This week HBO premieres McMillion$, a six-part documentary miniseries about a scam to steal $24 million from McDonalds' Monopoly game/promotion during the 1990s. The series introduces us the man who masterminded the scheme, as well as the law-enforcement officers who worked to take him down. And it all comes from executive producer Mark Wahlberg. Which may sound strange, as nothing about Wahlberg's persona as an actor or a celebrity would seem to suggest he'd be inclined to produce a documentary miniseries. Even if you knew about his producing ventures, it's most likely you'd have heard about Entourage, the most Wahlberg-esque TV show of them all, mostly because it was loosely based on his life in Hollywood.
But starting with Entourage in 2004, Wahlberg has had a hand in producing over 30 films and TV shows. As far as his television credits are concerned, many of them might take you by surprise:
The 2008 HBO series starring Gabriel Byrne as a therapist took a ton of chances when it came to formatting. It was a half-hour drama that aired five times a week, with each weekday episode focusing on a different patient, while the Friday episodes saw Byrne visit his own therapist (played by Dianne Wiest). The ratings were never great, but the show was an unapologetic actors' showcase, showing off the talents of Byrne, Wiest, Debra Winger, Hope Davis, Josh Charles, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan, and many more.
For five seasons, we followed the bloody, underhanded world of bootlegging via Atlantic City booze baron Nucky Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi at his darkest and most foreboding. Despite its pedigree, Boardwalk Empire never quite lived up to HBO's hopes that it could be the networks next Sopranos, but it was a respectable drama that won an Emmy award for Bobby Cannavale and provided a showcase for some great perforamces from Buscemi, Gretchen Mol, Jeffrey Wright and Dabney Coleman.
The actual experience of watching How to Make It in America was never as fun as talking about How to Make it in America. As the east coast Entourage, this is the other show that you might have been able to pick out as a Mark Wahlberg joint. Bryan Greenberg and Victor Rasuk starred as two best buds looking to attain the American Dream, which in this case involved designing the world's best fashion jeans and getting rich as hell. All under the auspices of the greatest theme song you could ever ask for.
Wahlberg's film projects tend to have a lot in common. They're usually about snipers or soldiers or something very gun-based (think Lone Survivor or Contraband). Shooter, based on the 2007 Antoine Fuqua film in which Wahlberg played expert marksman Bob Lee Swagger, fits neatly into his list of IMDb credits. The fact that the film became a series, with Ryan Phillippe in the starring role and Wahlberg producing, may surprise some fans. What makes this one unique isn't the subject matter, but the fact that the series didn't run on HBO like every other title on this list, airing instead on USA, where it flew under the radar for three seasons.
There's a swagger to Ballers that definitely feels familiar when thinking about Wahlberg's other ventures. It's just weird to think that any TV show where The Rock stars as an elite sports-management bigwig existed at all, let alone that it ran for five seasons!
As for McMillion$, the HBO docuseries is the first project to emerge from Wahlberg's recently formed nonscripted production comedy, Unrealistic Ideas. It premieres Monday February 3rd at 10:00 PM ET on HBO.
Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, The Herald Sun, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.