FILMMAKERSMICHAEL STEVENS is the director-producer of three independent feature films, a Grammy-nominated album and a producer-director-writer of over 30 prime-time event specials in his 20-year career.
He is the recipient of seven Emmy Awards, two Writers Guild nominations, an NAACP Image Award and one Directors Guild nomination.
His most recent directorial effort is HERBLOCK – THE BLACK & THE WHITE, the feature documentary on the life of the editorial cartoonist, Herbert Block. It had its premiere at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.
In 2011 he produced and directed the film adaptation of the Broadway play, THURGOOD, starring Laurence Fishburne, for HBO, which was nominated for three Emmy Awards, a SAG Award and a Directors Guild of America Award for outstanding direction.
For the last seven years, he has co-produced and co-written the KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, propelling the HONORS to Emmy Nominations in 2007 and 2008, and Emmy Awards in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 for Outstanding Primetime Special.
The recording project that he produced, BETTYE LAVETTE: THE BRITISH ROCK SONGBOOK was nominated for Outstanding Contemporary Blues album in 2011.
In 2009 he wrote and produced WE ARE ONE: THE OBAMA INAUGURAL CELEBRATION (HBO) before an audience of 600,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial. He was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Special.
His most recent fiction feature film is SIN – a modern-day western set in Reno that stars Gary Oldman and Ving Rhames. It was sold to Columbia Pictures/ Screen Gems at the Sundance Film Festival.
His other feature film credits include BAD CITY BLUES (Dennis Hopper, Michael Massee, Michael McGrady), which he produced and directed and had its premiere at the AFI International Film Festival – and THE THIN RED LINE, where he worked for Terry Malick as associate producer on the film nominated for seven Academy Awards.
Michael Stevens' television producing credits include CHRISTMAS IN WASHINGTON for the past 20 years (NBC/TNT) and THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE SALUTES. . . from 1993-’98 (ABC/CBS/NBC), which was nominated for an Emmy in 1995. His first production in 1993, THE GREAT ONES: THE NATIONAL SPORTS AWARDS (NBC), was also nominated for an Emmy. For the past ten years, he has also directed the multi-camera production of CHRISTMAS IN WASHINGTON.
In 1999 he produced Steven Spielberg’s film history of the 20th century, THE UNFINISHED JOURNEY with an original score by John Williams. It had its premiere on the CBS broadcast of AMERICA’S MILLENNIUM, the three-hour live television special which he produced with Quincy Jones for the President and First Lady on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before an audience of 350,000.
Mr. Stevens was born and raised in Washington, DC, graduated from Duke University (B.A. ’89 English Literature and Political Science) and now lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Alexandra, son, John Cooper, and daughter, Lily.
GEORGE STEVENS, JR. has achieved an extraordinary creative legacy over a career spanning almost 50 years. He is a writer, director, producer, playwright and author. He has enriched the film and television arts as a filmmaker and is widely credited with bringing style and taste to the national television events he has conceived, including THE KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, which took place for the 35th time in 2012.
Stevens has earned many accolades, including sixteen Emmys, two Peabody Awards for Meritorious Service to Broadcasting, the Humanitas Prize and eight awards from the Writers Guild of America, including the Paul Selvin Award for writing that embodies civil rights and liberties. In 2012 the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to present Stevens with an Honorary Academy Award for “extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement.”
Stevens serves as Co-chairman of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities following his appointment by President Obama in 2009.
Stevens is founder of the American Film Institute and during his tenure, more than 10,000 irreplaceable American films were preserved and catalogued to be enjoyed by future generations. In addition, he established the AFI’s Center for Advanced Film Studies, which gained a reputation as the finest learning opportunity for young filmmakers.
Stevens made his debut as a playwright in 2008 with THURGOOD, which opened at the historic Booth Theater on Broadway. The play had an extended run starring Laurence Fishburne as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Fishburne received a Tony nomination and returned to the role in the summer of 2010 with runs at the Kennedy Center and the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. THURGOOD was filmed while at the Kennedy Center and shown on HBO in 2011.
Stevens was executive producer of THE THIN RED LINE, which was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. He co-wrote and produced THE MURDER OF MARY PHAGAN, starring Jack Lemmon, which received the Emmy for Outstanding Mini-Series. He wrote and directed SEPARATE BUT EQUAL starring Sidney Poitier and Burt Lancaster which also won the Emmy for Outstanding Mini-Series. Stevens won two Emmys for the 1994 documentary, GEORGE STEVENS: D-DAY TO BERLIN, which depicted the wartime experiences of his father – one of the most highly regarded directors of all time. He produced an acclaimed feature length film about his father, GEORGE STEVENTS: A FILMMAKER'S JOURNEY.
In 2006, Alfred A. Knopf published Stevens’ CONVERSATIONS WITH THE GREAT MOVIEMAKERS OF HOLLYWOOD'S GOLDEN AGE – the first book to bring together the interviews of master moviemakers from the American Film Institute’s renowned Harold Lloyd Master Seminar Series. CONVERSATIONS WITH THE GREAT MOVIEMAKERS – THE NEXT GENERATION was released by Knopf in April, 2012.
Stevens, in collaboration with his son and partner Michael Stevens, recently completed a feature length documentary HERBLOCK – THE BLACK & THE WHITE on the famed political cartoonist Herbert Block.
SARA LUKINSON is a documentary filmmaker and writer, who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career doing what she loves best. She has been honored with three Emmy Awards, six Emmy nominations and seven awards from the Writers Guild of America.
For the past 25 years, she has had the pleasure of producing and writing the film profiles for the highly awarded KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, creating more than 125 short, insightful films about performing artists.
The subjects of her full length documentary films have included architects and exiled artists, visionaries, violinists, cartoonists, radio personalities, and the great trouble-makers and monument-makers of our time.
She won an Emmy for her film about the violinist Itzhak Perlman, IN THE FIDDLER’S HOUSE, and another Emmy for a two hour celebration of Irving Berlin at Carnegie Hall. Other luminaries she has profiled in full length films include Garrison Keillor, for the American Master’s THE MAN ON THE RADIO IN THE RED SHOES; Jim Henson, THE WORLD OF JIM HENSON; Henry Geldzhaler WHO GETS TO CALL IT ART?; architect I.M.Pei and violinist Jasha Heifetz. Her next film is about the legendary architect, Eero Saarinen.
She was privileged to be asked by the City of New York to write their annual 9/11 CEREMONIES at Ground Zero, beginning with the first ceremony in 2002. Her book, SEPTEMBER MORNING is a moving collection of the writings, readings and poetry spoken over the ten years of the public ceremonies.
In 2009 she wrote WE ARE ONE: THE OBAMA INAUGURAL CELEBRATION (HBO) at the Lincoln Memorial, for which she won an Emmy.
Over her varied and creatively rich career, she has been asked to write films and historic ceremonies for many of America’s best loved institutions, including Carnegie Hall, Ellis Island, Lincoln Center, the Olympics Opening Ceremonies, and the Hollywood Bowl. She wrote and produced a full length documentary about the cultural history of the White House, IN TUNE WITH HISTORY and was one of the writers of AMERICA’S MILLENIUM for CBS. She has also created short films for the Tony Awards, the Emmy Awards, the Presidential Inaugural Gala, and The Great Ones: The National Sports Awards.
She is currently producing and writing, ALL THE RIGHT MOVES, a film about an inspiring after school program in New York City built on chess and created by a savvy, spirited philanthropist who has decided to give away most of his money.
ROB MATHES is an arranger/composer, nationally renowned music producer/director and a performer. Rob has produced recordings by Rod Stewart, Bettye Lavette, Carly Simon, Vanessa Williams, and the young bands Panic at The Disco and The Young Veins. In the past year he has produced two records for Sting; 2010’s Symphonicities, and Live In Berlin, and arranged much of the music for Sting’s Symphonicity Tour with the Royal Philharmonic, serving as that tour’s Music Producer/Director. He also produced half of the new Matthew Morrison record, the star of the TV show Glee, including duets with Sir Elton John and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Recently Rob also produced a remake of the track of Walk on The Wild Side for the legendary Lou Reed.
Rob has been nominated for six Emmys, winning for his music direction of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012. He is the longtime Music Director for The Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame and worked with Quincy Jones and Phil Ramone arranging and leading the concert for the World Economic Forum. He arranged and musically directed the We Are One-Obama Inauguration Concert at the Lincoln Memorial for HBO featuring Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Beyonce and others.
As an arranger Rob has orchestrated music for a number of stars all over the stylistic spectrum from Sir Elton John, Tony Bennett, Mary J Blige, and Tim McGraw to Lou Reed, Sade, Eric Clapton, Jay Z, nevershoutnever, Butch Walker, Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy, Beck, Aretha Franklin, Hall and Oates, and Mariah Carey, also working with Classical artists such as Renee Fleming, Bryn Terfel, and Yo Yo Ma. Sting recorded Mathes’ arrangement of the classic American song \"In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning” with Trumpeter Chris Botti. He arranged \"You’ll Never Walk Alone” for The Three Tenors-Live In Paris CD and was the arranger and guitarist on the last six Pavarotti and Friends concerts held each year in Modena, Italy, Luciano Pavarotti’s hometown.
As a composer, Grammy winning conductor Leonard Slatkin commissioned Rob to write a piece based on Gershwin themes called \"Gershwiniana” for The Los Angeles Philharmonic. His \"A Standing Ground: Concertino For Orchestra” was just premiered by The Nashville Symphony conducted by Slatkin in February. He is currently working on a piece for The Britten Sinfonia, one of London’s finest contemporary ensembles.
As a songwriter, his songs have been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Oleta Adams, Aaron Neville, The Rascal Flatts, Wynonna Judd and Vanessa Williams among many others.
Rob was the guest artist for The Boston Pops National Christmas Tour in 2000 and PBS televised his own Christmas special the same year featuring Michael McDonald, Vanessa Williams, David Sanborn, and renowned actor Ossie Davis. His record \"Evening Train\" came out in 2002, and he has recently released a new double CD \"Orchestral Songs” recorded at London’s famed Abbey Road Studios featuring songs for Orchestra and Voice.
In collaboration with Sade’s Stuart Matthewman, Rob has orchestrated and co-composed three film scores for directors Mark and Michael Polish: Twin Falls Idaho, Northfork and, most notably, The Astronaut Farmer featuring Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Willis.
ZORAN POPOVIC arrived in Los Angeles via Serbia. He graduated from the American Film Institute and has been photographing critically acclaimed feature films, music videos and commercials ever since.
His talent, curiosity and dedication to making a film as good as it can be, have led him to work with some of the most influential directors, producers and actors of our time, including actor/director Gary Oldman (feature film Joe Buck, music video for Debbie Harry & Perry Farel), and legends like Ken Russell, Joe Dante, Monte Hellman, and Sean Cunningham.
His credits include 2 recent Sony Studio films; WHISKEY BAY (William Deafoe, Matt Dillon) And DREW PETERSON STORY (Rob Lowe), WAR INC. (John Cusack, Ben Kingsley, Marissa Tomei and Hillary Duff), Illeana Douglas’s SUPERMARKET (Jeff Goldblum and Daryl Hannah), the Canadian lensed TRAPPED ASHES, Michael Stevens’s SIN (Gary Oldman, Ving Rhames and Brian Cox), and BAD CITY BLUES (Dennis Hopper), Chris Siverston’s haunting adaptation of Jack Ketchum’s THE LOST, Asiel Norton’s REDLAND, for which he won the Best Cinematography Award at 2009’s Brooklyn film festival, EXPIRED (Samantha Morton and Jason Patrick) which he shot for legendary producer, Fred Roos, was featured in the 2007 Sundance and Cannes film festivals, and he returned to Sundance in 2009 with Paul Solet’s GRACE.
Zoran’s other credits, like the Jennifer Lopez/Sony BMG produced dance feature FEEL THE NOISE, and the genre favorite, LIES AND ILLUSIONS (Christian Slater and Cuba Gooding Jr.) reflect his flexibility as an artist and his versatility as a technician.
Zoran is widely considered one of the true rising stars in the world of feature film cinematography. Those who work with him, from producers, to actors to directors, swear by his eye, his passion, and his joy as a collaborator. He energizes cast and crews alike, ever focused on the importance of story and human relationship in producing truly great photography.
A warmly celebratory portrait… [with] a dramatically and emotionally satisfying conclusion.
The pic's overall technical polish enhances its engaging storytelling… Undeniably impressive.
The all-star lineup of journalists who appear in Herblock: The Black and the White concur that Herblock (the editorial cartoonist Herbert Block, who adopted that pen name), was a rare talent: an incisive satirist, a prescient judge of character, a wielder of a sure graphic line and a class act to boot. Michael Stevens's laudatory documentary trumpets all these qualities, engaging in the very sort of mythologizing that its subject might have punctured in his heyday.
[An] introduction to an inspiring artist and farsighted patriot… Instantly satisfying.
A finely drawn portrait.
It is the fearlessness and conviction of one man who influenced the hearts and minds of a country that makes Herblock: The Black and the White such a compelling documentary.
Makes you reflect on the virtues of telling truth to power and not letting that increasingly rare ability go to your head. . . Seek it out as soon as you can.
The life of America's greatest political cartoonist provides an engaging history lesson for the Daily Show generation – and the makers of Herblock: The Black & The White draw him with style, wit, precision, and profound emotion.
The National Memo
Herblock was the finest political cartoonist of his day, and Herblock: The Black & The White makes it vividly clear why and how he was simultaneously a subversive, a patriot and a national institution, i.e. red, white and blue as well as in black and white. A must see movie for anyone who cares about cultural and political commentary, and a lot of fun to watch, too.
A film that shows why journalism in all its forms matters so much to our country, and it is a worthy tribute to an exceptionally gifted man.
Herblock: The Black & The White is one of the best films of the festival. This is a marvelous look at Herb Block’s decades long career as a political cartoonist. Jon Stewart, Lewis Black, Ted Koppel, Tom Brokaw, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward and others explain why political cartoonists are important and why Black was one of the all time best. What I love about the film is not only is it a portrait of Block, but it also is a wonderful look at the times he, and we, live in. A masterpiece.
Unseen Films: Tribeca Day 9 blog post
This lively portrait presents Herbert Block as the Jon Stewart of his era. The smart doc will play great on TV, but fine production values and a broad historical scope would be welcomed in niche theatrical bookings as well.
Herblock: The Black & The White tells the story of Herbert Block through the long arc of his career. In big bold strokes, the film tells the story of a man who came to Washington with pens and paper and became an icon.
From his bloodlines and his sight-lines, Michael Stevens knows a little something about saluting giants. On Thursday (AFI Docs), the city got to see how Michael Stevens – working with regular co-writer Sara Lukinson – would chronicle one of Washington’s greatest journalistic giants. Stevens and Lukinson have delivered an elegant and clear-eyed film that provides an inspiring portrait of Herblock, the legendary Post political cartoonist who visually commented on world events ranging from the Depression through the Bush-Gore election.
Washington Post blogpost
The film covers the entirety of Herbert Block’s life. The material that Herblock covered was quite expansive, but the film kept moving with relative ease. While the run time of the film is 95 minutes, director Michael Stevens manages to pack in lots of information without anything feeling unnecessary. Using the tons of different filmmaking techniques at their disposal, the filmmakers made this an engaging, enjoyable experience. Score A-
Under the Gun Review
ROGERS & COWAN
Los Angeles, CA
GEORGE STEVENS, JR.
director of photograhy
based on the writings and speeches of
Herbert Block's father
young Herbert Block
cartoon and photograph visual effects by
and JAKE HAMILTON
hair and make-up
cartoon artist and technical advisor
post production supervisor
visual effects supervisor|
visual effects artists
photograph vfx artists
chicago 1918 sequence|
visual effects supervisor
visual effects artists
opening titles design
KRIS SANTA CRUZ
music composed and orchestrated by
music editing and mixing by
orchestra recorded and mixed by
ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS, LONDON
piano and chamber ensemble
MSR STUDIOS, NEW YORK
post production facilities
BENTLIGHT DIGITAL, BEVERLY HILLS
DREAMDUST VFX, BELGRADE
HAMILTON POST, NORTH HOLLWYOOD
SOUND DESIGN, HOLLYWOOD
REBACK LEE & CO.
ROGERS & COWAN, LOS ANGELES
HOWELL BEGLE, ESQ
LISA A. CALLIF, DONALDSON + CALLIF
the producers wish to thank those who generously contributed their time and recollections
the producers wish to thank
THE HERB BLOCK FOUNDATION
the producers also wish to thank
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
the producers extend their heartfelt thanks to
photo stills courtesy of
THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM
GETTY IMAGES/LIFE MAGAZINE
THE GRAHAM FAMILY COLLECTION
THE HERB BLOCK FOUNDATION
THE IMAGE WORKS
photo stills courtesy of
LAKE FORREST COLLEGE ARCHIVE
LYNDON JOHNSON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY & MUSEUM
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PRINTS & PHOTOGRAPHS DIVISION
RICHARD NIXON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY & MUSEUM
WASHINGTON DAILY NEWS
archival footage courtesy of
ABC NEWS VIDEOSOURCE
COMEDY PARTNERS/COMEDY CENTRAL
FILM ARCHIVES, INC.
FOOTAGE FARM USA
THE HERB BLOCK FOUNDATION
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS MOTION PICTURE, BROADCAST AND RECORDED SOUND DIVISION
NBC UNIVERSAL ARCHIVES
NATIONAL ARCHIVES & RECORDS ADMINISTRATION
RICHARD NIXON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY & MUSEUM
WILLIAM J. CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY
additional footage and stills
dialogue sources for Herbert Block portrayal
are from the writings, speeches and interviews of Herbert Block
(in order of use)
"HERBLOCK" BY HAYNES JOHNSON AND HARRY KATZ, 2009
"HERBLOCK: A CARTOONIST'S LIFE" BY HERBERT BLOCK, 1993
"HERBLOCK'S HISTORY” BY HARRY KATZ, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, 2010
“HERBLOCK'S STATE OF THE UNION" BY HERBERT BLOCK, 1968
"THE HERBLOCK BOOK" BY HERBERT BLOCK, 1952
INTERVIEW WITH JAMES DAY, “DAY AT NIGHT,” CUNY TV, 1984"
INTERVIEW ON “BOOK TV” C-SPAN2, 1993
"HERBLOCK'S SPECIAL FOR TODAY" BY HERBERT BLOCK, 1958
"HERBLOCK THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS" BY HERBERT BLOCK, 1984
"HERBLOCK AT LARGE" BY HERBERT BLOCK, 1987
"COLBY COLLEGE CONVOCATION SPEECH" BY HERBERT BLOCK, 1986
opening "Kaiser Wilhelm" scene based on excerpt from the memoir:
"HERBLOCK: A CARTOONIST'S LIFE" BY HERBERT BLOCK, 1993
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© 2013 The Stevens Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
First publication of this motion picture (sound recording and film): United States of America 2013.
The Stevens Company is the owner of the copyright in this motion picture.