Ralph Macchio says Dancing With the Stars gave him "a very positive shot in the arm." Competing on the show last year was hard work, and his knees would have liked it a lot better "20 years ago," says the original Karate Kid star, who is now 50.
'American Gypsies' producer Ralph Macchio says viewers shouldn't expect any 'Jersey Shore'-esque antics. "Six-pack abs are not something you see on our show."
But he loved performing and loved the fans. "The joy I got was how much joy everyone else got out of it."
However, he will not be on the All-Star edition that kicks off in the fall. "I think that cast is set already," he said Monday in a phone interview. He says, "I hear it's finalists," all previous top-3 performers.
"I never campaigned," he says. (Like Joey Lawrence has on Twitter.) "I would have been flattered if they came to me, but I think it happened at the right time."
In other words, he has other things to do.
Tonight, a four-year labor of love is being realized, when American Gypsies, a new docu-series he's producing for National Geographic channel airs at 9 ET/PT. He saw a bit of footage of Bobby Johns and his family, New York Gypsies. It was filmed by a family friend's son, who was making a grad school project documentary. Macchio says friends and fans will often tell him, " 'I have this great idea.' And you smile through it and say why it won't work. This took me 30 seconds. I was fascinated."
He met with Stick Figure Productions, the group behind 2004 UPN series Amish in the City, and now the first of nine planned episodes will kick off tonight.
"You hear 'Gypsies,' and you think lying, thieving, stealing nomadic people moving from town to town," says Macchio. The Johns family, he says, "will be the first to tell you that the word Gypsy is a slang they don't like to use. They consider themselvs Romani or Roma culture."
Macchio says the Johns, born-again Christians who own psychic shops in New York City, agreed to be on the show to help end the "negative connotation. I think they want to be recognized as a minority group and not the stereotypical negative that comes along with it."
Macchio acknowledges he has "mixed feelings" about reality TV. "I've come up in the scripted world, and I have wished there were more time slots for us to tell compelling scripted stories and not fill the airwaves with a lot of fluff and tabloid entertainment."
American Gypsies is designed to be "entertaining," he says, but he adds that "it's not purely JerseyShore. We didn't cast our hot chick and six-pack-abs guy." In fact, he says with a chuckle, "Six-pack abs are not something you see on our show. They like to eat and celebrate and play. They also stay true to what they believe in."
Macchio also has recently taken a turn in a scripted project - a big one. He just wrapped filming on Hitchcock, in which he plays Joe Stefano, the screenwriter of Psycho. Co-stars include Scarlett Johansson, Helen Mirren, Jessica Biel, Toni Collette and Anthony Hopkins. He didn't have any scenes with Johansson, Mirren or Biel, but did work with Collette and Hopkins. "It's really exciting to be a part of that ensemble. It's not the biggest role in the film, but it's going to be a nice piece to be in."
In October, he'll be back on the TV Land sitcom Happily Divorced, playing Fran Drescher's love interest, and he stars in a Lifetime Christmas-themed movie, Holiday Spin. "It's all good," he says.