans of the WWE can enjoy a match with a wrestler we cover extensively, Roman Reigns.

The three-and-a-half-hour primetime celebration begins at 8 p.m. live from Manhattan, with a tape-delayed edition for the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

Menounos is a multi-hyphenate with drop-dead looks and a lucky star. The TV personality (Access Hollywood and Extra!) has diversified her vocational portfolio from on-camera beauty to the brains behind the content and programming.

On NBC, she completed her third year as a spokesperson for Purina’s #DogThanking initiative.

As an entertainment entrepreneur and CEO, her online podcast series network AfterBuzz TV, where niche TV is dissected and analyzed by devoted fans in fun after-show podcasts, is growing by leaps and bounds.

As we learned in our chat with Maria, her Los Angeles-based company is home to women and minorities, with over 70% of her 300+ hosts delivering programming weekly from five studios are taking center stage.

The lucky star part of her story involves a health scare in 2017 for a non-cancerous brain tumor diagnosis that, thankfully, she overcame.

We spoke to Maria ahead of the live event and got some insight as what is to come on FOX:

Monsters and Critics: Gronk will be your wing-man, I hear. Any other guests you would like to mention?

Maria Menounos: Yes! We have the Chainsmokers, Florida Georgia Line, Tyga, and The Lumineers, plus as you mentioned, we have Gronk, who I’m so giddy about … I pitched them so many ideas for us. I really hope that we get to do some mischievous fun stuff together…

We get married on the show, we do crazy things and every year I want to get crazier. We’ll see as it comes together in this next week what we’re going to officially go with.

M&C: Well, 2019 was an interesting year, to say the least. What are you looking forward to saying goodbye to, and what are you looking forward to saying hello to in 2020?

Maria Menounos: Well, I never thought about it like that. I guess, 2020 has a really cool ring to it, so I’m excited to actually remember what the date is because — 2018, is it 2019, I can’t — it’s hard sometimes, but 20 you’re not going to forget.

I can’t think of anything else, to be honest. I haven’t thought about it like that. I’m just excited for 2020 in general,

M&C: You’re not just a TV personality. You’re a producer, and you’re an entrepreneur, and your AfterBuzz TV is really taking off. Is there anything you can talk about in regards to that? Do you think you might grow it into an actual network?

Maria Menounos: Yeah, We are a digital broadcast network. We have over 350 hosts at this point. We’ve produced 150 hours of after-show content, but we’ve also just become, in this last few months, Google news accredited.

So we break our own news and our news division, we created a bunch of different niche news shows around some of our favorite brands, like 90 Day Fiance. And those are killing it.

And so we’re really seeing the switch-over because with entertainment news it’s really hard to be able to capture everyone’s interest in one show.

And so what’s great is we’re really attacking the niches, and they’re doing really well for us. So that’s been really cool.

We have a 50/50 mission to create the content, and the other 50% is to help nurture and grow and support the careers of the talent there. And so what we’ve been really working hard on in these last nine years, along with creating the content, is building a new Hollywood model that supports talent.

I’m really proud of that. And our company is the most diverse company you’ll ever see. We have every race, religion, age, sex, size, gender, everything. We are the most diverse, and we really love helping people, and we get to do that there.

M&C: That’s really exciting. I love that the traditional gatekeepers in the entertainment world are stripped away, offering new opportunities for women too.

Maria Menounos: Yes. Well, and our company ironically is 70% female and minority. So we’ve really enjoyed helping those individuals, especially. And we’ve launched an international division, so we’re doing the first Spanish-speaking after shows, and German.

So, we’re expanding, and in 2020 we have really big plans we’re going out for investors, and we’re really going to try to build this new space out.

M&C: What, when you do a show like the New Year’s Eve special, are there unforeseen moments, spontaneous things that just occur, or is everything pretty close to the script or no surprises?

Maria Menounos: This is what I love about New Year’s Eve, and working with this team is they are willing to have spontaneous moments. And that’s what makes it fun.

So last minute I could say, “Guys, oh my gosh, no, no, you’ve got to come to me over here, I just found someone that has the largest diaper.” I don’t know; whatever it is, they’ll go with it.

They’ll throw things away and just, and run with the fun and in the moment. That’s what I love, and I love live for that reason. It’s kind of just whatever you want, kind of goes. They’ve always just let me be me and do my thing. So it’s a lot of fun like that!

FOX’S New Year’s Eve With Steve Harvey: Live From Times Square is a star-studded three-and-a-half-hour primetime celebration.

Co-hosted by Maria Menounos, part one airs Tuesday, Dec. 31 (8:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. ET live CT/MT/PT tape-delayed), and part two airs Tuesday, Dec. 31 (11:00 p.m.-12:30 a.m. ET live CT/MT/PT tape-delayed) on FOX.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
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