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Michael Stevens, a six-time Emmy-winning producer and a third-generation member of the esteemed Stevens family of Hollywood, has died, the Directors Guild of America announced Tuesday. He was 48.
Stevens died Thursday during treatment for an unspecified cancer at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, his family said.
Stevens was a grandson of two-time Oscar-winning director George Stevens (A Place in the Sun, Giant) and son of George Stevens Jr., 83, the multiple Emmy winner known for his work on the annual Kennedy Center Honors telecast from Washington and for founding the American Film Institute.
Michael Stevens wrote, produced and directed more than 30 primetime event and concert specials, including the Kennedy Center Honors, for which he earned five Emmy wins (all shared with his father).
Stevens also produced and/or directed the televised Christmas in Washington celebration for more than two decades and was at the helm of several AFI Life Achievement Award specials, starting when Elizabeth Taylor was saluted in 1993. (His father created the AFI honor.)
Stevens also worked with his dad when he served as an associate producer on Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line (1998), which was nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture.
Most recently, Stevens wrote, directed and produced the 2014 HBO documentary Herblock: The Black and White, the story of Washington Post columnist Herbert Block.
Stevens produced and directed the crime dramas Bad City Blues (1999), starring Michael Massee, and Sin (2003), toplined by Gary Oldman, and did double duty on the 2011 HBO biopic Thurgood, starring Laurence Fishburne in a reprisal of his Broadway performance. The movie was written by George Stevens Jr., and his son received an NAACP award for his efforts.
In 2009, Stevens co-wrote and co-produced We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration for HBO.
A native of Washington, Stevens attended Duke University and then worked at the International Herald Tribune before embarking on his career in Hollywood.
His paternal great-grandmother, Georgia Woodthorpe, was a theater star in San Francisco in the late 19th century; his great-grandparents, Landers Stevens and Georgie Cooper, starred on stage in the city; and Alice Howell, his maternal great-grandmother, was a comedienne who made more than 100 silent films.
Stevens served as chairman of the 65th and 66th annual DGA Awards and created DGA Moments in Time, the guild’s Emmy-winning series of 75th anniversary films. DGA president Paris Barclay said that Stevens “brought guild history to life to share with our members and the world.”
“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,” Barclay noted.
In addition to his father, Stevens is survived by his mother Elizabeth; his wife Alexandra (a former talent executive who ultimately served as a co-producer on many of his projects) and their children John, 11, and Lily, 10; his brother David; and his sister Caroline. The funeral and memorial services will be private.
Updated at 2:25 p.m. on Oct. 20 to include details of death.
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