TORONTO — Howie Mandel’s rise from Toronto carpet salesman to Hollywood personality is getting the documentary treatment.
Canadian filmmaker Barry Avrich says he’s begun work on a full-length project that’ll chart Mandel’s unlikely career trajectory, which spans movies, TV game shows and an animated series.
Avrich says he intends to follow Mandel for roughly a year as he performs stand-up shows, launches new projects and spends time with his family.
He’ll begin shooting “Howie’s World: The Howie Mandel Project,” as it’s tentatively titled, next month for a planned release in 2021.
The documentary is part of a three-film production deal between Avrich, Bell Media and Canada’s Walk of Fame, which focuses on non-fiction projects that celebrate successful Canadians in the arts.
“David Foster: Off the Record,” which had a limited run in theatres before it airs on CTV next month, was the first of the documentaries, while the third subject is undecided.
Avrich says he’s particularly interested in exploring how Mandel went from a Toronto salesman to performing at a Los Angeles comedy show on a dare from his friends. His appearance caught the attention of one network executive and led to him opening for David Letterman’s 1979 comedy tour. He was later cast in the network TV drama “St. Elsewhere” with hardly any acting experience.
Mandel went on to share his own personal stories on the Fox children’s animated series “Bobby’s World,” hosted the hit game show “Deal or No Deal” and frequently speaks about his obsessive-compulsive disorder and germ phobia.
“He’s so brilliant at reinventing himself and the common thread is always his love of people — and that’s the paradox,” Avrich says.
“Howie’s built this life for himself where he’s also a successful entrepreneur and real estate investor, there’s so many different sides.”
Avrich has worked with the comic on a number of other projects, including when he produced the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards, which Mandel hosted.
They also executive produced the 2017 documentary short “On My Way Out: The Secret life of Nani and Popi,” about two Holocaust survivors whose marriage faces an unexpected hurdle when the husband reveals to his wife that he’s gay.