Mark Janicello's "The Finellis" Won't Let Your Hope Die
Very rarely do you write such a headline for a TV Series which has comedy as its central theme. But The Finellis, directed by Joris Hermans, written and produced by the
well-known American singer, Mark Janicello will compel you.
We wanted to understand more about this wonderful endeavor and contacted Mark Janicello for his inputs.
After Hour : Please tell us your thoughts on comedy as a genre and its effectiveness in giving out messages.
Mark : When I was a boy in the 1970s, I watched hours of television every day. I was a total television "addict." Back then, SitComs changed and were not only superficial and funny, but they also became "socially conscious." The great television producer Norman Lear pushed the SitCom format into new territory. His groundbreaking shows like "All in The Family," "Maude," "The Jeffersons," "Good Times," and "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" (among others) had a HUGE influence on my perception of what a TV Comedy can do. Norman Lear's SitComs showed audiences (and a very young Mark Janicello) that comedy could be a very, very effective means of talking about tough subjects such as racism, age discrimination, abortion, gay rights, drug addiction, or divorce -- and still make people laugh. However, Lear's genius was not only making his audience laugh (or cry) but making them think!!! He mixed comedy and drama into brilliant, 30-minute stories that were enlightening and educational without ever forgetting to be entertaining. Like Norman Lear (and God knows, I am not comparing myself to that genius), my goal with "The Finellis" is not specifically to make the audience laugh, or cry -- but to create characters that the audience can relate to. Through those characters, I try to present situations that try to touch both the hearts and minds of our audience -- and most importantly, to shake them out of their complacency and make them feel something!
After Hour : You are also a writer, producer other than being an actor. Which hat is the most satisfying to wear and why?
Mark : I love all kinds of creative endeavors. One discipline feeds the other. I cannot say which is the most satisfying, because they are all so different, but so intertwined.
For me, the act of creation, whether it's on stage, on screen, on a recording, or through painting is completely fulfilling. I love the idea of putting something there that wasn't there before. To ask me to choose one above the other is like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. You love them all equally, but differently.
After Hour : Please tell us a bit about yourself and your creative inspirations.
Mark : I was born in Brooklyn, New York and I've been on stage since I was 4 years old. In the intervening years, I have worked in 49 countries, and have lived, for extended periods of time in 10 different countries. Having traveled as extensively as I have, has been the greatest enrichment in my life (both personal and creative). I love languages and culture and history. All of that informs my work -- in every artistic discipline. I started out singing, and over the years have kept adding disciplines to my creative life. However, rather than bore everyone with a list of things, I think the easiest way is to for anyone who is interested to go to the "Work" page on my website. I'd rather let my work speak for me.
After Hour : What is your dream project?
Mark : "The Finellis" I am convinced that everything in my life and my entire 40+ year career was preparing me to write "The Finellis." The show is a very loosely-based, fictionalized version of my life story, Over the course of my life, I've had the most incredible highs, but also terrible, TERRIBLE lows. Through different situations that came up, I lost literally everything that a man holds dear: all my money, my career, my reputation, and worst of all, my family. Despite everything that happened to me, I am still alive when I had every reason not to be. The main message of "The Finellis" is that you never, ever give up on your dreams -- no matter what. Anything that is worth having, is worth fighting for. I know that besides entertaining everyone, "The Finellis" will bring hope to people all over the world. That's the reason I have fought so hard to bring this show to life. I lived through what should have killed me and that is why I am the only person who could have created this SitCom.
After Hour : What are the other projects you are working on?
Mark : We are currently in pre-production for a 60-minute animated children's musical called "Cloud 9," about a rectangular cloud that comes to earth and has amazing adventures with all the elements (Fire, Water, Wind, and Earth). It has great music by a very talented Swedish composer, Josef Törner and book and lyrics by yours truly. That's a show that's been in the works for a while. We hope to finally get "Cloud 9" off the ground in the very near future (no pun intended).
I'm also working on an album of new songs from "The Finellis" that will be released simultaneously with the SitCom. And, depending on what happens with Covid-19, I need to reschedule a number of concerts that got canceled in Asia and in Europe.