According to over 50-year impresario veteran Mark Schoenfeld, “Nothing extraordinary happens by ordinary means. Talent is ubiquitous. It’s everywhere. It’s not only in New York or Los Angeles and Nashville. It’s literally everywhere. And talent, great talent in and of itself, will never conquer the world of show business. It’s not the main thing. Someone has to know the terrain, has to have a network, and know-how to develop that talent on a certain level,” explains Schoenfeld. “Look at Motown. All those acts came from one small neighborhood. They weren’t in N.Y. They weren’t in Los Angeles. They weren’t in Nashville. They came from a Detroit inner-city project. Someone mined that gold. That was Berry Gordy, and that is true today and I’m proof of it, of mining the gold right here in New Hampshire.”
With an impressive list of singers, dancers, producers, and authors under his belt, that is exactly what Schoenfeld does.
Like many in 2020, Schoenfeld was held up in Manchester, unable to travel to his west coast haven of Beverly Hills due to the pandemic, and was introduced to an unexpected proposal. A project that although he had thoughts of entertaining in the past, he had not executed. The idea was a reality television show. “I created seven reality shows, with Asha Mevlana, the fierce rock violinist for Trans Siberian Orchestra, and sold three of them so far. By the time the pandemic is over, I might create 20,” says Schoenfeld.
Known as “The Pitchman of Hollywood,” (a moniker given to him by Jeffrey Katzenberg, founder of Dreamworks along with Steven Spielberg) Schoenfeld’s Tinseltown connections are numerous including the Emmy, Tony, and Grammy-winning actor Hugh Jackman, film producer, music executive, and co-founder of Maverick Records Freddy DeMann, prolific President of Epic Records and industry legend, Ron Alexenburg. With multiple record deals and five screenplays sold, Schoenfeld may be best known for his 2004 cult Broadway musical, “BKLYN.”
I had the opportunity to interview Schoenfeld about his latest venture.
CC: Who are the people you discovered in New Hampshire?
MS: Jodi Katz: I discovered this 17-year-old in the audience while giving a speech at her high school. She is infectious magic. She can change the molecules in a room by simply walking into it and she has become the lead singer/dancer of the Trans Siberian Orchestra, and also works as a background singer with the legendary pop star Cher. She has toured the world over six times.
Mark Dagostino: I discovered him at 22-years-old when he was a cub reporter for The New Hampshire division of the Boston Globe. He’s a writer extraordinaire, we wrote and created two movie projects together and sold them. He became the editor of People Magazine, and since then, a New York Times bestselling author six times.
Jasmen Hunter: I discovered her at 22-years-old when Edward Bordeleau, of Bedford Regional Idol Scholarship Competition introduced her to me. She’s a raw and riveting pop artist. The dance floors of America didn’t stand a chance. I got her into two TV shows. One, a major hit, and Bradley Bredeweg, co-creator of The Fosters and Good Trouble, agreed to co-manage her with me.
Nina Dicker: Jasmen introduced her to me at 22-years-old. She’s a razor edge comedy writer and actress. Comedy so edgy it will make you bleed with laughter. Her independent book, “Tangerine Vagina – (True Stories of Childhood Misfortune and Meaningless Sex)” is optioned and is now being adapted for a television series called Confessions of a Coho (Nina’s term for “college hoe”).
Emma Jedow” Emma was introduced to me by opera singer Carlos Martinez, at 15-years-old. Brutally introspective singer/songwriter who created the songs and video “The Death of a Taylor Swift Wanna Be.” Today, she writes songs with Paul Sadoti, Taylor Swift’s current and longtime guitarist.
Carlos Martinez: I met him at 52-years-old. Stunning world-class, worldwide opera singer. He sings in 12 languages. Today, he is a voiceover artist on Disney projects.
Linzi Fenix: I met her in NH when she was 17-years-old and she accidentally bumped into me in Beverly Hills. She asked for my help. One year later, she’s doing lead roles in Lifetime movies.
Connor Hayes: I discovered him at 27-years-old. His company is called “Project 2.” He is a Grammy-nominated video producer of famed rapper Joyner Lucas, now producing films for Hollywood.
Finally, Victoria Fatukasi: I discovered her at 21-years-old. She was introduced to me by Edward Bordeleau. She can sing an eagle off a cliff. She is a nuclear-powered soul singer, who will leave you breathless. She will hopefully be joining the Trans Siberian Orchestra in 2022. I’m bringing her to all the powers that be in Broadway.
CC: Most people don’t usually get to the finish line, why?
MS: They realize the road to a show business life is too hard. It’s demanding of what they have to do. They just think, well, I’ve been in five plays in high school. I had the lead and I should be a star on Broadway.
No one cares.
CC: Are you open to people getting in touch with you to pitch any ideas or perform for you?
MS: Yeah, so I’m looking for people who think they have terrific pitch for a movie, a reality show, a TV series. I’m looking for people that think they have performance talent, singing, and acting, Broadway, movies, television, again, if you think you have it, that’s just the starting point. But I always want to stress that the greatest talent in and of itself will not conquer Hollywood. The proof is in the pudding: Just look at all the movies and the series on platforms like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV. Is everyone super-talented? The answer is no, so the greatest talent didn’t make it. The cream doesn’t rise to the top all by itself.
CC: Mark, did you have someone like yourself in the beginning when you got to show business?
MS: I’ve never had someone like me, but I was raised in the Bronx. I was raised in a tough neighborhood, with a Bronx attitude, and the attitude goes like this; the question isn’t who’s gonna let me in, the question is who is gonna f*ckin stop me?
CC: If you want to be a star, isn’t that the attitude that you would need to have?
MS: Yes, because fortune favors the bold, even if they have great talent. People I’ve discovered just locally, and remember I’ve discovered people all over that have become major producers in Hollywood, didn’t get there by having that talent, they got there by having me work with them and figure out how I develop their particular talent, and what doors I opened for them. That’s the reason it happened. Most people never realize when opportunity is in their grasp. “Here’s a joke, but with serious undertones. “Knock, knock/who’s there?/opportunity/you’re an imposter ‘cuz opportunity only knocks once.”
CC: What do you say to the people who say, I’ll use social media, I’ll just go on Tik-Tok because people have made it that way?
MS: The answer is you should do that because every week, someone wins the lottery. I’m not a believer in lotteries. I believe you get what you work for.
Mark has the ability to find that ’je ne sais quoi,’ whatever that star element is. Once he’s a believer in your ability, he’s a pitbull. He’s never gonna let go. He’ll stop at nothing to make that person successful.” – Richard Arlook, Hollywood power agent
⇒ Connect with Mark Schoenfeld here