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By Joe Beck - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mario Lopez's star shone brightly at the Apple Blossom Festival's Grand Feature Parade in Winchester on Saturday, but he confessed to feeling a little frazzled an hour before he was to begin greeting his adoring public as the parade's grand marshal.
"Pardon my appearance," he told a group of reporters assembled for a brief press conference. "I was working late last night. I got off at 10 and had to fly all night."
Lopez said he arrived in Winchester around 10 a.m. and would be headed back to Washington immediately after the parade for a flight to New York. Lopez's work schedule includes hosting EXTRA, a daily nationally syndicated entertainment news show, MTV's America's Best Dance Crew and a recently launched nationally syndicated radio show, "On with Mario Lopez." He is also planning a cable TV special program about his scheduled wedding to long time girlfriend Courtney Laine Mazza.
Lopez is far from complaining about his hectic schedule, especially when he considers the alternative in the unforgiving world of show business.
"Professionally and personally, I couldn't be happier," he said. "Things are going very well. I'm very busy, which is a good sign of work."
It's very unpredictable and everything's a temporary job, so it's either feast or famine. But at the moment, things are going well. We'll see."
Lopez said he is grateful for the opportunity to venture out into places like Winchester to cultivate his fan base. On the one hand, he described his appearance Saturday as an extension of his normal work.
"I think it's important to do events like this to meet people and show them you appreciate that they're out here to support you," Lopez said. "And hopefully, they'll watch your programs and listen to your radio show and when you start to make those connections at the grassroots level, the word will spread and hopefully they will be a loyal viewer and listener later on."
But Lopez also said he genuinely enjoyed traveling to Winchester and meeting "all the nice people" involved with coordinating his visit.
"I'm honored to be here," he said. "I'm very happy to be invited to be parade grand marshal. I like history a lot, and I love the history that's involved with the parade and the community. To see how people rally around and get behind it, it's great. And I'm just looking forward to the experience ahead."
Lopez saved his bluntest words in reply to a question about what advice he would give to any youthful fans interested in following him into show business.
"Don't do it," he said. "It's extremely tough, but if they must, make sure they do it for the right reasons, if they're passionate about it.
"If it's something they want to do because they just can't help themselves, try to study as much as you can about the craft, whether it's acting, and maximize all the opportunities you can within your own community before you do something silly and move to New York or L.A."
Lopez described his own beginnings in show business as something quite different from the advice he had just offered.
"I just fell into it," he said of his early days as an entertainer. "I wasn't a kid that wanted to get into it. I just fell into it, but once I did, I fell in love with it.
"I like people and like hosting, whether it's hosting national TV shows or radio shows or barbecues at my house. I like people, so it just worked out that way."