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Nancy O'Dell's Very Un-Hollywood Holiday

Nancy O'Dell, co-host of Entertainment Tonight, might spend most days talking to A-list celebs like Tom Hanks and Jennifer Lawrence, but when it comes to her family, they're the ones who really get the spotlight.

Take her daughter, Ashby, for starters. Her 6-year-old, with husband Keith Zubulevich, is the namesake for O'Dell's app, Little Ashby: Star Reporter. And now Ashby's name appears in O'Dell's new holiday book, Little Ashby: Star Reporter, Santa's Big Premiere, in which Ashby and her news team head to the North Pole to learn about St. Nick and a few other things along the way.

O'Dell, who also has her own line of scrapbooks, talked to mom.me about girl power, Madonna (yes, that Madonna) and what she and her family do for Christmas. (Hint: It has nothing to do with celebrities.)

On little girls taking the reins...

"I wanted the lead character (in the book) to show girl power. Of course, I wanted a little boy, too, because the story is certainly worth little boys learning from it—learning about morals and compassion. That’s a big part of the story—learning compassion for others who are different. We wanted boys to go over to that, too, [but Ashby] is the one who leads them and rallies them."

Her biggest "get" as an entertainment reporter...

"The first time I interviewed Madonna. That was a big one, and it was an exclusive one. And I remember just going into it, thinking, 'I don’t know if I’m going to like her.' It was right after she adopted (son) David (in 2006), and I was 8 weeks pregnant with Ashby, and I told her because I wanted to get a picture for my pregnancy scrapbook. And it was like the interview turned into something completely different. She became this person opposite of what I thought she was going to be. (Madonna) was just so warm and sweet, which I’ve learned since then, she is."

MORE: Printable Holiday Place Mats

How O'Dell does it all...

"It’s hard. I’ve gotten to the point now, when I get home, I kind of shut everything down. I make a conscious effort [to shut things down], because you could be sitting there answering emails forever."

Her holiday tradition...

We do a potluck, which is kinda fun. One thing that I say makes such a great Christmas gift, which is kind of like a scrapbook, is that we have everybody prepare their meal and bring the recipe, and then write it down in their handwriting, and then I make everybody a book of all the family recipes from that holiday meal. So then you have the family’s own recipes passed down from generation to generation."

What's on Ashby's Christmas list...

"I was laughing because I was sitting in the morning assembly at her school with her, and she leaned over and said, 'I want a 5S.' And I said, 'You want a what?' 'I want a 5S.' She's 6 years old. And I was like, 'What is that, like a robot or something?' And she’s like, 'No, mommy, duh. The iPhone.'”

What's on her own Christmas list...

I’ll take anything sentimental and gushy.

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