Tag Archives: Joe Mantegna

Joe Mantegna Talks Memorial Day Concert, ‘The Fallen’ Follow-UP

hosts-vert01 (2)Don’t be surprised if there’s a follow-up to Joe Mantegna’s acclaimed “The Fallen” episode of “Criminal Minds” when the show returns this fall.

The November, 2012 segment that got into his character, David Rossi’s, background as a Vietnam vet also shined a spotlight on the problems of homeless veterans — with Meshach Taylor guest starring as Rossi’s former Marine officer whom he finds living on the streets.  Mantegna, who suggested the original, envisions a follow-up “that kind of shows what happened and how he has thrived, how he recovered from that situation, which will give hope to those in similar situations.”

He notes that Taylor “has been my dear friend for over 40 years.  He’s the godfather of my daughter, I’m the godfather of his son.  Our relationship in the episode mirrors the relationship we have in life.”

The episode also showcased the work of veterans’ organization New Directions in Los Angeles, which Mantegna was delighted to be able to do.

Right now, the brilliant and beloved actor is in Washington, D.C., getting ready for The National Memorial Day Concert, which he is cohosting with Gary Sinise for the 9th time.  In fact, Mantegna has been a part of the annual event honoring the military’s fallen since 2002.

“I had absolutely no idea it would become such a part of my life,” he tells us.  “It started when Charles Durning, a dear friend, asked me if I’d come in and read a segment for the concert.  Just the experience of doing it changed my life.  It had such an impact on me I said, ‘Look, I’d be glad to participate as long as you’d like me to.”  His third year, after former host  Ossie David passed away, he was asked to continue on as host.  “On the fourth year I decided I’d like to bring someone in on this who feels as passionate about it as I do.”  That was Sinise, who brought along his Lieutenant Dan Band. “Afterwards, he said, ‘Joe, this is so important, I’d like to be involved as long as I can be.”

And so it is.

This year’s concert features Ed Harris, “American Idol” winner Candice Glover, “The Voice’s” Chris Mann, Broadway stars Katherine Jenkins and Alfie Boe, Colin Powell and many more.  There will be a special segment in tribute to Korean War service members on the 60th anniversary of that conflict.  And, Mantegna reports, there will be a segment on the difficult subject of the high incidence of suicide among veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’ll highlight that — there are some important things that will also be helpful, hopefully, for people watching the show. There will be highlighting of ways to get assistance for those going through these troubles associated with their time in the military.”

Hosting such segments is difficult, he acknowledges. “That whole thing of being in front of a live audience of 300,000 people, let alone the television audience.  It’s pretty awesome, an awesome responsibility.”

Once the concert is through, he’s taking his family to visit his cousin, who owns a resort in Southern Italy.  Then he’ll be shooting episodes of his antique firearms show for the Outdoor Channel in Italy and Germany, then on to Monte Carlo and London to do “Criminal Minds” promotion work.

As for “Minds” future — Mantegna is confident that the show will not only get an early pickup next year, but that his popular CBS drama will go right on through both Season 9 and Season 10.

He saw this year’s slower renewal coming, he says, “just because of the sheer volume of things that had to be worked on.  All of our contracts — all the actors and the showrunners’ contracts — were up.”  But now they’re all tucked in again with two-year deals.

“After that, we’ll see,” he says.

Mantegna never thought that the wrangling would lead to the series’ demise.  “I’ve been in this business long enough to know the value of certain things.  In this instance, even if CBS had for some reason said, ‘We don’t see you on our schedule,’ ABC would have picked us up in a heartbeat because we’re carried by ABC internationally.”

The nice guy actor always seems to be lending his celebrity to veterans’ and autism causes (one of his daughters is autistic) when he isn’t working.  He says that’s partly because the older he gets, the more he feels “I want to give something back, to leave something behind.  I read a quote that the noblest thing you can do is leave the planet in better shape than when you go there, and that’s what I think about.  Of course there are people doing infinitely more than I am in any of the areas I’m involved in.  I feel so grateful for the opportunity to be able to do something.”

Enough With the Celebrity Splits, Here’s a Valentine’s Day Look at Love Among the Stars

Jay-Z and Beyonce WENN.com photo

Recent months have been hell for stories of celebrity splits, from Heidi and Seal to Katy and Russell, Demi and Ashton to Johnny and Vanessa and more.  But today being Valentine’s Day, let us take a moment to shine some light on love in the celebrity leagues — where the gestures are grander, the gifts are more lavish, and imaginations can soar unfettered by bank balance considerations.

 Jennifer Aniston’s vast legions of fans, who’ve suffered with America’s Sweetheart through the Brad Pitt split and painful John Mayer period, can take heart in her declaration that she is now in a “joyful and peaceful place” with Justin Theroux.  If our Jen can find a good man at last, darn it, then there’s hope for all the lovelorn.  Last year, she gifted her hunky beau with a $12,000 jacket that had been worn by James Dean.

Who doesn’t feel heart-warmed by new Mom & Dad Beyonce and Jay-Z, whose investments in expressions of love perhaps outstrip the GNP of a small country by now.  A few examples:  When Beyonce turned 23, Jay-Z blew a half million dollars on a huge hip hop party, complete with live mermaids (okay, they weren’t really mermaids, but not because he couldn’t afford real mermaids!) and an ice sculpture that read “Beautiful B.”  For her 25th, he not only gave his lady a big party in New York, the hip hop mogul reportedly spent $1 million to buy her a 1959 Rolls Royce convertible.  In 2010, she bought him a Bugatti Grand Sport, for a reported $2 million.  His new gigantic sapphire pinky ring, worth an estimated $500,000, is believed to be Beyonce’s gift of thanks to Jay-Z for being such a good daddy to baby Blue Ivy, who is four weeks and three days old today (2/14).  In a related story, Blue Ivy is said to already have more than $1.5 million worth of toys, in addition to her trademarked name and hit record release.  (Jay-Z’s “Glory” included her first sounds, making Blue Ivy the youngest artist ever on the Billboard charts.)

Romantic might not be the first word that leaps to mind when you think of fried-sounding heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne and his potty-mouthed rock matriarch cum talk and reality show queen, Sharon.  But the couple has been wed 30 years this year. They’ve made it through drug and illness nightmares that could have rendered asunder a less devoted pair.  That’s plenty romantic enough.  And how about this?  Ozzy buys pearls for Sharon on Valentine’s Day every year.  She tells the story of how he was performing in Japan the first year they were a couple, and he went into a shop and bought her a strand of pearls there – despite the fact they had no money at the time.  The bill arrived three weeks later, as she related in a U.K. Rate the Music interview, and “I’m like, ‘Oh Ozzy, we’re going to have to work for like six months to pay off this bill!’   So, it’s now become a tradition — pearls.”

Speaking of odd, Shirley Jones and Marty Ingels still strike folks as the unlikeliest of couples – the loud and often grating comic and the genteel Oscar-winning actress and musical star.  They weren’t supposed to last but it’s been 35 years this year since they became husband and wife, and they say they’re a testimony to the power of laughter.  Ingels also knows the power of a spectacular gesture – having pulled such shenanigans as having a mariachi band performing out on their lawn for one of their anniversaries.  He also once purchased an entire candy store in Beverly Hills as a gift for “Shirl,” who happened to like a particular type of candy sold there.  Sweet!

Of course, it doesn’t always have to be about money.   “Criminal Minds” star Joe Mantegna told us his favorite romantic moment “was in 1975.  My love Arlene and I were touring with a play in Europe.  We were like hippies, without much money in our pockets.  We went up to the top of the Eiffel Tower on October 3 and did a kind of personal marriage thing.  We had to go back to Chicago to make it legal, but it’s that October 3 date we celebrate, that we consider our anniversary date.  Even more romantic was a date that came 25 years later — on October 3.  We were with our two daughters and went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and recited our vows again.  What made it more special was that our daughter Mia, who was about 14 at the time, was wearing the same blue jean jacket Arlene had worn that first time.”

And  then there’s Julie Benz of “Dexter” and Charlie Sheen’s upcoming “Anger Management” series.  She recalls, “In fifth grade, Peter Esselman wrote me a letter that said he would love me even if all my hair fell out and I regurgitated all over myself.  And he drew a picture of me with no hair, regurgitating on myself.   That’s love.”

Clinton-Blair Film Could Never Have Gotten Made for Big Screen, Says ‘Special Relationship’ Director Richard Loncraine

Dennis Quaid, Michael Sheen "The Special Relationship" HBO photo

Esteemed filmmaker Richard Loncraine reports that his ‘The Special Relationship’ movie — debuting on HBO tonight (5/29) — is being released theatrically in countries around the globe, save for the United Kingdom, where it will be shown on the BBC.

‘It will be interesting to see how a cinema audience accepts this subject,’ he says of the drama that sheds behind-the-scenes light on the relationship between President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair in the ’90s. ‘Is it the kind of film people will spend money on a babysitter to go see?’

With dazzling performances by Dennis Quaid as Clinton, Michael Sheen as Blair, Hope Davis as Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Helen McCrory as Cherie Blair, ‘The Special Relationship’ will undoubtedly be remembered at awards time. However, Loncraine doubts it could have gotten made for the big screen ‘in the present studio or independent film environment.’ He feels the same way about his Emmy-laden ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘The Gathering Storm’ as well. ‘This is the fourth film I’ve done for HBO and they’ve been a real pleasure,’ adds the director, whose feature credits include such fare as ‘The Missionary,’ ‘Richard III,’ ‘Firewall’ and ‘My One and Only.’

He candidly tells us that ‘The Special Relationship’ ‘really wasn’t much of a challenge for me, to be honest. It was an odd one for me. Peter Morgan decided directing wasn’t for him on this project, and I came in four weeks before principle photography,’ he says, referring to the play and screenwriter, who’d been planning to make his directing debut with the cable film. ‘Usually, directors have been working six months on a production before shooting starts, the last three months of which are very stressful and involve things like not enough money, or arguing with the studio. I didn’t have any of that, so I wasn’t as exhausted as directors usually are.’

He points out that HBO insisted everything be vetted for accuracy, which he did find demanding, especially since, ‘I’m not a particularly political animal.’ Much of the material was new to him, in fact. ‘I was struck by the realization that without Clinton’s infidelity, the world be a different place today. Obviously it was harmful to his wife and family, but it wasn’t like he declared war on South America. It’s stunning to think that such a relatively small event had such enormous repercussions from then on.’

MEANINGFUL DAY: Joe Mantegna, who marks his ninth year of hosting PBS’s National Memorial Day Concert before a crowd of hundreds of thousands on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol this weekend, has been met with much appreciation from veterans, active service members and their loved ones. But he’s not one to take thank-yous for his participation in the music-filled event that celebrates and memorializes the sacrifices made by troops past and present. ‘I mean, look, there’s no reason to thank us. The whole point of this is to thank them. I realize this is probably the most important thing I do all year,’ says the ‘Criminal Minds’ star.

‘The fact I have a career and have a good life and all that is due to the fact that we have people in the military who’ve been out there protecting us. There’s nothing to thank us about. I’m glad to do it.’

For the fifth year in a row, he co-hosts with pal Gary Sinise. This year’s event (check local listings) will include Lionel Richie, Brad Paisley, Blythe Danner, Dennis Haysbert, Yolanda Adams and Colin Powell.

THE VROOM VROOM ROOM: Supermodel-turned-super mogul Kathy Ireland has now turned to the world of super motors.  She has become the most recent celeb (David Letterman and the late Paul Newman come to mind) to become part owner of a major racing team — and car 43 will be carrying her brand out onto the Indie 500 this Sunday (5/30) with none other than John Andretti at the wheel.  The Kathy Ireland Home division of her Kathy Ireland WorldWide design and marketing empire is joining racing legend Richard Petty and Window World as sponsors of this top Memorial Day 500 entry.

Joe Mantegna Proud of ‘Chip Off the Ol’ Block’

Joe Mantegna, Gary Sinise PBS photo

Joe Mantegna couldn’t be prouder that his daughter Gia has her own series, ‘Gigantic,’ coming up on TeenNick this summer. ‘There’s a chip off the ol’ block going on here,’ notes the nice guy ‘Criminal Minds’ star with a smile.

‘She’s a very talented girl, in many way more advanced than I was at that age, from having been around the business all her life,’ he adds of the 20-year-old. ‘I think she’s ready. She’s already done a lot of other things — movies and television. They don’t give you these jobs just because you’re related to someone, you know.’

Mantegna, who heads to D.C. next week to cohost PBS’s The National Memorial Day Concert with buddy Gary Sinise, has commented in the past about how supportive and loving Gia has been with elder sibling Mia, who is autistic. ‘That’s another reason she’s mature for her years, because of growing up with her sister,’ he tells us now.

Gia Mantegna

He reports that Mia has become the first autistic person to graduate from MUD makeup school and is now involved with Joey Travolta’s Inclusion Films, aiming to be a makeup artists. ‘He’s doing great work with kids who have all kinds of disabilities. She’s knee deep in all that and just loves it. I feel very fortunate.’

This will be Mantegna’s ninth year as host of the National Memorial Day Concert — this year with a bill including Lionel Richie, Brad Paisley, Blythe Danner, Dennis Haysbert, Yolanda Adams and Colin Powell.

He recalls, ‘The first year I did it, I had to read the words of four New York City firemen who had lost their sons, who were also firemen, in 9/11. It was life-altering for me.’ Sinise came aboard the always-moving event a few years later. ‘He was touring Iraq with his Lt Dan Band, and I called him and said, ‘You and your band would be a perfect fit for this event. Why don’t you come check it out?’ …When he got in front of 300,000 people and saw how big the whole event was, and how meaningful, he said, ‘Joe, look — as long as you want me to be involved in it, I’ll do it.’ And I said, ‘Why don’t we host it together from now on?’