Third Watch fans won over by the heroics of dedicated paramedic Bobby Caffey last season are in for a rude awakening. The character's portrayer, Bobby Cannavale, reveals that this year the perpetual straight arrow turns to the dark side.

"Something big and dramatic is going to happen to Bobby," the actor tells TV Guide Online, "and he's going to rethink giving 100 percent of himself for others. He'll be a little tougher."

Well, judging by the positive response Cannavale has been getting from viewers, producers of the NBC drama may not want to tamper too much with his popular alter ego. Even in New York City — where the show is based — the New Jersey native is treated like a king. "I have actually been picked up three or four times by ambulance drivers when I'm trying to hail a taxi," he marvels. "They just pull over and give me ride as far as they can without going out of their way. I'm just glad that they all seem to really love the show."

Another perk of being a TV celebrity is having the opportunity to rub elbows with even bigger stars, as Cannavale did when he recently co-hosted the 14th Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards with Raquel Welch. The ceremony was attended by such Hispanic heroes as Oscar winner Anthony Quinn and baseball great Sammy Sosa. For his part, the actor believes it's important that Hispanics like himself are gaining greater visibility.

"When I grew up in Union City, NJ, there weren't many role models around," Cannavale says. "I guess the biggest influences in my life were my parents who kept me off the streets and out of trouble. Now, we're celebrating Latin role models on national television."