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.
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?’