Second trip to NRA Museum exceeds actor's expectations

Actor Joe Mantegna stands with a German Luger inside the National Firearms Museum Fairfax, Virginia - To quote Joe, it was serendipitous.

The Joe is Chicago born actor Joe Mantegna. Known for his roles in Godfather III, Searching for Bobby Fischer, The Simpsons (as Fat Tony) and Criminal Minds, Mantegna arrived at NRA Headquarters last month to film portions of his new show Gun Stories. And the serendipity surrounds his second stay at the NRA's National Firearms Museum.

"I've been coming to the Washington, DC area for more than twenty years and always wanted to come to the Museum," explained Mantegna. "I remember once I was late or you were closed ... can't remember which. And then, after NRA moved out here to Virginia, the schedule is usually a little too tight to get away. So it's kind of ironic that this is my second trip out here with Gun Stories. It exceeds all my expectations.

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Outdoor Channel completes National Firearms Museum shoot

Joe Mantegna at the NRA Museum's Petersen Gallery Fairfax, Virginia - On the final day of filming, the ragtag crew from Outdoor Channel's Gun Stories poured into the National Firearms Museum's Robert E. Petersen Gallery. Filled with four-hundred of the finest sporting arms in the world, the Petersen Gallery provided the perfect backdrop to this award winning show.

"It's been fun having them here," said Museum Director Jim Supica. "They've got a great show, a great host in Joe Mantegna and we're happy to be part of it."

Gun Stories follows a collection of firearms from invention through implementation. Each time gauging the impact every gun had on the battles and the people who put them to use. And for Mantegna, the job is practically a dream come true.

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Actor Joe Mantegna posing with an AK rifle at the National Firearms Museum Fairfax, Virginia - For the better part of a week, Chicago actor Joe Mantegna has been calling the NRA's National Firearms Museum home. Here to film segments for Season 2 of Gun Stories, Mantegna and the crew have been methodically working their way through the Museum while highlighting some of our treasures. How's that for a plum gig?

Gun Stories, another runaway hit for Outdoor Channel heavyweight Michael Bane, "looks at the operation and performance of each gun, from classics like the Mauser bolt-action, to cutting-edge firearms like the Adaptive Combat Rifle. Throughout the series, historians, shooters, trainers and industry experts place these weapons in their historical and social context, making Gun Stories a unique and definitive collection on the history of firearms."

But it's not just about this guns. While here, they've also sat down with our cadre of experts including Museum Director Jim Supica, Senior Curator Phil Schreier and American Rifleman Editor-in-Chief Mark Keefe.

Once we get the go ahead from decision makers overseeing the show, we'll provide a break down of the firearms they focused on and share some shots of Joe and the guns ... like that AK he's sporting in the pictures above.

Like I said, how's that for a plum gig?

Joe Mantegna preparing to shoot the Outdoor Channel's Gun Stories at the National Firearms Museum
Actor Joe Mantegna shooting a segment of Gun Stories at the NRA.

Fairfax, Virginia - Joe Mantegna's first trip to the National Firearms Museum occurred almost a year ago today. Along with Michael Bane and the Outdoor Channel crew, he was here to shoot segments of the soon to be debuted television show Gun Stories. Fast forward eleven months and a couple of Golden Moose awards later, Joe and the crew are back at the NRA for season two.

"Today (Monday the 14th) we're going to start with the Thompson Machine Gun, the Garand and the Luger," said Director Tim Cremin. "Later in the week we'll move on to your Hollywood Guns exhibit and maybe get a look in the museum vault."

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NFM Director Jim Supica, Senior Curator Phil Schreier and NRA Rifleman Editor in Chief Mark Keefe interviewed for the Outdoor Channel's Gun Stories on NRAblog

Bringing his Outdoor Channel crew and Joe Mantegna to the NRA National Firearms Museum to film a few episodes of "Gun Stories" (set to air in July) wasn't all Michael Bane had in mind when he came to NRA headquarters earlier this month. He also was looking to tap some of the finest firearms minds in the country.

"Jim, Phil and Mark really know their stuff," said Bane. "They are a welcome addition to the show and we'll be sure to find a way to find a place for them in next season's episodes."

Speaking on everything from break tops to GLOCK 23s, each provided a unique bit of insight on a handful of firearms. With Bane and Gun Stories Director Tim Cremin peppering the guys with (sometimes questionable) questions from off camera, Supica, Schreier and Keefe sat in the spotlight and delivered.

"I think Michael was just trying to make me laugh," said Supica. "But it made for a friendly, comfortable environment that hopefully comes across to the audience."

Michael Bane and Joe Mantegna at the National Firearms Museum filming Gun Stories on NRAblog For those of you following closely, you're probably wondering exactly how Joe Mantegna ended up hosting a show on the Outdoor Channel much less shooting a few episodes at the NRA National Firearms Museum. Well that was all due to Michael Bane.

Bane, once a competitive shooter and now an immensely respected gun guru, currently hosts or produces about five shows for the Outdoor Channel.

“When we were storyboarding “Gun Stories”, we realized that we had to come to the NRA,” said Bane. “(Senior Curator Phil) Schreier has stories about every gun ever produced and Jim (Supica, Director of the Museum) literally wrote the book on the Smith & Wesson Model 3.”

Bane envisions the new show as a documentation of history ... as well as an entertaining way to spend a half-hour on Wednesday nights.

“There are so many stories and guns that have disappeared or been forgotten,” said Bane. “Plus Hollywood has a habit of distorting how firearms actually work. Mel Gibson's Beretta 92 in Lethal Weapon, for example, doesn't fire that many rounds without reloading.”

For now, Bane has his hands full as the first show hits the airwaves in July. Once that happens, and it (hopefully) receives good reviews from the audience and critics, shooting for the second season will begin.

“We've noticed a few things while shooting season one,” explained Bane. “Season 2 will be even better because of it. Plus we have Joe. And Joe can do this in his sleep.”

With roles ranging from the caring father to Mafia tough guy, Joe Mantegna's career on the stage and screen has spanned more than 40 years. Profiler David Rossi in “Criminal Minds,” father Fred Waitzkin in Searching for Bobby Fisher and Mafia Boss Fat Joe Mantegna with a Russian Smith & Wesson golden revolver at the National Firearms Museum filming Gun Stories on NRAblog Tony in “The Simpsons” are just a few of his credits. In less than a month, you can add host of the Outdoor Channel's “Gun Stories” to his IMDB resume.

This week, Joe was in DC to take part in the Honoring Our Fallen Warriors event, host The National Memorial Day Concert, and film a few segments of Gun Stories at the National Firearms Museum. To kick off the day, he shared a story about his morning.

“A lady in the hotel comes up to me with a big smile,” said Mantegna. “She told me that I'm her son's favorite football player.”

The crowd and crew broke out in laughter while Mantegna grinned. “What can you do?”

Setting up in the Robert E. Petersen Gallery, the camera man worked on the lights, the director reviewed the lines, and Joe handled the guns. So how'd they sell him on the show?

“They said there'd be a lot of guns.”

Joe Mantegna with Major Hessian's US Springfield 1903 bolt action rifle at the National Firearms Museum filming Gun Stories on NRAblog Mantegna's enthusiasm for firearms was sparked at a gun club on the shores of Lake Michigan. The facility now closed, he watched from the parking lot as members continued knocking skeet from the sky.

“One day I was hanging out on my bike, and this doctor in a great big Cadillac pulls a Perazzi from out of the trunk,” Mantegna recalled. “He asked me if I was going to shoot or just sit there. I told him I'd never fired a gun before. So he pulls another Perazzi from the trunk, takes me in the club and teaches me to shoot. It was a perfect day.”

The good doctor continued teaching Joe how to shoot, offered advice on what to purchase (a Remington 1100 he still owns today) and ensured his entry into the club.

It was that early mentoring that allowed him to stand out to one of Hollywood's early legends.

“I was at this event with Robert Stack,” said Mantegna. “I went up and asked him for an autograph. He probably had a lot of young actors using that as an excuse to met him so it wasn't that big a deal, but when he saw I had a copy of his shotgun book (Shooting Straight,) he lit right up.” More

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