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It's prime time for Telemundo star

Maria Celeste Arraras, the host of a popular news and entertainment show on Telemundo, has a new book out. Maria Celeste Arraras, the host of a popular news and entertainment show on Telemundo, has a new book out. (Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)
By Laura Wides-Munoz
Associated Press / May 25, 2009
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MIAMI - Telemundo host Maria Celeste Arraras sinks into a red armchair, sleek in her black wrap dress and black leather sandals with four-inch heels.

"I'm going to do something terrible, but these things are killing me," she says conspiratorially before unbuckling the shoes, massaging her toes, and tucking her feet into the seat.

There is something refreshingly unguarded about Arraras, 48, whose jam-packed gossip, news, and entertainment show: "Al Rojo Vivo Con Maria Celeste" - loosely translated to "Red Hot Live With Maria Celeste" - is among the most popular on Spanish-language television.

The same can be said of the Puerto Rican native's new book, "Make Your Life Prime Time: How to Have It All Without Losing Your Soul," released by Atria Books in Spanish and English late last month.

Given her high-profile and often salacious interviews, the memoir could have been an exercise in celebrity name-dropping.

Instead, Arraras writes openly about her two failed marriages, the assistant who stole her identity, adopting a son from Russia, and the boss who tried to thwart her. Along the way she offers a backstage view of the television industry and some snappy, if cliche, life lessons.

Arraras said she didn't hesitate to write a personal story.

"The people, they know you, and they follow your life as if it were a soap opera, chapter by chapter," she explains.

She tried to use the personal to provide teaching moments she hopes will one day help her children and the public at large.

"And if you're not into self-help, at least it's going to be entertaining," she adds.

Arraras is the rare Spanish-language television star who has crossed the English-speaking divide, most notably as a guest host for segments of "The Today Show," on Telemundo's sister network, NBC.

And she doesn't hesitate to offer some advice for the English-language news business, especially in this economic downturn: Do more with less.

"When I work at NBC, what happens is I feel like a queen. I have so many people available to help," she explains. "It's almost a vacation because I'm used to the Hispanic market where we have fewer resources, and we have to do everything."

This is Arraras's third book. She has written a best-selling children's book and the story behind the death of Tex-Mex singer Selena.

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