The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Joe Mantegna (“Gun Stories”)

Fans of CBS’s “Criminal Minds” have been watching Joe Mantegna on a weekly basis since 2007, but for the past few years, the man who plays FBI Special Agent David Rossi has been keeping busy during his downtime by hosting the Outdoor Channel series, “Gun Stories,” which recently returned to the network for its third season. Mantegna took some time to talk to Bullz-Eye about how he came about the series and what he’s learned in his time as its host, but he also discussed his work on “Criminal Minds” as well as how much fun he’s had giving voice to Fat Tony on “The Simpsons.”

JoeMantegnaGunStories

Bullz-Eye: So how did you first fall into the Outdoor Channel’s gravitational field?

Joe Mantegna: [Laughs.] Well, you know, it was nothing more complicated than them sending me an email. I got an email that Michael Bane and Tim Cremin, the two fellas who produce, direct, and write the shows, and…they sent it to my website, and my assistant, Dan, came to me with this email, saying, “You know, these guys from Outdoor Channel are interested in doing a show,” and he kind of spelled out basically what they had in mind. And they must’ve read somewhere that, throughout my life, I’ve had an interest in the shooting sports. So it was just one of those things where it hit enough of a hot button for me that I said, “Well, you know what? Let’s just see how serious this is!” You know, that it’s not just some weird scheme by somebody out there who’s pretending to be somebody. [Laughs.]

So we contacted them, and they flew in from Oklahoma and Colorado, respectively, and met me at my trailer at “Criminal Minds” one day, and we talked it out, and I said, “You know what? It sounds interesting.” And it’s kind of funny because…Tim tells a story now about how we did our first shoot at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming, and how, after I flew in, when he saw me walking towards the museum, the first thing he thought was, “Oh, my God, he actually showed up!” [Laughs.] It was, like, right up until that moment, I think everybody was not sure whether it was going to happen or not. But that was three years ago, and I’ve had nothing but a good time with everyone involved, and I’m enjoying it. It’s been kind of a great way to spend my hiatus from my day job.

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A Chat with John Landis (“¡Three Amigos!”)

There’s no point in writing an intro for our conversation with John Landis when we’ve already given a perfectly serviceable synopsis of the man’s life and times on his page within Bullz-Eye’s Directors Hall of Fame – which you can find right here – but we will say that we’ve been looking forward to chatting with Landis for quite some time. Although his publicist regretfully informed us that he didn’t have time to talk when we were pulling together the Hall of Fame, we’d kept our fingers crossed that we’d get an opportunity to talk to him one of these days, and at last that time has come, courtesy of the Blu-ray release of “¡Three Amigos!,” which hits shelves on Nov. 22nd.

Bullz-Eye: First of all, in case you haven’t heard, I should let you know that we put you into our Director’s Hall of Fame last year.

John Landis: Oh, thank you very much!

BE: Our pleasure. After all, we’re a guy-centric site, and it would be fair to say that you’ve made a few movies that have been appreciated by many a man over the years…including, of course, “¡Three Amigos!”

JL: [Laughs.] So did you get a chance to watch the Blu-ray, then?

BE: I did. It looks fantastic.

JL: Yeah, I was able to restore it to the way it’s supposed to be seen. I’m very pleased with the way it looks.

BE: I was actually going to ask you about that process. I presume there’s at least a little bit of difference when it comes to restoring a comedy for Blu-ray versus, say, a full-on special effects extravaganza.

JL: Actually, no. [Laughs.] That would be an untrue presumption. I mean, every picture’s individual, and it depends on the look you were going for with that particular movie. When they made the Blu-ray for “Animal House,” I was upset. I thought they made it much too bright and clean. “Animal House” is supposed to look dirty and funky. [Laughs.] I remember the technician, when I had to check it, he kept writing on his chart, “Image degraded per director.” But every movie you make, you try – or at least I do, anyway – for a different kind of look. On “¡Three Amigos!” I was really trying to go for those beautiful westerns that Hollywood used to make in the ‘50s. The Technicolor pictures. We wanted the colors to be incredibly vibrant. You know, the old DVD wasn’t even the correct aspect ratio. So I’m happy that I got the chance to restore it.

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