A Secane Native Makes Good At The Grammy Ceremonies

Posted: March 10, 1988

What started as a way to provide entertainment for his children has led to a Grammy award for Mark Sottnick.

Sottnick, 42, who grew up in Secane, won a Grammy award last week for The Elephant's Child, selected as the best children's recording of 1987.

"I was teaching at a middle school in Rhode Island, and there was really nothing to play for them (his students) on the VCR, so I started to make videos and then became interested in film," Sottnick said in a telephone interview from his home in Westport, Conn., last week.

That led Sottnick in 1981 to give up his teaching job and form a children's record and video production company, Rabbit Ears.

"I picked all classic stories, and I picked the ones that I liked and that the kids, who are now 17 and 20, liked best," said Sottnick, who had studied filmmaking at Yale University after graduating from Our Lady of Fatima Elementary School and St. Joseph's Prep.

In 1984, he received a grant to produce a record and a video of The

Velveteen Rabbit. Through mutual friends and contacts with agents, Sottnick was able to persuade actress Meryl Streep and musician George Winston to do the voices. The success of the project led to a 1984 Grammy nomination.

Since then, he has produced several additional children's records and videos including The Elephant's Child, narrated by Jack Nicholson. "The Elephant's Child," a story in a series written by Rudyard Kipling, is a tale about how the elephant got its trunk.

Others Sottnick works, in various stages of production, are The Tailor of Gloucester, narrated by Streep; Pecos Bill, narrated by Robin Williams, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Emperor and the Nightingale, narrated by Glenn Close. The Emperor and the Nightingale was also nominated for a Grammy this year.

The records are LPs, and the videos are half-hour tapes. The videos, which are available in stores, have run twice on Showtime and will be repeated on the cable channel in the spring. Sottnick also produced Santa Bear's Highflying Adventure for CBS and a Santa Bear record, book, cassette and video

marketed through B. Dalton Bookseller.

Sottnick said that he enjoyed being part of the audience attending the Grammy awards. Winning, he said, was just a part of the night's excitement.

"Truthfully, being nominated is really nice," he said. "It doesn't matter if you win or not. I don't think we are better than any of the other nominations. I think at some point it is a judgment between apples and oranges. I do think that children's video gives people a choice rather than accept what is available on Saturday morning" television cartoon shows.

Looking ahead, Sottnick said his company, which has several employees, is planning larger projects and a children's movie, but he is modest about his

plans.

"We are close to an agreement on a film project, but I really don't want to comment on that right now," Sottnick said. "I leave the publicity to my agent and my mom (Florence Sottnick of Secane), one of my biggest fans."

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