By Ken Rice

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Joe Manganiello, the Hollywood heartthrob from Mount Lebanon, has a lot on his plate: acting, directing and an upcoming marriage to “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara.

And yet, KDKA’s Ken Rice found him right here in his hometown on Wednesday. Not working, just doing good deeds.

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He was making rounds, visiting patients at Children’s Hospital. His life may be in Hollywood, but Manganiello’s heart remains here.

“I don’t care about being famous,” says Manganiello. “I never have.”

He does care about kids, and has made Children’s Hospital his number one cause.

“You go and you meet these kids,” he says, “and you look at how valiantly they’re fighting whatever illness it is that they have, and it really puts into perspective the kind of struggle you think you have.”

Manganiello has come home to be honorary chair at the “Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation’s 125th Anniversary Gala” Friday night at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

He says being back home reminds him of what’s different about Pittsburgh – a set of standards that he says other cities lack.

“Don’t embarrass your city. Don’t embarrass your high school. Don’t embarrass your family name. Don’t be a jerk,” he says.

Manganiello says he can sense it when he runs into a Pittsburgher someplace else and they exchange what he calls “a secret nod.”

“It’s like, ‘We were raised the same way, to respect people,’” says Manganiello. “So, I think that’s kind of the beauty of being home.”

Ken asked Manganiello about his upcoming wedding, and whether it would include a particular Pittsburgh tradition.

Ken: “Now, you and Sofia come from different cultures. Does she understand the significance of a cookie table?”

Joe: “Ah, she’s more of a cake person.”

Ken: “So, no cookie table at Joe Manganiello’s wedding?

Joe: “Maybe we’ll get some Eat ‘n Park Smiley Cookies.”

How perfect. And good humored. Just like Joe Manganiello, hit with a tongue-in-cheek question:

Ken: “What do you and Sofia see in each other, physically, because frankly, looking at it from either side, I don’t get it.”

Joe: “Ha! I don’t know, man. It’s just different strokes for different folks, I guess.”

Before his interview with Ken, Manganiello also appeared on Pittsburgh Today Live Wednesday morning. There, he talked more about the Children’s Hospital anniversary, but he also discussed local sports. He’s a big Steelers and Pirates fan.

“I love Pittsburgh, I love kids, and I love what Children’s Hospital does, kids that are sick have to take a break from being a kid, and the hospital makes that transition so easy for kids,” he told KDKA-TV.

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Ken will emcee the gala.

Manganiello grew up in Mt. Lebanon, attended Mt. Lebanon High School and Carnegie Mellon University.

“It’s important for me to be active in my community, and Pittsburgh,” he told Kristine Sorensen on Pittsburgh Today Live.

Joe is a huge Pittsburgh sports fan and talked about what went through his mind when he watched quarterback Ben Roethlisberger get injured during the Rams game Sunday.

“I thought the worst, the way his knee looked went he went down, and then the expression on his face, I thought, he knows something happened,” he said. “But miraculously nothing was torn, which is the biggest bullet dodged.”

He is friends with former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, and was in Canton to see “The Bus” inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.

“There’s such a sense of pride that we all have being Pittsburghers, nobody says anything bad about Pittsburgh when they’re around Pittsburghers,” he said. “Your heart just swelled being there.”

He told KDKA he’s looking forward to the Pirates post-season, “They are a dangerous team, they can beat anybody on any given day so I’m really excited and proud of the way that they are playing.”

Hundreds of guests are expected to attend Manganiello and Vergara’s wedding.

“It’s for her, she loves decorating, she loves planning, it’s very traditional, along those lines,” he told Sorensen.

Manganiello said one of the hardest parts about the wedding, is the number of people that are trying to ruin their big day.

“There’s a lot of people that are seeking to ruin that day for us, paparazzi, tabloids, they want to destroy that day,” he said. “It’s our private, special day, I’m a human being, I’m a kid from Mt. Lebanon who just wants to have a special wedding and not have it ruined by helicopters, and boats, and paparazzi renting rooms at the hotel.”

Manganiello said security has been a big factor in the wedding planning.

“We’re normal people, we have to carve out our bubble,” he said. “That’s one of the things that really attracted me to her, she’s normal, we’re very normal people when it comes down to it, with crazy jobs.”

Manganiello said he is working on a couple very big projects that he is just about ready to announce, including adapting a NY Times Best seller to a screenplay.

He’s also said he is going to direct, produce and star in it.

“I’m going to direct at documentary series, on a cool topic, that will take me around the world.”

He also said he has two movies coming out early in 2016. One called “Tumbledown” which comes out on Valentine’s Day.

The other is a new Pee-wee Herman movie called “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday” in which Manganiello plays Pee-wee’s best friend.

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