After spending much of his life in show business — including writing for “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” — Howard Beach resident Barry Mitchell is used to the limelight.
A stand-up comedian who is frequently told he resembles Woody Allen, Mitchell, 58, has worked in radio and television and interviewed such celebrities as Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks and James Brown as a reporter for ABC. He has written monologue material for Leno, has appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and is now a producer and reporter for CUNY-TV.
Mitchell’s resume seemed not to need any more accolades — but it has gotten one.
A television announcement he made urging people to get the H1N1, otherwise known as swine flu, vaccine has been nominated for an Emmy. On April 3 Mitchell will be at the 54th Annual National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences New York Emmy Awards Gala at the Marriott Marquee in Times Square hoping he will be awarded the coveted statuette for his 60-second public service announcement.
Mitchell said he was thrilled to be nominated for an Emmy “because it means my peers in the industry think something that I did is possibly worthy of an award.”
“That means something to me,” Mitchell added.
The academy on Feb. 17 nominated the production for the Single Public Service Announcement category. Mitchell was also nominated for an Emmy in 2007 for a music video he made.
The Emmy ceremony is expected to be attended by 800 television and media professionals including many familiar faces from news, entertainment, sports and advertising agencies.
According to a statement issued by NATAS, the organization said the awards recognize outstanding achievement, encourage the pursuit of excellence and promote the highest standards of quality in the arts, crafts and sciences of television by conferring the industry's classic and most coveted peer-recognition symbol of distinction, the Emmy.
Born in Brooklyn, Mitchell has lived in Howard Beach since 1969. He attended Queens College where he majored in English and journalism.
He began his life in show business as an accordionist with wedding bands in the mid-1970’s. In 1977 he began doing stand-up comedy with his accordion at The Improv and Catch A Rising Star comedy clubs.
When some of the audience members told him he looked like Woody Allen, Mitchell said, “I put on horned rimmed glasses and purchased an army jacket, corduroy pants and a checkered shirt,” and his Woody Allen impression took off.
Mitchell said that, in fact, he stood in for Allen on two occasions and appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.”
Mitchell has also worked for Long Island radio station WHLI-AM and WNBC in New York as a news writer.
He has written monologue material for Wayne Cotter of Fox’s “Comic Strip Live” and was part of the writing team for ABC-TV’s “That Was The Week That Was”.
In 1992 Mitchell began working as a roving feature reporter for ABC-TV’s overnight “World News Now,” for which he interviewd Reiner, Brooks and Brown and scoured the country for oddball stories and personalities. He also wrote “World News Now’s” signature closing theme, the “World News Polka”.
In 1998 Barry Mitchell added backup singers, Cathy Craig, Lynn Pinto and Mary Phillips, “The Mitchellettes,” to his ABC-TV appearances.
Since May, 2005, Mitchell has worked as a producer and reporter for CUNY-TV, Channel 75, the public affairs cable channel of the City University of New York, where he produced the public service announcement for which he was nominated.
Mitchell’s 60-second humorous announcement, which he also starred in, gives suggestions on how to prevent getting the flu,
Mitchell said that he and CUNY-TV staffers believed there was a need for the public service announcement since the swine flu was on everyone’s mind last year and there was confusion among the public as to what was the H1N1 virus, how dangerous is it, which flu shot should they take and where should they go to get the flu shot.
Mitchell said there was also talk of a major swine flu epidemic, which did not occur.
His Emmy nominated public service announcement can be found at youtube.com/watch?v=aeFTrLG0p9o&feature=player_embedded.
Mitchell’s website is barryfunny.com.