“My two jobs are fun,” says Roger Mitchell. Roger is franchisee of the Mandeville location of VooDoo BBQ & Grill. “The restaurant is something different every day. There’re always different guests to talk to, sometimes there are issues, sometimes it’s employees acting up and sometimes it’s just a bunch of fun.” His other fun job is creating and producing television shows. “That’s the best thing—seeing it go from an idea in your head, through the whole process, seeing it air on TV and having your name at the end.”
That he has these two fun jobs is a combination of fate and hard work. He would often meet his cousin, Anthony Gangi (now his business partner), at the St. Charles Avenue VooDoo, and during those lunches, they bounced ideas off each other for TV shows and how to get those ideas onto the screen. Roger was also thinking VooDoo would be a perfect match for the northshore. One day, “There was a little table-tent that said, ‘Now franchising in Mandeville,’ and I said, ‘That’s got to be a sign.’ So I called, and six months after that, I was building my own place.”
The first TV idea they developed and pitched for their production company, AMG Entertainment, was a show called Emancipated, a docu-series following troubled teens who become emancipated from their parents and try to make it on their own. It was picked up and aired on Country Music Television, the CMT network.
“We were calling agents, calling networks—ABC, NBC, FOX—everybody—trying to crack into the business. It’s impossible. It’s probably the hardest thing I ever did,” Roger says. “Finally, we called a company here locally, Horizon Entertainment, which is owned by Tom Benson, and we pitched them an idea. They liked it and pitched it out to their contacts, and CMT picked it up and aired the first episode nationally December 17.”
They are now waiting to hear about the future of Emancipated—he says they are in serious negotiations with a major network—and have unleashed a flood of ideas on production companies, TV networks and agents. “I always said, once we crack that door, we’re going to push it open. We have a show on national TV, and that’s all you need in this business—street cred. The first thing they ask when you call is, ‘What have you done?’”
Roger says people are finding out what he’s doing. “I’ve got people bringing concepts to the restaurant now. That’s fine by me; I enjoy that and hope I never lose that inspiration, because that’s where it got me. We were those guys that were driven, that never gave up, that didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I can appreciate the people who have a dream and an idea and want to get it on TV.”Filed under: Another Side Of, Culinary Arts, Food and Drink, May-June 2011, Northshore Notables