In reality, the frontyard of the house where I first lived as a child was not very big. The backyard was hardly any larger but when I had to cut the grass, it seemed humongous to me! When I drove through my old neighborhood the other day, in all actuality, the yard seemed tiny.
But it was large enough to serve as a place to hold my talk shows and other creative ventures as a boy. The tall, lanky pine trees provided the perfect backdrop for my outdoor set. I invited the multitude of neighborhood children to be in my audience. Mismatched lawn chairs of all shapes and sizes sat in makeshift rows to provide my guests a place to sit.
At that time, I never dreamed I would one day actually be on television or, for that matter, have any of my words published or paintings reproduced as prints. I went to art school in Atlanta, received my degree and, during the ’80s, made a living by selling my paintings. As time passed, I continued to be entertained with decorating, cooking and crafting. Then in fall 1995, after meeting with the executives at 13-WMAZ, I was asked to be a guest on their Saturday morning show to demonstrate how to create various projects and cook tasty treats.
One thing led to another and two minutes on live television turned into four and then eight. I LOVED my new calling, especially the kid in me who had practiced hard so many years before under the pines. Before I knew it, 11 years had passed along with countless projects and recipes. I filmed several lengthier specials and learned so much standing in front of a live television camera.
In 2007, I decided it was time to put my projects, recipes and humor into a 30-minute show. With the help of Cox Communications, we created “The Mark Ballard Show.” The first time I saw it come on, I couldn’t believe it! I could feel the little boy in me smile. For over a year, I produced show after show for Cox. During that period, I also enlisted the help of Georgia Public Television to film a holiday special that would be aired all over Georgia.
Because of the economy, things changed. My show with Cox stopped production and the additional shows ordered by GPTV were put on hold. For the first time in 13 years, I wasn’t on television. I continued to write my newspaper columns and also added an online show to www.macon.com. I wrote for the paper’s magazines, “Belle” and “Southern Style.” This year I have been working hand-in-hand with The Telegraph to produce “Southern Style with Mark Ballard,” a quarterly publication. We are currently working on our third edition and I have so enjoyed our partnership.
But even with all this, something was missing. Deep down inside of my very being, I had always dreamed of producing a show that could be seen nationwide.
So my wife and I formed Laughing Bees Production Company, hired a lawyer, enlisted the help of local television and movie production geniuses and a state-of-the-art film crew and gathered the monies of some true believers in me. We are charging straight forward like a bee martin to a gourd. To use Nike’s catch phrase, we’re going to “just do it!” During the week of Sept. 19-26, we will be filming a pilot and four episodes of my new adventure, titled “Mark Being Mark!” It will be filmed in various locations in and around Macon. If you see us out and about, I certainly hope you will be a part of this filming process.
The new show will feature all the things I’m known for — entertaining, cooking, decorating, crafting and gardening — and well, me being me! After we complete post-production on the five shows, we have an expert who will market the show to networks. This is the biggest gamble I have ever taken in my life. There are no guarantees. Yes, it is scary and very exciting all at the same time. I just hope people will find “Mark Being Mark!” entertaining, informative and fun.
MORE WITH MARK
Ÿ “One-Man Comedy Show with Mark Ballard,” Thursday, Sept. 24, Macon Little Theatre on Forsyth Road. Reception at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. No charge for tickets but reservations are required. Call 757-6877 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to make reservations. Show is being filmed for inclusion in “Mark Being Mark!”
Ÿ Check out Mark’s Web site, www.markballard.com, for current projects, recipes and lots of other fun stuff.
Ÿ Mark’s on www.macon.com 24 hours a day. with videos, columns and articles.
Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208 or fax them to (478) 474-4930 or call (478) 757-6877.