Looking up from his desk, Paramount Executive Vice President Mark Dvornik says, in all sincerity, "Being in this business is like having a dream and never waking up. I love it."
He proudly shows off the window in his office that, in reality, overlooks a parking lot and the Paramount water tower, but he's so excited to see even a part of the historic studio that, when he redecorated, he didn't even put blinds up on that wall of windows.
Adorning the wall facing his desk, the founding fathers of Paramount stand watch, in a photo Dvornik had Para-mount's archivists dig up for him. "I think I was destined to work for Paramount, but I wanted to be in the studio system."
He appears equally passionate about his job, in which he heads a 23-person sales force that sells shows to TV stations. Next to his desk is a bell that he rings every time a deal is done, and, with 55,000 hours of programming to sell, that's fairly often.
"Nobody's heart is more shaped like the Paramount mountain, nor do anyone's veins bleed more Paramount blue, than Mark Dvornik's," says Paramount Domestic Television President John Nogawski.
Says Paramount Worldwide Television Distribution President Joel Berman: "Mark has proven himself to be a strong leader. He is focused on the multiple tasks at hand and is always coming up with creative ways to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way."
Dvornik started working for Paramount when he was 23 years old and fresh out of college. In the past 17 years, he has worked for the studio all over the country until he finally ended up on the lot where he always wanted to be. Although he travels less than he once did, he's on the road every week and still enjoys it.
"If you are in syndication, you might as well have a driver's license that says Anywhere, USA," Dvornik says. As the son of a Naval officer, he is no stranger to moving and says he feels at home everywhere. These days, he's more settled in Los Angeles with his wife, Kemberley, and sons, Nicholas and Michael, but he's still off seeing clients about 10 days a month.
In first-run programming, Dvornik has primary responsibility for selling Entertainment Tonight, Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, The Montel Williams Show
and Life Moments; in off-net, he has Charmed, Cheers,
and the many other shows in Paramount's archive.
"Growing up, I was always selling," he says. "It was in my blood from the time I was very young." When he was a teenager, he sold suits at Brooks Brothers at Tyson's Corner in McLean, Va.
"The best sale I ever made was selling my parents on the idea that I could have a television in my room," he says. "I consumed mass quantities of television, and it was then I knew I wanted to be in this business."
That passion ran in the family: His dad's nickname was "Showbiz" because he loved films so much. Once Dvornik exhibited his own, similar passion, friends and family began calling him "Son of Showbiz."
And Dvornik isn't intense only about his day job. In the past year, he has returned to a high school pursuit—track and field—and, joining the Southern California master's track club, begun competing in shot put and discus just like he did when he was Hawaii's high school state champion. He won the Heyward Classic in Oregon and the Western regionals in Mission Viejo, Calif., and, last August, ended up fifth and ninth in the nation in discus and shot put, respectively.
Looking at a framed poster of Cecil B. DeMille's classic movie, The Greatest Show on Earth, he says: "I feel like I've really walked around in the shoes of a lot of people, and I truly believe the television business is the greatest show on earth."
Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.
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