Thomasville’s Julie Moran true to her roots

Julie Moran poses at the 2009 American Music Awards. Columnist Loran Smith says the Thomasville native is as down-to-earth as anyone you'd care to meet. (The Associated Press photo)

Julie Moran poses at the 2009 American Music Awards. Columnist Loran Smith says the Thomasville native is as down-to-earth as anyone you'd care to meet. (The Associated Press photo)

Julie Moran, Thomasville native and Georgia graduate, lives in the Hollywood environment but has an unconventional approach to working in the television industry.

Last week was a homecoming for her, bringing about an emotional high that was stimulating. She was honored by the Henry Grady School of Journalism, which inducted her into the “Grady Fellowship” for post-graduate achievement. The trip back to Athens put her in touch with her many friends and that of her family whose roots are linked to the Classic City.

For seven years, Julie was the primary substitute anchor, weekend anchor and senior correspondent for the No. 1 magazine in syndication, “Entertainment Tonight.” She really didn’t fit the traditional mold. She interrupted her career to start a family. When Maiya and Makayla became kindergarten age, she began to return to work. She was never completely idle, and chooses projects which allows for time with the girls, including “The Insider’s List with Julie Moran,” which airs on the Fine Living Network. She has co-hosted the Miss America pageant and the pre-show at the Kodak Theatre for the AFI Life Achievement Awards, honoring Tom Hanks, Robert DeNiro and Meryl Streep, respectively. Who knows what assignment awaits this south Georgia beauty!

She has plenty of credits, including “NBA’s Inside Stuff.” She has appeared on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” the first woman to host the popular show, and teamed with Brent Musberger as sideline reporter for the network’s college football and basketball games.

Her husband Rob is an accomplished actor/producer with a number of credits including “Hall Pass,” “Dumb and Dumber,” and “There’s Something about Mary.” A native of Rhode Island, Rob fits in well with Julie’s friends in Thomasville. He could easily pass for a Southern gentleman. Sorta reminds you of Julie’s grandfather, Sterling DuPree, who was a coach and recruiter at Georgia.

If you visit the Morans in California, they find time to host their friends while they are working. Julie stays busy with her company, “Silver Fox Productions,” and Rob’s success as an actor/producer has brought him many credits and opportunities — but also a demanding schedule.

Over the weekend, there was a poignant scene with Julie and Beth and Greg Jordan of Atlanta. Their friendship came about when a tragic circumstance evolved into something remarkable. A sorority sister called Julie one day and told her about Beth, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and would be spending time in Los Angles for treatment. “Would you meet with them for coffee, and try to make them comfortable in a very depressing situation?”

Not only did Julie spend time with Beth and Greg, she gave them her house while they spent time in California for treatment.

“We have to be away, so you stay here,” Julie told the Jordans. A cheerleader at Georgia in the mid-’80s, Beth was all smiles when she and Julie embraced at a party at a friend’s house last weekend. There’s good news about Beth. Miraculously, she is cancer-free.

On several occasions while she was in Athens, Julie reminded everyone that she will always be a “Georgia girl.” Whenever I am in Southern California, I always try to visit with Julie and Rob and can remember having lunch with her one day at the Beverly Hilton. When she came across the room, you could see all heads turn in her direction. It was the same way when we had lunch one day at the beach at Santa Monica.

She is a pretty woman, but she is also real. Makes one proud that this talented television host and personality is a Georgia graduate.

Loran Smith is affiliated with the University of Georgia and can be reached via e-mail at loransmithathens@bellsouth.net.