LOS FELIZ—One of Hollywood’s brightest stars, is a behind the scenes maverick, whose creative instincts have launched the careers of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. From Antonio Sabato, Jr. to Vanessa Marcil and Ingo Rademacher. Mark Teschner is not only a star maker, but one of the kindest men on the planet. We have an idea from movies and many TV shows, that the masters behind the scenes are often maniacal and tough characters. That’s certainly what I thought two decades ago when I ventured to live and work amongst the stars of Tinseltown.
Then the day came when I met the man everyone talks glowingly about. Mark Teschner joined the short-list of my mentors, which included the Bells, the Spellings, publicists and writers in the industry. Teschner was everything I’d heard he was. From being gracious, humble, multitalented and a creative genius. The native New Yorker has been an independent casting director for close to three decades, has been described by Rolling Stone magazine as “an actor’s casting director” and TV Guide’s Michael Logan noted his “unparalleled track record for finding top new talent.”
In 1989, Teschner began his genius skills as a casting director at ABC’s mega daytime drama “General Hospital” and the recent spin-off of the series “General Hospital: Night Shift.” Mark is a three-time Emmy-winner for Outstanding Achievement in Casting for 2005-2006, 2006-2007 and 2007-2008. He has also received three additional and well-deserved nominations. A four time recipient of the Artios Award for Outstanding Achievement in Daytime Drama Casting, he also has received an additional 13 nominations. He is a former vice president of the Casting Society of America and is serving on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Mark cast film star Constance Towers as the ever exciting and dangerous Helena Cassadine on “General Hospital” in 1997. I rode in his car with him to deliver her first script to her agent’s office back then. It was an exciting time for “GH” and for Towers, as it’s been creative magic ever since. Towers tells Canyon News, “He is so good at what he does. I’ve had this wonderful run on ”˜GH’ because of Mark. He had the courage to cast me as Helena (I certainly don’t look like Elizabeth Taylor, who used to play the role). I will always be grateful to him. He has incredible instincts and in casting that is essential. Everyone loves him. He is one of the nicest human beings I know, and his big blue eyes give Frank Sinatra’s a real run for their money.”
Teschner sat down with Canyon News this week and in his own words described his fabled and well-deserved career.
Q-After decades of casting of ABC shows, films and other primetime TV shows, what was the hardest role you’ve had to cast in the past decade?
A-“Tommy, all the roles are hard to cast. I wish there was such a thing as an easy role. Every series regular/contract role has to be that magical combination of talent (first and foremost) and charisma. That ”˜it’ factor that will make a character really pop. I am trying to find someone that the audience will embrace ”“ and be excited about ”“ and want to watch every day. That’s why every role is a challenge. I think the ongoing recasting of the ”˜Carly’ [General Hospital] role has been an exquisite challenge. They all have been wonderful and different. Laura Wright has chemistry with everyone. My greatest casting is my daughter Amelia, who turns 6 in December.”
Q-People are always asking me who the nicest people in this industry are. Your name consistently is at the top of my list and hundreds of other people in this industry agree with me. Did you always want to be a casting director?
A-“I think I was always drawn to show business. I grew up outside of New York City and was fortunate enough to have parents that exposed me to the arts at a young age. I saw my first Broadway show when I was 7! That must have prepared me to be a Casting Director. I was immersed in theater in high school and college, and actually moved to NYC to pursue acting. I was a good actor, but I am a much better Casting Director. I have been casting for 27 years now, and this December is my 21 year anniversary of Casting ‘GH’. It’s my favorite job ever. Thank you for the lovely compliment. I love what I do; I love actors and have great compassion for them. Acting is a very, very difficult profession and I try to treat every actor ”“ whether well-established or new ”“ with respect and kindness. If I am kind and supportive, I will get the best from them in the room!”
Q-Mark, do you have any big outside projects coming up this year?
A-“I was lucky enough to cast some feature films last year and am particularly excited about two films. The first is ”˜Elephant White.’ I don’t know when it will be released but it is an action film with great spirituality and it stars Djimon Honsou [‘Blood Diamond’ and ‘Amistad’] and Kevin Bacon. The other is a very funny comedy about horse racing called ”˜And They’re Off’ starring Sean Astin and Cheri Oteri. But my main focus is always ”˜General Hospital.’”
Q-You know that I have always said Ingo Rademacher is the best casting move you have ever made. When you first met him in 1996, what was it that made you see him as Jasper Jax?
A-“Once we met Ingo he was the only actor we considered for the role. He had charm, charisma and a subtle irreverent presence. He’s done pretty well for himself here.”
Teschner is always positive and sees the glass as half full. As for the end of several soaps over the past decade, he still has faith in the genre and concluded, “I think there will always be a place for Daytime Drama. There is still a very strong, passionate fan base. People will always be hungry for great stories that are emotionally involving. Whether they watch our show on television, the computer or a smart phone ”“ I am hopeful they will continue to watch!”
A man who will go down in history with the likes of Irving Thalberg and Walt Disney. A giant in the industry, who’s well-earned reputation is of being a great guy. Mark’s greatest joys are his beautiful wife Lisa and their amazing and talented young daughter Amelia.
Photographs Courtesy: Mark Teschner by ABC, Ingo and Vanessa by Cathy Blaivas for ABC
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