On his fifth birthday, MarVista Entertainment founder and executive VP George Port got a Roy Rogers costume, complete with a kid-sized Stetson and six guns. The cowboy bug never really left him, and now, several decades later, when he’s not pitching new production and distribution deals, you can find Port riding the range on his chestnut trail horse Tucker.
Although he’s had a life-long love of horseback riding, Port admits it became a bit of a fixation while he was working in London, England in 1998. Both he and his wife Harriet joined a riding club that went for weekend trots around the grounds outside Windsor Castle. From there, the pair found themselves planning vacations around riding opportunities – first Wales, then on to Tuscany, Portugal and Provence, France.
Port completely gave into his obsession just after he returned to the U.S. in 2000. He accompanied his brother-in-law on a riding trip to Boulder, Wyoming, which lies 95 miles south of Jackson Hole and has a population of 75. After his first ride up a mountain trail, starting at 7,000 feet above sea level and climbing up to 10,000 feet, he was hooked. ‘The contrast with the fast-paced entertainment business is enormous,’ says Port. ‘Once you get a half hour into the trail, you’ll never see another human being, and you see something different – be it a bear or an elk – every time.’
In fact, Port ended up buying five acres of land in Boulder so he could indulge his love of mountain riding whenever he had the opportunity, and had a log house built on the property in 2003.
Tucker and Sara (Harriet’s nine-year-old quarter horse) have taken the couple on many a ride, and Port says that while the element of unpredictability is one of the things that attracts him to this type of riding, he’s never felt threatened or been in real danger. Although his horse did have a bit of a scare when he met up with a pair of pack-llamas on the trail. Tucker bucked and snorted, tangling himself up in his reins, and Port had to cut him loose before he broke a leg. ‘It’s like horses and pigs,’ he explains. ‘They just don’t like each other.’
Right now, Port’s preparing to spend five months next summer at what he jokingly refers to as ‘the sponge’ (because it soaks up all his money), working and riding. He happily admits that he doesn’t have cable or watch TV while in Boulder, but says he’s going to have a hard time without high-speed Internet access. A satellite might do the trick, and he’s trying to get his neighbors to pitch in for a communal dish to create a local mini-network.
As for one-year-old MarVista, Port says the company’s busy exploring production opportunities in various live-action formats that step outside its animation roots, and Nickelodeon’s tween/teen platform The N has just prebought Boarding School, a co-pro between MarVista and That’s So Raven creator Brookwell McNamara.