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Former hosts and correspondents of Extra reunited in front of the Universal Studios globe Monday morning to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the television series and jumpstart the new season. The entertainment news show has seen the likes of Samantha Harris and Mario Lopez talk the latest in the world of Hollywood for more than 7,000 episodes.
Attendees for the celebrations included former hosts: Jon Kelley, David Rose, Lauren Sanchez and Mark McGrath. Upon returning to the series’ set, McGrath — who hosted the series from 2004 to 2008 — raised his hands in the air while yelling, “It’s good to be back!”
Lopez — who currently co-hosts the series along with Tanika Ray and Renee Bargh — was also in attendance for the celebration, telling The Hollywood Reporter that it’s an “honor” to be involved with the long-running series.
“It’s special when you get to 25 years of a show. It makes it an honor to be a part of something that’s been so special for so long. To be able to do it for 10 years is truly an honor,” Lopez tells The Hollywood Reporter.
The two-time Daytime Emmy award-winning program began in 1994 with hosts Arthel Neville and Dave Nemeth. Nemeth also joined in on the reunion, anticipating his reunion with Neville.
“I got every piece of love I ever hoped for back,” Nemeth says of his first sight of Neville in years. “All I wanted her to know was how much I loved her and cherished the time that we had.”
Though successful, Nevill and Nemeth admit the show struggled to find its identity during its first few years on-air. Quickly, however, they were able to connect with many of the biggest stars in the business.
When reflecting on series guest stars, Neville recalled Gladys Knight as being one of the series’ first guests. Neville, who became the first African-American woman to host a nationally syndicated entertainment news magazine program, recalled getting caught off guard by the soul singer’s visit.
“They snuck her in the studio and I had no idea,” Neville says of Knight’s surprise entrance, which happened to be when the host was singing “Midnight Train to Georgia.” “She was a great sport. She started laughing with me. She said, ‘Oh no, keep going keep going.'”
Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey, the senior executive producer of Extra, joined the team in 2000. Since the show’s early years, she says, Extra — or as she calls “her baby” — has been able to stay relevant by delivering celebrity news the way audiences want it.
“We reinvent the show every year,” Gregorisch-Dempsey tells THR. “Now you get your Insta story on Instagram and we will shoot with a celebrity on our iPhones.” Gregorisch-Dempsey estimates that Extra shoots a third or half of the show on an iPhone to have it sent to the world via social media.
Throughout the years, guests have included varied stars such as Beyonce and former presidents. Entertainment Tonight‘s Leeza Gibbons — who was an Extra host from 2001 to 2003 — interviewed Beyonce at the tail end of her run with Destiny’s Child. In an attempt to have fun with the singer, Gibbons put on extensions and added color to her hair for the interview.
While she now considers her look “ridiculous,” she says Beyonce’s reaction made the interview one of her favorite moments with Extra. “Beyonce said, ‘Leeza, girl, your hair looks fierce.’ So now you can say what you want but Beyonce liked it.”
In a huddle during one of the breaks, former co-host and now Seattle resident Brad Goode showed McGrath, Rose and current correspondent Mark Wright a text he just go on his phone.
“They want to know: Who has more hair gel on, me or Mark McGrath?” Goode says. As if no time had past since they last saw each other, they all erupted in laughter.
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