- Presented by DEFINITION 6

Anthony J. Cortese of DEFINITION 6 on 30 Years of Storytelling

Plus his love for The Godfather (I and II) and the future of entertainment marketing

A 13-time Emmy winner, Anthony J. Cortese, VP of editorial at DEFINITION 6, has more than 30 years of experience telling stories as an editor, producer and director. He's also been honored with a Grand Clio and Cannes Silver Lion for his work in television.

His career has led him to work with talent like John Malkovich, John Goodman, Ving Rhames, Ron Howard, and most recently, Tom Cruise, for last year's AFC Championship Tease on CBS, "The Time is Now," a tie-in with the release of Top Gun: Maverick.

From Super Bowl campaigns to critically-acclaimed documentaries A Game of Honor, Something in the Water, LT: The Life & Times, and The Only, his work for clients like CBS Sports, Paramount+, HBO, USA Network, Showtime, Nickelodeon, Facebook Watch and MTV is featured during some of the most-watched global events.

We spoke with Anthony for our Backstory series, where we chat with folks in the entertainment industry about their creative inspirations and more.

Anthony, tell us ...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I've only called two places home my entire life. I grew up in Franklin Square, New York, (just over the Queens border on Long Island) where I lived for the first half of my life and my parents still live. And then, I crossed the river to Garwood, New Jersey, where I now live with my wife Maria, our daughter Isabel, and our sweet dog T-Bone.

Your first job in the industry.

I had jobs editing wedding and industrial videos all throughout my college years at NYU, but I always considered my first REAL job in the industry to be when I was hired as an in-house editor for DMB&B in NYC. I learned so much about my craft and what it takes to do this job creatively and technically in those years.

A breakthrough moment in your career.

I was introduced to Pete Radovich of CBS Sports in 2008 and filled in as an editor on a project with a tight deadline. The piece was about UNC student Jason Ray, who portrayed the school's mascot. He was tragically killed by a car during the 2007 Tournament, and we told his life story. The piece ended up winning an Emmy and Pete hasn't stopped working with me since.

Three movies you couldn't do without.

Stripes is at the top of the list. Bill Murray is my guy. But you also have John Candy and Harold Ramis thrown in there. What can I say? Everything about that movie just cracks me up and informs my sense of humor. It's also an infinitely quotable movie.

The Godfather (Parts I and II). I mean… if there is more of a one-two punch in cinema and storytelling, I've not seen it. Plus, I see so much of my big Italian family in the tiny details of these films. Except for organized crime. Obviously. I think.

Cast Away. So much of the beauty of this film for me lives in the silence and the spaces in between where things happen. It is a masterclass in "show, don't tell."

Your favorite movie quote.

"I can handle things, I'm smart! Not like everybody says… like… dumb… I'm smart, and I want respect!"—Fredo Corleone, The Godfather, Part II.

I quote this at least once a week. I even have it clipped off as a file on my phone to send to people via text. It works as a joke, but on its own, it comes from a seriously powerful scene by John Cazale, who left us way too soon. The guy is a legend.

Your favorite movie trailer or poster.

The trailer for Fincher's The Social Network is just downright haunting. I have always loved it. It not only nails the movie's whole vibe but also, on a much larger scale, a looming global epidemic in just over two minutes.

A classic TV show and a recent TV show that you loved.

I don't tend to repeat view much TV, and I don't think it's old enough to be considered a classic, but a show that I would sit down again and again for is Breaking Bad. That's about as perfect a show as there ever was or ever will be.

Recently, my wife and I devoured The Bear on Hulu. Holy cow, I'm not sure much out there can even hold a candle to the character studies, honesty and storytelling. Just brilliant, from start to finish.

A recent project you're proud of.

Last spring, I had the opportunity to direct and edit a documentary about the life of Briana Scurry, the goalkeeper for the 1999 Women's World Cup team called The Only for Paramount+. She and her USWNT teammates were just honored with the Arthur Ashe Award at the ESPYs and for good reason. Briana is such an amazing, strong, and genuinely kind person, and it was a huge honor and challenge to get it right. I think we did.

Someone else's project that you admired recently.

The main title sequence to the Apple TV+ series Silo is fantastic. It was created by Patrick Clair of Antibody and draws you into the world much in the same way that the Game of Thrones opening did, setting up the stakes and giving you a lay of the land at the start of each episode. To be honest, I usually hit "skip" milliseconds after the button pops up on my screen, but I let this open play every time because it is like opening a door and stepping in.

One thing about how entertainment marketing is evolving that you're excited about.

With the explosion of content out there, it seems like we have stepped back into a bygone era of product placement sometimes. I think this trend may be offensive to entertainment purists, but personally, I am all about it if it can be accomplished tastefully. I have read so many articles about how the glorious scripted TV boom we have all enjoyed over the last few years is about to come crashing down under its own weight and the writers' and actors' strikes are only exacerbating the issue. I believe that the only way forward is to look back at what has worked for years. Whether that is through a la carte pricing rather than the subscription model, or more likely, through traditional commercial breaks or organic product placement, or even some combination of all three, remains to be seen.

What would you be doing if you weren't in entertainment marketing.

I've always fantasized about owning a pie shop. But I also think I'd make a pretty good bartender.

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