December 27, 1945
Washington, Washington D.C., United States
Producer, Assistant director, Production assistant
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Although executive producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber grabbed an Oscar the night "Rain Man" (1988) won Best Picture honors and posed for a widely-circulated picture, the real winner of the statuette was the film's producer Mark Johnson, longtime collaborator of its director Barry Levinson. The pair met on the set of the Mel Brooks comedy "High Anxiety" (1977) where Levinson was the screenwriter and Johnson an assistant director, and their partnership began in earnest when Johnson executive produced Levinson's acclaimed directorial debut, "Diner" (1982). After that, he served as producer on all 10 of Levinson's movies through "Jimmy Hollywood" (1994), as well as co-executive producing the short-lived ABC comedy series "Harry" (1987). Although the self-effacing Johnson does not attribute any of the artistic achievement of these films (including "The Natural" 1984, "Tin Men" 1987, "Avalon" 1990, and "Bugsy" 1991) to his efforts, he clearly showed a sensitive and supportive talent for opening creative spaces for Levinson, his actors and crew.Johnson and Levinson were all set to make "Donnie Brasco" (1997) with Al Pacino and Tom Cruise when "GoodFellas" (1990) came out and "no one wanted to compete with Martin Scorsese," so they shelved the movie indefinitely, eventually casting Johnny Depp opposite Pacino. Away from Levinson, Johnson produced Clint Eastwood's "A Perfect World" (1993) and Alfonso Cuaron's remake of "The Little Princess" (1995), the third film adapted from Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel "Sarah Crewe." Don Parisot's "Home Fries" (1998), starring Drew Barrymore, reteamed him with Levinson (and Lawrence Kasdan and Charles Newirth) as producers, and he executive produced Rand Ravich's "The Astronaut's Wife" (1999). Among the numerous projects Johnson has in various stages of development are the TV pilot "Falcone," based on the same material that was the basis for "Donnie Brasco," and a screen version of Nicholas Sparks' best-seller "The Notebook" (lensed 1999).