19
Apr
2024
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Five Questions with Quriosity Exec Producer Mark Conley

What do Harry Connick Jr., Jon Stewart and the best plate of sausage and peppers ever have in common? They’re all right here as Quriosity Productions Executive Producer Mark Conley stops by for a thoroughly entertaining round of Five Questions with SCREEN. Let’s get to it!

SCREEN: If you could appoint ANYONE to be the next President of the United States, who would it be and why?

MARK: That’s funny. So much has happened to our political atmosphere over the past eight that there needs to be a change. I am following the current political race and it is pretty scary considering who the candidates are. My vote, hands down would be Jon Stewart. He is still one of the best political satirist and commentators of our time. He definitely calls it like he sees it and people really need to open their eyes and get a sense of humor these days and lighten up. Since leaving The Daily Show, he has been very active in supporting 9/11 First Responders and many war veteran’s issues. I would love to live in a world where Jon Stewart is the President of the United States.

SCREEN: If you could play any superhero in a major motion picture, who would it be?

MARK: My favorite Superhero movies are the ones where the hero becomes super because of a freak accident. One day you are normal, and then either a radioactive spider bites you or you get hit by some weird asteroid. I also want to be able to fly with my new found powers. So, I probably want to be The Green Lantern. But hopefully I would be a better version than Ryan Reynolds’s. No offense, Ryan.

Mark (and you!) will enjoy this high powered history of the Green Lantern…

SCREEN: Most famous person you’ve ever met?

MARK: I have been fortunate to have worked with many celebrities in my career. When I first got started in this industry, I was a production coordinator for a Japanese owned company called Bianglala. This company would pay everything and everybody in cash, including the celebrity talent.  When we would run short on money, a call would go into the home office and the next day a Japanese assistant would show up in the motorhome, fresh off a plane with a back pack full of cash. The piles of money dumped on my folding table was ridiculous. A lot of big film stars would do commercials for Japan back in the day and they were ridiculously cheesy. But they did it for the money and the spots never aired in the US to hurt their brand.

I would say that the most famous person that I worked with was President Elect Bill Clinton. I was on his Advance and Inaugural team. If you have ever been in a room, where everyone stops and listens to every word that one person has to say, then you know you are witnessing greatness. All jokes aside, Bill Clinton was one of the most welcoming people I have ever met. He talked to everyone in the room and made you feel important. Hillary and her team of “Hillary’s” was an ice show. Bill Clinton was famous before he was famous.

SCREEN: If you could only be a fan of one sports team, which would it be?

MARK: Being from Chicago, Cubby Blue runs in my veins. GO CUBS!

And thank you to Mark for sharing this selfie from enjoying those Cubbies at Wrigley!

SCREEN: One restaurant, one meal, anywhere you want, and we’re buying. What will it be?

MARK: La Scarola, Chicago IL. One of the best true “Old School” Italian restaurants in the city. Start with sausage and peppers, escarole with white beans and their ribeye steak which is sneaky good! Every time I am in Chicago, I tell my friends to meet me there. That is the one place they know they can find me.

BONUS QUESTIONS!

SCREEN: Your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?

MARK: This one is easy. It was 2007, driving around New Orleans with Harry Connick Jr. in a Lincoln SUV. We got to be in the vehicle with him as he gave a private tour of everything that he loved and grew up with in New Orleans. This was two years after Hurricane Katrina hit. He told me that he rushed down to provide aid as soon as he could get a flight in. He was wading through waist high water to get to the Super-Dome, when some one flagged him down and told him that there were a lot of people trapped in the Convention Center and no one knew that they were there. So, he pulled his media team to go there and get them help. What a lot of people don’t know about Harry is that his father was the District Attorney in New Orleans for a long time. And he realized that where he was walking into, to help these people that a lot of them or their family members could have been incarcerated by his father. But he went in anyways to help them as much as he could.

That isn’t even the best part for me of this story. It was a two day shoot. Day one driving around in the Lincoln with Harry as our tour guide. Day two was the block party. We rolled up to a Habitat for Humanity project called Musicians Village. It was a place were you had to be a street musician and you had to physically work on your house, and you could live in it when it was completed. It was beautiful. Every house was a bright different color. We set up a make shift concert stage on one of the metal construction trailers. Well, it started to rain and then really violent winds and lighting came with it. We had to halt the filming until it passed. We were all sitting under our catering tent and Harry started to play the piano. Soon enough, all the residents of the community came out and started playing too. We had a Harry Connick three-hour concert all to ourselves. Best part about that concert was that Harry was really impressed with a young trombone player who was one of the residents and I think he is still part of his band. So, this was a long story, but it still gets me every time.

Great story! And here is that Harry Connick Jr. spot…

SCREEN: Best advice you’ve ever been given?

MARK: I was a young man, recently married, and I met this couple while on a vacation in Costa Rica. We got to talking and they said to me, as you go through life, have integrity, work hard, try not to take shortcuts and don’t worry about the money, because it will come.

Thanks for playing, Mark! For more from Mark and the team at Quriosity, click right here.

Be sure to check back here at SCREEN Magazine for next week’s round of Five Questions with SCREEN. You can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

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