-By Veronica Dudo
Mario Lopez is the host of the syndicated entertainment news magazine show “Extra,” the host of MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew,” a children’s book author and the proud new papa of Gia Francesca.
The 37-year-old first garnered fame as popular teen hunk A.C. Slater on the TV show “Saved By the Bell.” Since then, he has written books and appeared on the small screen, even competing on the third season of the reality TV show, “Dancing with the Stars” and finishing in second place.
Over the weekend, he hosted a party at the Pool After Dark inside Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City where he talked about his new TV show, life after “Saved By the Bell,” his children’s book (due out this month!) and his efforts to give back to his community.
What is the idea behind your new reality TV show, H8R?
It’s called “Hater,” and it’s on the CW. It’s sort of like this generation’s Punk’d, but as opposed to the celebrities getting punk’d, the celebs are punking regular people and those people happen to be a hater of theirs, and I just thought it would be interesting to explore the people that sort of are cowards behind the internet and talk a lot of trash about people and how they would feel if they got surprised by the celebrity they’re talking trash about. Then they get the chance to kind of win them over, maybe see if they change their mind, or if they still feel the same, and it’s just a lot of fun–it’s a little edgy, a little loud, but a lot of fun.
Who are some of the celebrities appearing on the show?
Snooki, Kim Kardashian, Charles Barkley.
What is your second children’s book, Mario and Baby Gia, about?
Yeah, I’m real excited–totally different deal. It’s my children’s book coming out. Mario and Baby Gia is a follow-up to my second children’s book, Mud Tacos, and paying homage to my little girl, but in the book she’s my little cousin. The characters are my sister and I when we were little kids. It’s about a baby coming into the family when the other kids have to adapt—it’s all about family and encouraging kids to use their imagination, sharing our culture, too.
Can you talk about your decision to ask for donations in lieu of giving gifts for your daughter’s first birthday?
Birthday parties are a big deal and stuff, but especially the first ones for the kids, so we were having a big old thing with a lot of people but we didn’t really want to have any gifts per se for our little girl. Fortunately, we take care of her pretty well, but we wanted to just ask people to donate to this charity that I work with at a youth center in the neighborhood that I grew up in, and those little kids could really use it and I think it could go a long way. So if they go to myregistry.com and go to “Gia Francesca’s 1st Birthday,” $5, $10–anything–will help these kids. They’re inner city kids, and I’m a former inner city kid, and it will go a long way with these kids.
How has your journey been since having gained fame from “Saved By the Bell” up until now?
I feel very blessed, very fortunate, very happy with “Extra,” my show; with my MTV show “America’s Best Dance Crew;” my show “Hater;” now my children’s book, Mario and Baby Gia, so I’m just very blessed I don’t take it for granted.
BUZZ @ THE BEACH
For the September 9 weekend, Rick Springfield will be performing at Borgata, and Ben Bailey will be appearing for the Borgata Comedy Club. Wilmer Valderrama will host the party at the Pool After Dark inside Harrah’s Resort, Chiddy Bang will be at Showboat’s House of Blues, Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat XXXVI Championship MMA will be at the Tropicana Showroom. Boardwalk Hall hosts the boxing match between Yuriorkis Gamboa and Ponce De Leon, while the Bellator Fighting Championships take place at Caesars Circus Maximus Theater, and the Carnival of Madness featuring Theory of a Deadman, Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry, Adelitas Way and Emphatic is scheduled for Showboat’s House of Blues.