After being AWOL from the TV scene for a short while, Nancy O'Dell is back — and she is coming at us from all forms of media. On TV and the Web, and at your local bookstore, Nancy is ready to reclaim her Media Queen crown. When we caught up recently, she filled me in on everything she's been up to lately. And I have to say, now I know why this beautiful woman talks so fast: She has quite a lot to do in a short amount of time!
Celebrity Extra: First and foremost, I must congratulate you on being named Mary Hart’s successor on “Entertainment Tonight.” You must be so excited!
Nancy O’Dell: Oh, I am! I am so ecstatic, because it’s such an honor. She’s such a TV icon. I remember watching it when it first debuted thinking, “That would be such a cool show to work for.” And here I am working for it! And I’m so excited because this is her year and this is her final season. So when I go to work in January, I’ll be there with her for a good portion of that final season. And I’ll be able to celebrate her 30 years and be a part of that. I think it’s gonna be so much fun.
CE: As soon as I heard Mary was retiring, I thought, “Nancy O’Dell has to replace her.”
NO: Oh really? Sometimes I think timing works out for a reason, because I left “Access Hollywood” almost a year ago even though I had two years left on my contract. I just didn’t feel like it was the right fit anymore, because obviously the show was reporting things in a different way and it just didn’t feel like the right fit. So I left the show, and a few months later they announced Mary was retiring. It just feels like timing happens for a reason.
CE: I know everything is in the early stages, but do you know if they’ll keep the same format when you come aboard?
NO: I think that they’ll probably keep the same format. That show has been so successful. It’s constantly in the top seven syndicated shows. It’s consistently one of the top ones all the time. So, I bet they won’t change it. I would love to say that I’m similar to Mary, because I think that’s a compliment, because she’s classy. And she seems like such a nice lady, so if people said we would be similar because of that, then I would consider that such a compliment. That would make me feel good.
CE: How has the industry responded to the news of your heading to “ET”?
NO: All the celebrities and publicists I’ve gotten a response from have been so positive; it’s been amazing. They really do hold "ET" in high regard. It made me feel good about making the decision and going there. I think it’s going to be great. It feels good when you watch the show, you get a lot of good information, and you feel good about it afterward.
CE: Like most of America, I’m a huge fan of "Dancing with the Stars." I was so sad for you when you got injured and could no longer compete. Any chance you’ll get the chance to try again?
NO: With all of my new jobs, I don’t know where I’d find time. There’s a part of me that’s a little scared about getting hurt again, and it would be really embarrassing to have to pull out a second time. And because I had surgery and the meniscus that I had shredded with the dancing injury and they did the surgery to fix that. They shaved a piece of my meniscus, which is the padding in your knee so it won’t catch and your knee won’t lock up. So I think that would be my biggest fear: What if I damaged it again? I’ve already lost a little bit of that padding in my knee, what if I lose more? I’ve thought about going back, but I guess I’m a little bit chicken about another injury right now.
CE: Now you are teaming up with Florida Orange Juice for a contest and family-time campaign. Tell me about that.
NO: It’s the Morning Squeeze contest, and we’re talking about the fact that it’s so difficult for people in the mornings to make their mornings meaningful. Everybody’s pulled in so many different directions, but they don’t realize that it doesn’t have to take an hour and a half to sit down to make your mornings meaningful. You can take 15 minutes —whether it’s over a glass of orange juice or whether it’s over breakfast — just take those fifteen minutes and really concentrate on your family and sit down and talk about the day before or talk about the day ahead. That’s really all you need.
You can go to the Florida Orange Juice Facebook page where you can catch a glimpse into my mornings here at my house. There are a couple videos up there, and we’re asking everybody to submit videos of their own crazy mornings to show us their morning squeeze. They can do that by going to the Florida Orange Juice Facebook Page or the Florida Orange Juice website. Just do a 60- to 90-second video and we’ll announce the top 10 finalists. The winner is going to get an all-expense-paid trip to Florida for five days, four nights with the whole family, and they’ll get to go see a Florida attraction. And they’ll get a tour of an orange grove and it will be a lot of fun.
CE: You are also an accomplished scrapbooker. What can you tell me about your new book about that hobby, “Full of Love”?
NO: There are two things I am involved with that go hand in hand: One is the book “Full of Love,” and I also have a line of products that is called “The Hummingbird Collection.” And it’s all done through creativememories.com, which is just a huge, wonderful scrapbooking company. The forward of “Full of Love” is written by my good friend Garth Brooks, and a lot of celebrities contributed and helped us out with a lot of pictures and stuff.
I am a fourth generation scrapbooker, and I’ve got about a hundred at the house. And the biggest thing that is that there is a misconception with scrapbooking is that it’s all complicated with glue and glitter and all these little things, and I explain that it doesn’t have to be. And it’s so important for your family to do it to make those moments meaningful. My mom did about 50 scrapbooks, and after she passed away my dad sent them all to me. I was able to relive all those great moments for her, and it helped me cope with her passing. I was so close with my Mom. Instead of thinking of all the times I’m not going to have with her and not moving forward, I was able to appreciate all those times that I did have with her.
CE: What else your fans look forward to seeing from you?
NO: I’m hosting Fox’s “New Year’s Eve Festival,” so make sure you watch it. It’ll be fun for me because for the past 10 years, I’ve never even seen the new year come in! I’ve always hosted the parade the next morning, which I’d have to get up at three or four in the morning for. So this will be the first New Year’s Eve that I’ll have seen come in for years. I might be a little über-excited as a host.