Antonio Sabàto, Jr. tells us he knew it’d be hard finding love on television with his VH1 reality show “My Antonio” — but he never expected his ex-wife to be in the running.
“I was shocked because I didn’t know she was going to be a part of the show,” says Sabàto of Alicia Tully Jensen, whom he divorced in 1993. “I hadn’t seen this person in a very long time. I’m a whole different person since we were together. It put me on the edge for a little bit because I wasn’t ready to see this person,” he tells us. “I was very much in love with this girl for a long time. She was the only person I was married to. I was speechless. All the girls were blown away too. I think the viewers are going to be just as shocked.”
The hunky actor of “General Hospital,” “Melrose Place” and Calvin Klein underwear ad fame asked for it, though! “I told them they could bring surprises – that I’d be ready for anything so every show there’s something different.” Even his mother Yvonne is in on the action. “She’s not the usual Italian mom that’s in the kitchen all the time. She’s a very sophisticated, smart woman that I’m close to. It’s interesting to see people in the show have conversations with her to see if they can keep up.” In fact, she ends up stealing a few scenes or two. “I think my mom could definitely have a turning point in her life from a mother to an entertainer. We have stuff in the works that could possibly involve things coming her way.”
“My Antonio” premieres Aug. 16 and Sabàto says he just hopes people enjoy his journey of finding love. “This is going to be a very fun show to watch – very compelling. It’s a lot different from any other reality TV. I hope I can be a role model for other people who want to have relationships, especially at 37 years old.”
LOVE BITES: Disney Channel hottie David Henrie is taking his current “Wizards of Waverly Place” romance in stride – although the series girlfriend that’s been bestowed upon him happens to be a vampire. “Justin’s had some pretty crazy girlfriends in the past,” notes the affable 20-year-old, speaking of his character. “This is actually more of a normal storyline. It’s a fun arc that goes on for awhile. It shows a different side of my character, Justin, and how he handles love. He’s growing up. I’m playing him more mature than in the first season.”
And while he wasn’t in on the selection of his young leading lady, he’s happy with Bridgit Mendler. “She’s a great actress and we have good chemistry,” he notes.
MEANWHILE: The wizards vs. vampires storyline will climax Aug. 14 with a zombie prom that sounds a lot like it was inspired by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” But “Wizards of Waverly Place” Executive Producer Peter Murrieta lets us know there wasn’t – couldn’t have been – any intention of capitalizing on the surge of interest in all things King of Pop. “We shot that in January or February. It was definitely inspired by the same things that inspired ‘Thriller’ – the great old Universal zombie horror movies,” he says. “It was definitely fun. We had the choreographer working with [the cast] for two weeks prior to the shoot.”
Murrieta also notes, “I think that there’s no secret that vampires are front and center in the pop culture right now – with ‘True Blood,’ ‘Twilight,’ ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ We’re a comedy, so we look for our comedic take. What’s the most interesting thing? A boy-girl vampire relationship. A cool girl who has all these powers. It’s a little bit ‘West Side Story,’ ‘Romeo & Juliet.’
Of course, the dangerous parts of vampires could be a tad too chilling for the Disney Channel audience. “There are parts of the lore we have to deal with in a very gentle way,” Murrieta allows. “Some we can go straight ahead with: They’re able to stay up all night. They can only go out in the world if it’s overcast. But we would never, on the Disney Channel, have someone bitten and drained of their life.”
REJUVENATION STATION: Move over “Dr. 90210″! There’s a new plastic surgery show in town and the show’s star Dianne York-Goldman, who combined her spa with a plastic surgery practice, tells us people are going to see what it’s really like to be in the business of beauty.
“People will definitely learn something on each episode about plastic surgery and cosmetic fillers. They will see how it changes people’s lives,” says York-Goldman of the upcoming Oxygen series “Addicted to Beauty,” premiering Aug. 4. “They will witness patients before and after, and then they will see behind the scenes of what it really takes to run a medical spa. It’s not as tranquil as it appears on the outside. There’s a lot of chaos.”
It certainly doesn’t make it any easier when you’re combining two different businesses into one. “It was definitely very challenging because we’re all set in our own ways and think we’re all right. In the end, though, they all have a common goal to make the client look and feel better about themselves,” she says – and that means both inside and out.
With reports by Emilly-Fortune Feimster