Mark Gordon will need to brush off mantel space for his latest kudo, the 2015 Norman Lear Achievement Award from the Producers Guild of America. The honor, named for the pioneer behind “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” will be handed out at the 26th annual Producers Guild of America Awards held on Jan. 24 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. Past recipients of the prestigious award include Chuck Lorre, J.J. Abrams, Dick Wolf, Jerry Bruckheimer, John Wells, Lorne Michaels, Aaron Spelling, David E. Kelley and, yes, Lear.
Gordon, the producer behind mega-hit series such as “Criminal Minds,” “Ray Donovan,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and telepic “Warm Springs,” which earned him an Emmy, and “Saving Private Ryan,” for which he won an Oscar and a Golden Globe, is also president emeritus and former prexy of the Producers Guild.
He says he strives to embody Lear’s spirit in his own work.
“Norman broke rules,” says Gordon. “Norman took risks. And when Norman was making his television shows, the world was a different place than it is now. I’m not suggesting that my television shows are groundbreakingly important as far as social messaging, but we try to do our part within the context of the shows that we make.”
To wit, Gordon, a champion of public education who works closely with the Clinton Foundation and Teach for America, will include a storyline in the upcoming season of “Criminal Minds” that focuses on the importance of early childhood reading. Gordon is also an advocate for young creatives coming up in the business, prompting him to co-found Career Sushi, a website that helps aspiring industry professional find entry-level jobs or internships in the entertainment business. Since its inception, the service has developed relationships with more than 12,000 companies and is used by more than 150,000 people.
“Rarely do we come across an entertainment powerhouse who not only raises the bar for the standard of television, but changes the landscape of the industry altogether,” Ryan Murphy and Todd Black, co-chairs of the Producers Guild Awards, told Variety. “Mark Gordon is that powerhouse. Through Mark’s abiding passion for storytelling and his profound impact on contemporary television, he truly lives up to this award’s namesake.”
So devoted is Gordon to making sure that the writing the series he produces is top notch, he showers his writing staff with support, doing whatever he can to provide his team with whatever it needs.
Says Gordon, “As a non-writing producer, the best thing that I can do is support the creators and the creative talent who have a strong story to tell and help them bring it to the screen in its best form.”