Nancy O’Dell is just two months into the job, but she feels as if “Entertainment Tonight” has been her television home forever.
The weekday co-anchor of the syndicated entertainment-news program has succeeded long-running predecessor Mary Hart in that role, and after a decade on the rival “Access Hollywood,” she says she’s been having a “phenomenal” time alongside fellow “ET” anchor Mark Steines in presenting the given day’s showbiz stories.
“I feel like I’ve got the heaven of a job,” O’Dell tells Zap2it. “The majority of the producers have been there ever since the beginning of the show [in 1981], so the professionalism level is crazy. And they’re just good people. It’s very cool to work there. It was the first show of its kind, and they’ve maintained the way they report entertainment news.”
Not surprisingly, O’Dell has been able to utilize much of her “Access Hollywood” experience at “Entertainment Tonight.” She cites “the relationships that I’ve forged with celebrities. Those have carried on, because I’m still contacting them about doing interviews.”
So are many other entertainment reporters, O’Dell realizes, especially with the advent and immediacy of social media. “There’s a sense of urgency that we all have now. One great thing I love about ‘Entertainment Tonight’ is that everyone is going to check their facts before putting anything on the air. A lot of the audience still isn’t on Facebook or Twitter, but it does give you a feeling of, ‘OK, let’s advance the story.'”
As an example, O’Dell points to the death of singer Amy Winehouse last weekend: “Come Monday, the story was not, ‘Amy Winehouse died.’ At that point, it was, ‘What was the cause of her death?’ People had already gotten the news of her death, so it’s about telling the next piece of information.”
Though she and “ET” will be hugely occupied with the start of the new television season then, O’Dell has additional plans for September. As the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s ambassador for the fight against ALS — which her late mother had — she’ll co-host the annual Labor Day MDA Telethon on 150 stations nationwide Sunday, Sept. 4. A six-hour primetime telecast this year, it will mark longtime host Jerry Lewis’ retirement from the event.
O’Dell also is set to work the red carpet again for the Emmy Awards pre-show special Sunday, Sept. 18, on FOX. “I study ahead of time and look at what people are going to be doing next,” she confirms. “People always want to know what they have coming up, so I try to be respectful of that. And I want to know, too. That’s always a fun night.”