UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif.-Talk TV hostess Christina Ferrare claims it takes no talent to host a talk show. What it does take, she says, is the ability to listen.

Ferrare has been listening most of her life - first to the people who put her on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine when she was 18, then to the producers of a variety of chat-shows over a span of years. But mostly she listens to her tight-knit family, she says.

As hostess of the Hallmark Channel's daytime "Home & Family," with co-host Mark Steines, Ferrare can indulge her passion for homemaking, star-gazing and family values.

But it hasn't always been a cakewalk.

She was just 14 when a family friend suggested Christina try modeling and arranged an introduction to the West Coast's top modeling agent, Nina Blanchard. "She signed me on the spot but she said I needed to lose 10 pounds," says Ferrare.

When she was 16, Max Factor signed her to a 10-year contract, an unprecedented deal at the time. "The money was ridiculous," she laughs. "When I was 18 I went to New York to meet (modeling agent) Eileen Ford. I met (photographer) Francesco Scavullo. He asked me to do an eight-page layout for Vogue."

When that edition of Vogue was published, she also graced the cover of Cosmopolitan. "Everything changed from that month on," she recalls.

But the detonation didn't faze her, she says. "I used to go by the magazine stand and see my picture there, and it wasn't like, 'Oh my God.' I think it was because I was so grounded as a child. Everything revolved around my family. I didn't care about anything other than my family. My mother, father, sister, brother - our family dinners on Sundays. I never colored outside the lines.

"I never did the drug thing even though it was all around me at the time, Gia and Studio 54. That never interested me. I wanted to have friends over and cook pasta. I'm still like that."

She later met automotive innovator John DeLorean, whom she married when she was 23. But when DeLorean's company fell on hard times, he was accused by the FBI of drug trafficking in an effort to save it.

"The news came to me during dinner one night somebody from the Los Angeles Times saying, 'We want to get your reaction to your husband's arrest for cocaine.' I said, 'Excuse me?' I handed the phone to my friend because I didn't know what he was saying. Then we lived three years of hell," she shakes her head.

"The rug was literally pulled right out from under me. I had two small children, my husband of 11 years whom I loved and adored, with the possibility of facing life in prison forever. All of our money confiscated by the U.S. government. They froze our bank accounts, and I had no way to feed my children. I was living in New York, all my endorsements, everything that I'd worked for over the last 20 years was wiped out overnight."

She and the children moved into her parents' three-bedroom home during the ordeal. DeLorean eventually was acquitted, but the marriage didn't survive.

Ferrare remarried and has been wed for almost 30 years to television executive Tony Thomopoulos.

If her upbeat personality permeates the "Home & Family" set and show, it's not an accident. "This is happiest time of my life," she beams. "My children are all grown. I have beautiful grandkids. My husband and I have rediscovered each other. We have a nice life and I love getting up in the morning and coming here. We're not a perfect family but we have God in our life, and that's what really helped us through the bad stuff that happens to all of us."

Distributed by MCT Information Services