UPDATED: Michael Stevens, Emmy-winning writer and producer of the annual Kennedy Center Honors and the son and grandson of Hollywood filmmakers George Stevens and George Stevens Jr. has died, the Directors Guild announced today. Stevens died Thursday during treatment for cancer at UCLA Medical Center, his family said in a statement. He was 48.
Stevens received seven Emmy Awards, two Writers Guild nominations, a Directors Guild nomination and an NAACP Award for directing during a 25-year entertainment industry career.
Born in Washington, DC. to filmmaker George Stevens Jr and his wife Elizabeth, Michael Stevens moved to Hollywood after attending Duke University and working at the International Herald Tribune. In Hollywood, he worked frequently with his father, producing together the AFI Life Achievement Award television specials honoring Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese. Stevens went on to become an associate producer on The Thin Red Line, which received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. He then segued to independent film, directing and producing Bad City Blues, starring Dennis Hopper and Sin, starring Garry Oldman, Ving Rhames and Kerry Washington.
Stevens and his father expanded their partnership in 1993 when Stevens became producer of Christmas in Washington, the annual event for the benefit of Children’s National Medical Center attended by presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama. He produced the annual telecast on NBC, then TNT for over 20 years and directed it for the last ten years. Stevens joined the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003, the same year he married Alexandra Gifford, who ultimately served as a co-producer on many of Stevens’ projects. He became a full producing partner on Kennedy Center Honors in 2007, going on to share five consecutive Emmy Awards with his father for Outstanding Television Special, 2009-2013.
Stevens received a Directors Guild nomination for directing and producing Thurgood for HBO in 2011. The production, which starred Laurence Fishburne in a reprise of his Broadway performance in George Stevens Jr.’s play about civil rights pioneer and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, was nominated for three Emmy Awards and a SAG Award. Stevens received the NAACP award for his directing work.
Stevens was chairman of the 65th and 66th Annual DGA Awards and the Guild’s Emmy-winning series of 75th Anniversary films, DGA Moments In Time. The DGA issued a statement today upon learning of Stevens’ death, which reads in part:
“For more than seven decades, the DGA has been a part of the Stevens family. The grandson of three-term Guild president George Stevens and son of director member George Stevens, Jr., Michael’s family connection to the DGA began when his grandfather was one of the first Guild Service Award recipients at the inaugural DGA Awards in 1948. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Stevens also co-wrote and co-produced We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration for HBO. Most recently he wrote, directed and produced the acclaimed HBO 2014 documentary Herblock: The Black & The White, the story of famed Washington Post and syndicated columnist Herbert Block.
Stevens is survived by his wife Alexandra and their children, John, 11, and Lily, 10, his parents George and Elizabeth, his brother David and his sister Caroline Stevens Koka. Funeral and memorial services will be private.