Riddle me this, Batman: Who has the coolest job title in Atlantic City?
It says here that it belongs to Mitch Gorshin, whose business card identifies him as "Executive Director Fun & Creative" for Revel.
In that capacity Gorshin, 47, the son of the late actor-impressionist Frank Gorhsin (best-known as The Riddler on the 1960s "Batman" series), is essentially in charge of conjuring entertainment and marketing ideas designed to keep Revel on the cutting edge of the hospitality industry. So far, his boldest and most prominent concept is "The Ball," the 90,000-pound, illuminated orb that rests atop Revel's 47-story hotel tower (more on that later).
Gorshin, a Southern California native who lives in Haddonfield with his wife, Maria, and son, Brandon, 13, came to Revel from the Disney organization, where he spent some 14 years as a production director at Disney World, primarily dealing with the marketing of the complex's hotels. Because his background was in filmmaking, he was also involved in the production of numerous "making of" pieces at the resort—a result of his somewhat glamorous childhood.
"Dad used to take me to different [TV and film] shoots," he offered. "I was totally immersed in what was going on behind the camera—how they were directed, special effects…that's where my passion was."
But shadows on a screen ultimately proved less fulfilling to him than real life.
"Movies are great, but I like when people walk into an environment and come out the other side and they're moved in one way or another," he said. "I'm more interested in sights and sounds and smells."
The chance to work in such a realm was what piqued his interest when he was contacted in 2010 by Sid Yu, Revel's senior VP for brand and revenue. At first, Gorshin was hired by the mega-resort as an independent contractor. That ultimately led to his full-time gig through which he is involved in brainstorming for a variety of areas including interior design, entertainment programming, marketing and promotion.
According to Gorshin, it wasn't just the Revel project that attracted him, but the opportunity to work with Yu, who had carved out a sterling reputation as a hospitality industry marketing exec. "I like the way he approaches things," Gorshin said of Yu. "He's a very smart guy, and he's willing to listen to ideas that are out there."
Which brings us to "The Ball."
One day, recalled Gorshin, Yu said to him, "We have to put something on the building, but I just don't want to put our name on it." That started the wheels turning for Gorshin, but inspiration did not immediately show itself. Then fate—in the form of a pizza lunch—intervened and Gorshin arrived at his "Eureka!" moment.
"I got a slice of pizza at Tony Baloney's and walked back to our Atlantic Avenue office," he said. "I just kept looking at the slope of (Revel's roof). To me, that was the unique feature.
"Without thinking, I had rolled the foil (in which the pizza was wrapped) into a ball. Then I held it at arm's length (towards the building). It created a visual tension where the ball seemingly wants to roll down."
The shape was also crucial, added Gorshin, because a ball "is a symbol, whether you're a child or an older person. It conjures images of play and fun. It brings extreme pleasure."
In daylight, the orb appears to be a giant golf ball as it is made up of almost 1,000 triangular panels as in a geodesic dome. It is 40 feet in diameter and contains a quarter-million LED lights that can be programmed from an iPad or smart phone. It is said to be visible from 10 miles on land and 200 miles from sea. Gorshin's first impulse was to put light onto the ball from an external source. But then he realized the way to go was to have the globe be self-illuminating. He said it will ultimately boast "hundreds" of different design permutations.
As for life with his iconic dad—who died in 2005 and whose credits also include the classic 1960 "spring break" flick, "Where the Boys Are" and guest spots on such TV series as "The Munsters," "The Untouchables" and "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour-- Gorshin has nothing but fond memories.
He reminisced how he and his sister would do their best to make their dad laugh, because the maniacal cackling he brought to the role of The Riddler was not just an actor's artifice.
"That's his natural laugh," said Gorshin. "We'd sit there and say, 'Here comes The Riddler laugh!'"