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Mario Lopez is in, Mark McGrath is out from 'Extra'

Mario Lopez is in, Mark McGrath is out from 'Extra'

offBeat with PHILIP POTEMPA

He's everywhere

Mario Lopez has been named the new host of the long-running daily syndicated entertainment magazine program "Extra."

It was announced Monday by Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president, Telepictures Productions, and "Extra" Senior Executive Producer Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey.

Lopez, 34, who has served as a cohost of the hit show's weekend edition as well as a correspondent for the daily program since joining "Extra"in January 2007, will take over the anchor chair on Sept. 15 as the show begins its 15th season.

Also, longtime "Extra" cohost Dayna Devon will transition into a special correspondent role for the program, focusing on major celebrity interviews and celebrity lifestyle reporting. She also will serve as backup host for Lopez.

According to the press announcement, Devon's current on-air partner, cohost Mark McGrath, will leave the show at his request to refocus on his musical career. While at "Extra," McGrath, 40, continued touring and recording with his multiplatinum-selling band Sugar Ray. The band is recording a new album, which will be documented comprehensively by "Extra" with exclusive behind-the-scenes reports in the coming months. The album will be released in early 2009 by Pulse Recording, and distributed by Fontana/Universal.

McGrath's group Sugar Ray just performed in the region earlier this month as the headline entertainment at Festival of the Lakes in Hammond.

Distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, "Extra" airs in more than 95 percent of the country with the stations of the NBC Local Media Division including Chicago's NBC 5 WMAQ-TV.

The show is renewed for syndication through the 2011-12 season, which will mark its 18th year on the air, making it the second-longest-running entertainment magazine on television, behind only "Entertainment Tonight."

"We are excited to name Mario Lopez as the new host of 'Extra's' weekday show," said Estey McLoughlin.

"Mario has done a great job as the host of our weekend show and has established himself as a highly engaging, likeable and sought-after host and personality. He will be a fresh and dynamic presence for the show, and we can't wait for him to assume his new role and get to work with Senior Executive Producer Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey, who has made 'Extra' one of the most highly regarded programs of its kind on television. I also want to thank Mark and Dayna for their tremendous contributions to our enduring success, and we look forward to Dayna's continued involvement in the show."

McGrath joined "Extra" in 2004.

"As I said when Mario joined us last year, I think he is a rising star with a winning personality both on- and off-camera," Gregorisch-Dempsey said.

"We couldn't be more thrilled to have him as our new host, which will allow Dayna to return to her roots as a correspondent. She joined the show as weekend cohost but really made a name for herself with her interviews and reporting as a correspondent for the daily program before she became host, and we look forward to her renewed contributions in this area. When Mark came to us and asked to be let out of his contract in order to return to his first love of making music, we were, of course, thrilled for him, but sad not to be working with him on a daily basis in the future. Mark will always be a part of the 'Extra' family."

Recently named "Hottest Bachelor of 2008" by People magazine, Lopez earned added fame on the hit ABC program "Dancing with the Stars."

He also serves as the host of Warner Horizon Television's reality-competition series "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew," now in its second season on MTV, and he is also currently starring on Broadway in the part of musical theater director Zach in the revival of "A Chorus Line," which will close its New York run Aug. 17.

Born in San Diego, Lopez became well known to television audiences through his roles on "Saved by the Bell" and as one of the hosts on Dick Clark's daytime talk show "The Other Half." He portrayed Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis in the television film "Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story."

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at ppotempa@nwitimes.com or 219.852.4327.

celebBirthdays

Singer Christine McGuire of The McGuire Sisters is 82. Actor Richard Johnson is 81. Puppeteer-turned-producer Sid Krofft ("H.R. Pufnstuf") is 79. Actor Edd "Kookie" Byrnes is 75. Blues guitarist Buddy Guy is 72. Movie director Peter Bogdanovich is 69. Singer Paul Anka is 67. Jazz saxophonist David Sanborn is 63. Actor -turned Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is 61. Actor Jean Reno ("The Da Vinci Code," "Godzilla") and blues singer Otis Taylor are 60. Actor Ken Olin is 54. Actress Delta Burke and law professor Anita Hill are 52. Singer-songwriter Kate Bush and country singer Neal McCoy are 50. Actor Laurence Fishburne is 47. Actress Lisa Kudrow ("Friends") is 45. Country guitarist Dwayne O'Brien of Little Texas and actress Vivica A. Fox are 44. Actor Terry Crews ("Everybody Hates Chris") is 40. Director Christopher Nolan ("Memento," "The

Dark Knight") is 38. Actor Tom Green and drummer Brad Hargreaves of Third Eye Blind and actress Christine Taylor ("The Brady Bunch Movie") are 37. Comedian Dean Edwards ("Saturday Night Live") is 35. Actress Hilary Swank is 34. Actress Jaime Pressly ("My Name Is Earl," "Not Another Teen Movie") is 31. Actress Yvonne Strahovski ("Chuck") is 26.

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