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.”

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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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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Ted Nugent (“Spirit of the Wild”)

There was a time when Ted Nugent was known only for his contributions to rock ‘n’ roll (one of the greatest of which, of course, is giving the world a song entitled “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang”), but that time has long since passed. These days, Nugent is certainly still well regarded as a rocker, but he’s at least as readily identified by his political stances and his profound enjoyment of hunting. Believe it or not…and I couldn’t believe it, so I looked it up, but, yep, it’s true…Nugent has been hosting his own outdoor series for 25 years now, and the series in question – “Spirit of the Wild” – is now back on the Outdoor Channel for another season. Bullz-Eye had the opportunity to chat with Nugent in conjunction with the series’ return, and you will not be surprised to hear that he had a great deal to say.

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Bullz-Eye: Well, I’m sure you’re thrilled that “Spirit of the Wild” is back again, but it’s almost incomprehensible that this is its 25th season.

Ted Nugent: How ‘bout that? Am I adorable or what? [Laughs.] Isn’t there an award for being the most precious, adorable bow hunter in the world?

BE: Yes, I believe it’s called the Nugent.

TN: I believe you’re right! [Laughs.]

BE: I’m curious about the origins of the show, since the math makes it clear that it’s been around longer than the Outdoor Channel.  How did it first come about? And how did it come to end up on the Outdoor Channel?

TN: Well, you know, this is a story that… I’m shocked. Well, I guess I’m not shocked. Barack Obama’s the President. [Laughs.] How much shock can we handle? Our Attorney General runs guns to Mexican drug gangs! Is there any shock left? Our government picks out people to harass with the tax agency! I guess my shock cup runneth over. But I’m equally shocked, I’ve gotta tell you, that this story has not been pursued.

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