Mark Steines seems to be adapting quickly to his new role as co-host of the Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family" lifestyle show debuting this week. Says the Emmy-winning personality who was a mainstay of "Entertainment Tonight" for 17 years, "'ET' gifted me with all my suits from the show, but if I'm lucky, I'll never have to wear one of them again. I'm much happier in my jeans. Some days I may not even shave."
Steines, along with Paige Davis, is presiding over the series that combines the building of a 2,446-square-foot New England Colonial-style house — on the backlot of Universal Studios in California — with talk segments about all things domestic, from parenting to kitchen cabinetry. It's a big change for Steines after the red carpet/celebrity whirl, and that's perfect, he says, because "part of what the show is about is how to embrace change."
He's getting to know his sassy cohost. "I've realized I have to be careful about what I reveal about myself, because with Paige, you never know what will happen." Viewers can expect to see Davis' husband, Broadway performer Patrick Page, and Steines' wife, Miss America 1993 Leanza Cornett, turn up to sing with their mates. Steines hasn't forsaken the celebrity beat completely — he says he relishes the idea of doing some longer-form interviews.
"One of my last assignments with 'ET' was covering "Les Mis", and I sat with Hugh Jackman for 20-25 minutes and aired maybe a minute of it. Here, we'll have the chance to do maybe six, seven-minute pieces with guests."
Steines relates to the family topics that will be covered on "Home & Family." He and his wife have two young sons, and among his current concerns is whether or not to let his 10-year-old have the air rifle he wants. "The harder I push, the harder he'll push." The host, who has been among People Magazine's Sexiest Men, admits he's also into such subjects as whether one is better off weighing oneself every day. He admits, "I weigh myself every day — sometimes two times a day. I don't want to let any weight gain get out of control. I know women deal with that a lot" — and "Home & Family's" audience will be primarily women.
FAREWELL: The passing of Andy Williams last week marked the end of an era and brought back myriad memories for those of us who wrote about him and interviewed him and admired his clear, soaring voice. He was a gentleman whose personal style was widely copied — behaviorally and sartorially — in his 1960's heyday and later years, too. He once gave all the members of his "Andy Williams Show" crew (including Stacy's father) custom-fitted Andy Williams-style sweaters for Christmas. They could have been the envy of any natty dresser on "Mad Men."
Outside of his voice, the most unforgettable thing about Andy has to have been his devotion to former wife Claudine Longet. In the happier years of their marriage, he brought her a rose every day. Later, when she was on trial for shooting her lover, skier Spider Sabich, Andy stayed loyally by her side to show support. His fame spanned through the Kennedy Camelot years, the golden era of network variety shows, through the establishment of Branson, Mo. as an entertainment destination and beyond. Few could match his longevity — or class. RIP, Andy.
SPREADING HER WINGS: "Clearly, there's a theme going on in my life," says Roma Downey, who of course rose to fame as angel Monica on "Touched by an Angel." Not only does she have a Bible miniseries on its way to the History Channel next year — she co-produced with husband Mark Burnett and plays Mary at the crucifixion — but also she recently came out with a storybook Bible. It's part of her Little Angels kids' series of DVDs and books. She reports that they're "doing great — the Little Angels brand continues to expand."
With her own career success in addition to her husband's, "I don't have to work. I'm very blessed, very fortunate. So my passion, my purpose is to be involved with things that uplift and open people's hearts and raise their consciousness," she says. "And the message, ultimately, of the Bible, the message of Jesus, is, 'Can't we all see that spark of light in each other, which is God — respect each other and love each other and get along together?'"
To find out more about Stacy Jenel Smith and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.