Michael's Reward
Mario Bernheim

Mario Bernheim began his professional career as an assistant to film director Joel Schumacher at Universal Studios. He worked for Joel in various capacities for several years before moving to New York City. While in New York he became involved with the Story Development Departments of CBS, Fox and MGM as a story analyst. He came back to both California and Universal Studios, where he continued his career as Director of Development for producer Topper Carew.

Working with his friend Bob Zmuda, he became a founding staff member of Comic Relief for HBO hosted by Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams. Over the course of twelve years with the organization, he rose in ranks to Co-Producer for many specials including; “Comic Relief at Radio City Music Hall”, “Hurricane Relief” for Showtime Networks, “A Comedy Salute to Michael Jordan” for NBC and many other specials on HBO, ABC, Fox and Comedy Central. As Co-Producer he was involved with a gamut of responsibilities that ranged from the creative development of various productions to administering over $50 Million dollars in donations garnered to help the homeless and create programs to assist those in need.

Since Comic Relief, Mario has been in active development with projects for such companies as Icon Entertainment, The Pitt Group and as Director of Development for Hit Entertainment.

Mario is considered by many writers, story consultants and producers to excel in developing screenplays as he has a strong intuition for story development. Recently, Mario has been a featured guest on various panels at screenwriting expos and seminars in aiding up-and-coming screenwriters in elevating their screenwriting techniques.

He’s completed two feature screenplays and various television pilot scripts in addition to finishing his first novel Michael’s Reward, based on one of his own screenplays.

An avid traveler with an interest in cross-cultural similarities, Mario has visited twenty-two countries on multiple continents. He currently lives in Southern California with his wife Michelle.

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A Message from the Author

There are many lessons in life. One lesson I am continuously learning is God's magical ability to turn disaster into a beautiful and wonderful thing. I won't claim that all situations turn out peacefully (they won't), but consider the wisdom expressed in character as a lesson well learned.

When we fall into a well of disaster, and look up from the bottom of this well, the light from where we fell can seem very distant and impossible to reach. But what we have on our side are the many knowable tools that can help us climb the walls back to that light of our happiness and peace of mind.

And these wells we fall into, now and again, might have been caused by ourselves, by friends, by family, by strangers, by co-workers or even by nature. But one thing is for certain, most were made by a series of small bad decisions. With few exceptions, most disasters are a compilation of things gone wrong one small step at a time. But whether it's a catastrophe caused by a series of small bad decisions by numerous people (as in the case of the attack on Pearl Harbor), or a personal tragedy brought on by a sequence of small bad decisions by just one person; national disasters and personal mayhem can surely arrive on schedule and yet, completely unexpected. Whether personal, or mammoth, it seems that it only takes just one small right decision to save the day.

When I was coming of age, there were times when I would find myself alone on special days. Such as the day I turned 14 when I lived on Treasure Island in the middle of the San Francisco bay. I literally rode my bike to, “sitting on the dock of the bay, watching the tide roll in”. It was in those times of aloneness when I would think so loud about my future and my dreams that I was certain God could hear me. And of course, He did.

So, I found my dream unfolding into reality the day I walked right through the truck gate and into Universal Studios. I meandered for about a half hour before I overheard 2 guys talking about a rehearsal in Stage 18. So, I walked into the soundstage and found a crew gearing up for a TV movie. I introduced myself to people, asked questions and started answering the phone and taking messages. I came back the next morning and continued doing the same thing. Later that afternoon I was hired and the following morning I was sitting in a production meeting in the production building. With absolutely no contacts in the industry, my entry had to be bold and unashamed. So, I was both. My years at Universal working for director, Joel Schumacher (who was great to take a chance with a 21 year old kid who walked in off Lankershim Boulevard) taught me the film process from concept to release. Of course, in between working hard, we laughed hard.

These years were followed by a brief but enlightening year in New York City, where I quickly learned how to read a book a day and then write a synopsis. It was a perfect way to spend winter; home, drinking tea, reading and getting paid for it. But I missed the atmosphere of a studio lot and never felt in my heart that I was meant to put down roots in the City. So I returned to Universal developing projects for executive producer, Topper Carew.

It was at the end of this season that my friend Bob Zmuda came up with the idea of Comic Relief. In the coming years at HBO’s offices; through the trials of building a charity and pulling off live events, our team learned how to turn negatives into positives. And show after show, city after city, we worked our asses off in the hopes that we could turn crisis into much needed humanitarian funds that we delivered to dozens of homeless shelters around the country, year after year.

Universally, the faces of those in need come in every shape and size; they come in every color and some even come without teeth. But one thing they all have is that behind that face is a heart that burns by the power of the light of God. And I believe that the light that burns in our hearts also burns at the center of the sun.

I took this core belief that happiness can only be found in God. It cannot be found in the outer world nor in the rewards of your labor. I was able to give Michael this core belief and watched faith get him through it.

Sometimes, we find that we have to slow down to alter course. That we have to shake up the status quo in the board rooms of our minds to rethink our priorities and our values. And this is what God did to Michael. God had to break down all the peripheral world Michael liked so much, to make certain he was ready for the next phase of his spiritual and material development. Through it Satan seems to play a big role. But in the end, Satan's role was nothing more than part of God's plan for Michaels' soul journey back to Him. This is how God wins, every time.