Hollywood comes home to Castleton


Mark Noble, Access Hollywood’s senior field producer and Castleton State College alumnus, recently stepped off the red carpet and returned to his alma mater for a talk titled “From the Green Mountains to the Red Carpet.”

The 1989 graduate spent the day interacting with students from former classmate and current professor David Blow’s communication classes and exploring the vastly transformed campus before finally taking the stage in Casella Theater.

“To be back is just mind-blowing,” Noble said. “This place is on fire.”

Noble took to the stage with Blow on April 3 for essentially a casual conversation between former classmates. Dressed in an electric green button down shirt, striped jacket, bright orange pants, and a glimpse of teal dress socks to boot, Noble dazzled the current Spartans with his Hollywood stories including touring seven countries in seven days with pop star, Rihanna for her Triple Seven Tour.

“It was the most amazing experience of my life,” he said.

He told of their encounter with angry bloggers during the tour, including one Australian fan who went streaking through the plane.

“A skinny Carrot Top is the best description of this guy. Those crazy Ausies,” he said with a laugh.

Noble even spilled on his worst moments in front of the camera, like his case of mistaken identity between up and coming stars India.Arie and Erykah Badu.

“Open mouth, insert foot, chew vigorously,” he said of his goof asking one a question that was intended for the other.

And then there was his most mortifying moment, when scandalous movie star Russell Brand took his cell phone and called his parents during an interview last June at an FX premiere event.

“I just wanted to say that Mark is doing a wonderful job here. You’ve raised a fine – if a little overly erotic son,” the prank-ridden Brit said into the phone. “You’ve raised a fine young man, sir. Now I need to talk to your wife.”

He went on with stories from Oscar night he was saved from security by Elton John, his interview with Oprah following her Essence Award Nomination, Jay-Z’s always dress to impress style vs. wife Beyonce’s “home girl” vibe, the scandals of Taylor Swift’s love life, and the complexity of covering the death of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson in the same day.

However, his most influential tale proved to be his own of his journey out of the Bronx into the Green Mountains and finally landing on the red carpet. His path gave hope to current students.

“I think the best thing about him being here is that he’s successful,” said Castleton junior Max Walker. “Sometimes there’s this stigma that coming from here you can’t make it big.”

Walker’s fellow classmate, Julianna Combs, agreed that it was powerful to see the potential that the Castleton green can hold.

“It was a very inspiring experience,” she said. “It’s nice to know that even though you come from little Castleton State College you can still make it big places.”

Noble found himself at Castleton on a complete whim. After seeing the opening scene from The Bob Newhart Show he was completely awe-struck by the Vermont foliage so he cracked open a book of Vermont colleges, closed his eyes, and dropped his pointer finger.

“I knew I wanted to go to a school that was journalism and communication,” he said. “I wanted to tell stories and my parents wouldn’t let me tell stories in the theater.”

The first drop of his finger didn’t meet these requirements, but on the second try he landed on Castleton. He never stepped foot on campus before making the decision to attend the school. After taking advice from a friend who had visited, calling the campus dorms a few times, and reading the course catalog, Noble packed his bags and headed north.

“This place spoke to me,” he said. “Sometimes you have to step out on your own fate.”

Needless to say, a kid from the Bronx experiences a degree of culture shock when first breathing Green Mountain air. Noble said he was used to being a minority because of the high school he attended, however he wasn’t prepared for all the ways he would stick out to his classmates in those first few weeks.

An “ambush” in New York City just before coming to college left the young Noble with his jaw wired shut and unable to eat normally.

“I became known as the kid who’s a slurper,” he said with a chuckle. “That was a story.”

Noble recalled using his hunger pains to write one of his first assignments, a descriptive essay about a lobster pizza.

“God, that descriptive pizza,” he said.

Courses with communication professors Bob Gershon and Roy Vestrich stuck out most in his memory, he said.

He referred to Gershon as his “primary shepherd” and attributed much of his success to the hands-on technical experiences he had from day one.

“The fact that you could do that as a freshman at that time was unheard of,” Noble said. “Yeah book smarts are great, but give me the camera.”

Gershon recalled his time spent with Noble quite fondly and said he had the initiative from the very beginning.

“He had the talent to match his intelligence, a seriousness of purpose and a willingness to work,” he said.

According to Vestrich, Noble was bound for the red carpet.

“I think he had the Hollywood bug,” said Vestrich. “He was going to make it happen, and you knew it was going to happen.”

Outside the classroom, Noble was a man about campus. He participated in theater productions, took an active role in student government, and was a member of the Student Orientation Staff. He said his most valuable experiences while at Castleton he gained through his internships.

In his junior year he interned at WABC and about half way through the internship a staff member quit. Noble was chosen to fill this paid position for the remaining month of the internship.

Following graduation, Noble spent one month working at Saks 5th Avenue before receiving a phone call from WABC offering him a fulltime position.

He moved around to various networks on the east coast before the snowstorm of 1994 sent him searching for warmer temperatures. His connections from his time spend with Channel 7 news landed him a position with Extra! in California. After a few years in Hollywood Noble stepped onto the Access Hollywood scene and never left.

Looking back, Noble attributed much of his success to the skills and diversity that Castleton provided him with.

“This place, this state, it’s a jewel,” he said. “It stands out because it’s different.”

Under what he calls the “Umbrella of Access Hollywood,” Noble can be found with a microphone in his hand or behind the camera on any given day. But he says no matter what side he’s on he’s surrounded by a staff he considers family and in ten years he expects to be in the same place.

“It’s a beat that I love,” he said.

When asked by an audience member about the state of journalism, Noble said journalism isn’t a dying art, but rather experiencing an evolution. He encouraged Castleton’s communication students to familiarize themselves with every aspect of media to become pop culture fed and ready for any job right out of the chute.

“Once you get to the big time you’ve only got one shot, because there’s always someone on your heels” he said.

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