Tony Reali, host of ESPN's "Around the Horn," said appearing as cartoon villain "The Dark One" for Disney XD’s "Kick Buttowski" for an episode debuting Saturday morning is "the most fun I had away from the mute button."
Weekdays, Reali spends hours talking sports with his colleagues in his Washington, D.C., studio for "Around the Horn" and "Pardon the Interruption." He hosts one show and costars in another.
"Not a second goes by that it feels like work," said Reali, who started out as a researcher/writer for "PTI" and moved into the hosting chair for "ATH" in 2004. "This, for me, is my dream job," he said. "I'd be doing exactly what I do off camera, just for fun."
For Disney XD cable network, Reali follows in the footsteps of colleagues Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon on "Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil," which tells the story of a boy aspiring to become the world's greatest daredevil.
In Saturday's episode, also starring Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, Reali gets to the don the mask of a villain, and he loved every minute of it.
"Do you know how many times I dreamed of playing an evil villain in a cartoon? This is for me!" said Reali, who was born in Staten Island, N.Y., and graduated from Fordham University. "I've had that maniacal laugh ready for 20 years, and I finally get the call-up!"
Reali said his dad still has bigger aspirations for him: "Pop Reali wants me to host 'Jeopardy.' He loves to watch it and put it on the DVR, and then my mom comes in and they watch it together again."