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Maria Menounos
Menounos and producer Keven Undergaro in town to promote their movie, "In the Land of Merry Misfits." (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)

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Tagging along with Maria Menounos, from the Common to her old Medford haunts

Movie promotion can be monotonous: The star and a small circle of sycophants are set up for the day at a downtown hotel, usually someplace plush like the Four Seasons. The "talent" is styled - yes, even Mark Wahlberg does hair and makeup - and then seated in a wingback chair in a sterile conference room. Finally, reporters are paraded in one by one, grateful for their 15 minutes of face time. Sounds exhilarating, right? Maybe because she's been there and done that as a correspondent with "Access Hollywood," Maria Menounos tried something different this week while in town to hype "In the Land of Merry Misfits," an indie film she executive produced. The Emerson alum and Medford native hit a few old haunts and invited the Globe along.

8:30-10 a.m. Though she has the face of an angel and the hair of a Pantene spokesmodel, Menounos starts her day on the radio, doing both "Matty in the Morning" on Kiss-108 and "Lander in the Morning" on Mix 98.5. Traveling in a black Escalade, her entourage, such as it is, includes publicist Gary Mantoosh, and fellow "Misfits" producers Keven Undergaro, a Medford native, and Aaron Strongoni, a Bronx native visiting Boston for the first time.

10:30 a.m. The SUV pulls up to the curb at 120 Boylston St., and Menounos and Undergaro cross the street to do an interview on the Common with WFXT-TV's Gene Lavanchy. "He's famous, isn't he?" says passerby John Scatellaro, pointing to Lavanchy. Then, fixing his gaze on Menounos's knee-high leather boots - they're Chloe, of course - and sleeveless white, scoop-neck T-shirt, Scatellaro mumbles, "I don't know who she is, but she's beautiful."

10:45 a.m. Just as the interview is wrapping up, a flock of pigeons flies low overhead. Menounos, who has a long day of press still to do, immediately covers her coiffed tresses. When it happens again, she shrieks. "What, are we in a Hitchcock movie?" Her publicist, meanwhile, is wiping guano from his hair and off his pants. "I got hit," says Mantoosh. "I am so skeeved out." Menounos takes a Tide to Go stick from her purse. "It's supposed to be good luck, Gary," she says cheerfully. "Let's see if it is."

11:10 a.m. Menounos has an interview with WHDH-TV at the Dunkin' Donuts on the corner of Boylston and Tremont streets. She'd worked there while a student at Emerson, but the place is noticeably tidy today, and Dunkin' Donuts district manager Todd Brown is shooing a panhandler from in front of the store. "This is the greatest doughnut in the world," says Menounos, devouring a plain stick. "I went up a size in jeans every year I worked here." As a goof, Menounos steps behind the counter to ring up a customer. She also shares a little secret. "My mother told me to memorize where all the doughnuts were," she says, speaking in a thick Greek accent. " 'Maria, if you want to be Vanna White, you gotta know where the letters they are.' "

11:40 a.m. Stepping outside, Menounos nuzzles an enormous German shepherd belonging to Stefan Kutrubes, a construction manager who suddenly looks very happy he's brought his dog to work. Menounos talks about the five pups she's rescued from the pound - a white German shepherd, two bichons, a miniature poodle, and a standard poodle. "I know her from TV," says Kutrubes, holding the leash as Menounos walks away. "That was nice."

11:55 a.m. She has an hour before her next interview, so Menounos suggests a road trip to Bob's in Medford. "I'm a ginormous pig when I come home, and they have the best steak-and-cheese there," she says. Since her parents moved to Connecticut a few years ago, Menounos hasn't been back to Medford much. "I wanted to invite Mayor [Michael] McGlynn to the screening," she says, "but I was kind of embarrassed to invite him to our kooky little movie." As they drive past La Cascia's Bakery on Main Street, Undergaro suggests they get a slice of pizza for WBZ-TV's Joyce Kulhawik, who's interviewing Menounos at 1 p.m. They decide to buy Kulhawik a sub at Bob's instead.

12:20 p.m. Putting down her steak-and-cheese, which she ordered with "extra hots," Menounos asks the driver to swing by Tufts Park in Medford. She's involved in a Nike campaign to resurface old playing fields and is thinking of nominating this one. "It actually looks pretty good," she says. Undergaro disagrees. "Maria, those are softball fields. . . . Those are for old people."

12:40 p.m. Menounos acknowledges that she makes a lot of money and lives lavishly in LA, but insists her tastes haven't changed much since her Medford days. "You know where I eat every night? Chili's," she says, laughing. "I get the nachos or the guiltless grilled chicken sandwich. Literally, I eat there almost every night. They know me."

12:55 p.m. Idling in the Escalade outside WBZ-TV's offices on Soldiers Field Road, Undergaro mentions a gift Menounos recently gave him: the original blue suit worn by Jack Lord on "Hawaii Five-O" and a gold-plated pistol given to the actor by Elvis Presley in 1973. "[Keven's] a huge Jack Lord fan. I bought the gun at an auction," Menounos says. "But I didn't know that I had to have a gun license to pick it up. I took a 200-question test and passed." (She won't say what she paid, but Julien's Auctions, which conducted the sale, had estimated the pistol's value at $10,000 to $20,000.)

1:30 p.m. Climbing back into the car after her interview with Kulhawik, Menounos begins checking e-mail on her BlackBerry. She laughs at a friend who's written to say Menounos should have won "Best Cleavage" at the Emmy Awards. "What do you think?" says Menounos, showing a picture of herself from the red carpet. "I think Calvin [Klein] is going to be very happy about the dress."

1:45 p.m. As they pass the Esplanade, Menounos recalls skipping math class more than once to go rollerblading along the river. "But sometimes the wind was so strong I'd cry and want to call a cab," she says. Something about this story makes her nostalgic for a white 1982 Camaro she drove in college. "I want that car back," says Menounos. "I sold it in 1999 to pay for my [Miss Massachusetts] pageant dress. I will pimp that car in Hollywood over my Mercedes any day."

5 p.m.-6:30 p.m. When her last interview, with CN8's Sara Edwards, is over, Menounos stops briefly at a Boston Film Festival party at 33 Restaurant & Lounge. She and Undergaro pose for a few photos and then head to Pizzeria Regina at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. "We were trying to save room for fried dough and slush," Undergaro says afterward, "but we couldn't do it."

10:15 p.m. The screening of "In the Land of Merry Misfits" is filled with Menounos's Greek family and friends, most of whom show up at the after-party at Vlora, a Mediterranean-theme restaurant on Boylston Street. Her uncle Nikitas is particularly chatty, though not easy to understand because of his accent and the mouthful of spanakopita. "Maria has been my wife's favorite from the day she was born," says Nikitas, who lives in Arlington. "We never miss a night of 'Access Hollywood.' Maria's a good girl." Standing nearby, Menounos's parents, Costas and Stavroula, are smiling at the sight of their daughter, who seems to tower over everyone in her high-heeled boots. Told by someone that their daughter looks lovely tonight, Stavroula Menounos laughs. "Of course, she does," says mom. "That's Maria."

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