Sunday 25 September 2011

Hampsteader Scherzer back to promote book on Hollywood

Mark Scherzer
It was 1991 and native Montrealer Mark Scherzer was living in New York City and working for Macy’s Department Store and his way to being appointed a buyer, which at the time looked as if it could lead to a long term career with the potential to rise up the corporate ladder. Then one day he had an epiphany.

“This was not for me,” Scherzer was telling me last week. “My heart was not in it. I always wanted to work in entertainment, so I took a leap of faith and even though I knew only one person in Los Angeles – my sister’s best friend Tammy Adler Green who was in the business. I called and asked if I could stay with her. She agreed, I pounded the pavement and ultimately my dream was realized.”

Scherzer spent the next 20 years shuffling back and forth between LA and New York, securing a regular slew of writing and producing gigs for television and film. It is this experience which led to him co-authoring a new book released recently called Hire Me Hollywood! Your Behind-the-Scenes Guide to the Most Exciting - and Unexpected - Jobs in Show Business. He will be in Montreal on Saturday, October 1 (4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) for a signing at Chapters on Ste. Catherine Street. Two days later he will return to Hampstead Elementary School for the first time since attending classes there 35 years ago and share some stories with the present student body.

Last year Scherzer moved back to New York on a permanent basis, most to be close to his three siblings. A brother also lives in the Big Apple while two sisters reside in New Jersey, one of whom is Linda Scherzer. She was the CNN correspondent in Israel during the Gulf War. He is also focusing a lot of attention on a new initiative he started with his brother-in-law called Ironwill Kids PowerUp, a fun, interactive nutrition experience designed to get kids excited about food and the role it plays in a healthy lifestyle. Based on research and behavior change theory, PowerUp! gives students the knowledge and skills necessary to make healthy food choices. Created especially for fourth and fifth graders, the program aligns with national and state standards and incorporates disciplines like language arts, math, science and social studies.

“I drew on my experience as a kids TV writer to create a character-based nutrition program for kids that's very hands on and a lot of fun,” Scherzer said. “I developed it with a professor from Columbia University and a pediatrician. It's currently being used in schools in the United States and we are expanding. I am thrilled to be sharing it with my first school in Canada, the school I attended as a child. It's character based, so the kids take turns assuming these roles each week. There are scripts for each of the lessons so they put on a mini-play each week. There are also stories written in a kind of Diary of a Wimpy Kid tone. One of the things we hear from educators is how much info the kids absorb through this method.”

As for the book, Scherzer and co-author Keith Fenimore provide not just a “how to,” but a “how did,” with a candid look at 30 people from across the entertainment industry at the top of their game as producers, actors, editors and more. There are a number of interesting names among this group, including Michael Gelman of Live With Regis and Kelly, film critic Leonard Maltin, publicist Gail Becker, Entertainment Tonight co-host Mark Steines and comic book legend Stan Lee.

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