Tonight at 6pm/ET, ESPN2 will merge celebdom with the sports world with the aptly titled ESPN Hollywood. Taking the snap in this hybrid weekly entertainment program is Mario López, who will share hosting duties with Thea Andrews (of ESPN's Cold Pizza). Is Saved by the Bell's A.C. Slater up to the task? TVGuide.com wondered the same thing — and was left wondering a day longer than expected, when Mr. Actor/Jock left us hanging to... try on clothes?!
TVGuide.com: Dude, you blew me off for "a fitting"?
Mario López: Well, you know, not by choice.... It all falls into the "Hollywood" portion of ESPN Hollywood, trying to figure out, "What's this guy going to wear?"
TVGuide.com: Your show has been pegged as Entertainment Tonight meets Sports Center. But just how many baseball movies come out in a year?
López: Whenever sports and entertainment intersect, we will be there. The same way ET covers celebrities and their lives, we'll cover the athletes and theirs, whether its Ben Affleck and his poker tournaments, Snoop Dogg running his youth football league.... We'll have on both athletes and entertainers, who often are all fans of each other. That especially seems to be the case in the hip-hop world — all the rappers want to be ballers, and all the ballers want to be rappers. We'll take advantage of that.
TVGuide.com: How gritty will the reporting get? Let's say Joe NBA Star gets arrested for something sordid...
López: I don't think we'll get too gritty, delving into personal lives and such. But if an O.J. Simpson-type story were unfortunately to break, I'm sure we'd cover it. But at the same time we're not the National Enquirer. We're going to keep it light and fun.
TVGuide.com: Did your experience as a cohost of The Other Half, Dick Clark's male version of The View, teach you anything about this genre?
López: Definitely. I've always hosted shows, and The Other Half was a great opportunity to do it on a regular basis, as I'll be doing here, and to work with a legend. I feel very comfortable in this environment — both of these arenas I'm very familiar with, being an actor and an athlete/huge sports fan. It's a dream job.
TVGuide.com: You're seldom one to settle for single-tasking. Will you be juggling this with your gig as a morning man for Southern California's Hot 92 Jamz?
López: Were still working out the details on that, to see if I can kind of do both. There's also a cartoon being shopped around that I was doing voice work for, and I was also working on Jenny McCarthy's [The Bad Girl's Guide], but that's no longer the case either, obviously.
TVGuide.com: Is Pet Star, the "four-legged American Idol" you were hosting, still around?
López: We finished our run with that after 450-something acts. There are only so many things a dog can do.
TVGuide.com: Your Saved by the Bell legacy lives on. Is that problematic, or something you're still proud of?
López: It's flattering to get recognized still. I guess it means I haven't aged too poorly. I'm taking Dick Clark pills. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Now give me some dirt: Did you and Mark-Paul Gosselaar jockey for airtime? Who wasn't immune to the charms of Tiffani Thiessen's acid-washed jeans?
López: Everybody asks that question. Our E! True Hollywood Story was the most boring one, because there was really no drama going on. Our parents were always around, so we couldn't get into too much trouble.
TVGuide.com: You box to keep in shape. Which were you most a fan of: Million Dollar Baby, Cinderella Man or TV's The Contender?
López: "All of the above." I'm so glad that boxing was a part of those great projects. I think the people who watched The Contender and gave it a chance loved it, it had a certain cult following. I don't know if it crossed over with the female viewers as much, but a lot of guys loved it and I thought it was some of Mark Burnett's best work. And, it turns out, it's heading to ESPN [for Season 2]. Million Dollar Baby speaks for itself, winning the Academy Award and everything. And Cinderella Man was yet another great film.
TVGuide.com: I was poking around your official website's store. Does your mom have the Mario López key chain?
López: Oh, my god, she has everything. I didn't even know there was something like that around, but I'm sure she has it.
TVGuide.com: I also read somewhere you're developing a stage play called The Mangina Monologues, based on your experiences with women?
López: Oh, no, no. That's new to me. [Laughs] That could be a book, but... fortunately it hasn't been written yet.
TVGuide.com: What did your brief marriage teach you about the fairer sex? [Lopez's April 2004 marriage to Ali Landry was annulled after three weeks.]
López: Just to really be sure before you take that [step]. Fortunately, everything worked out...
TVGuide.com: You don't get melancholy when you see a Doritos bag?
López: [Laughs] No, we're still friends and everything. We're pretty cordial with each other.
TVGuide.com: Well, I'm excited for your show. Sports? Good. Hollywood? Good. What's not to like!
López: I know, exactly. I hope people check it out!