From approaching football player-turned-actor Alex Karras for a job at age 10 in the suburbs of Detroit to moving to L.A. at the age of 20, Mandt has always been up for a challenge. “I didn’t know a single human being west of Chicago. I had a grand in my pocket that I had saved from a year’s worth of work. The first night, my car was broken into, and everything was stolen,” he recalls of his initial nights in Hollywood. Two decades later, Mandt owns a building on Santa Monica Boulevard just east of Orange, from which he has produced over 3,000 episodes of TV; won an Emmy for his coverage of the 2000 Summer Olympics; co-produced Million Dollar Arm, the Disney film starring Jon Hamm; and is currently shopping around a feature film starring Burt Reynolds and Ariel Winter.
As he tackles the world of VR, what differentiates him from the rest, he says, is his knack for a good narrative. “I’ve been up against a lot of tech guys, and I [have] an advantage—I’ve been telling stories in visual medium, and they haven’t,” he says. “On my tombstone, it won’t say producer, director or world traveler. It will say: ‘Storyteller.’ That’s what I am.”
Katana, loyalty, timelessness
Phoniness, flakiness, selfishness
Originally published in the March issue of Angeleno