American Masters Cab Calloway: Sketches
Premieres nationally Monday, February 27 at 10 p.m. (ET) on PBS
(check local listings)
Director and Writer
Gail Levin is an Emmy Award-winning producer/director of both television and film. Her past films for American Masters include the Emmy-nominated Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides (2011), Marilyn Monroe: Still Life (2006) and James Dean: Sense Memories (2005). Monroe and Dean both earned CINE Golden Eagle Awards and were featured in Montreal’s International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA).
In 2011, Levin served as producer/director of host introductions and additional program content for the PBS Arts Fall Festival and series producer on Picturing America on Screen, an online and on-air public television video companion to the National Endowment for the Humanities’s initiative to help teach American history through art. She also created The Naked Campaign, a series of multi-platform animated documentary shorts following the 2008 Presidential race, with editorial artist Steve Brodner, whose original art is featured in American Masters Cab Calloway: Sketches. These short films were distributed internationally by The New York Times Syndicate, broadcast on the Sundance Channel and reside on The New Yorker website.
Levin’s work has encompassed the world of celebrity and pop culture, sports, politics, finance and fashion, and includes documentary and independent films. She has worked on an array of films with artists, great thinkers and doers, including Cher, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Paul McCartney, Yo-Yo Ma, Bobby McFerrin, Whoopi Goldberg, Joni Mitchell, Tom Stoppard, Lou Reed, George McGovern, Archibald Cox, Julian Bond, and many others. Levin also has produced and directed films on and for prestigious arts institutions that include the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic, and the Guggenheim.
Levin’s other projects include Making “The Misfits” (2002) and Guys & Dolls: Off the Record (1992), both for PBS’s Great Performances; The Tall Ship Lindo, documenting a trans-Atlantic crossing, which won three Emmys of its own; and Harvard: A Video Portrait on the 350th anniversary of Harvard University that is included in the Library of Congress’s collection of significant historical broadcasts; and Stroke of Genius, an animated series on MAD Magazine artists for Sundance Channel.
Series Creator and Executive Producer
Susan Lacy has been an award-winning originator of primetime public television programs since 1979. As the creator and executive producer of American Masters, she has been responsible for the production and national broadcast of more than 160 documentary films about our country’s artistic and cultural giants, those who have made an indelible impact on the American landscape. Now celebrating its 26th season on PBS, American Masters has garnered unprecedented awards and is consistently recognized by television critics as “the best biographical series ever to appear on American television.”
In addition to her executive producing role, Lacy is an award-winning filmmaker. Her 2004 Judy Garland: By Myself earned her an Emmy Award for writing and an Emmy nomination for directing. She wrote, directed and produced Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind (IDA nomination for Outstanding Documentary) and Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for the Note (Emmy Award and DGA nomination). She produced the Peabody Award-winning Paul Simon: Born at the Right Time, directed and produced Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval, and directed and produced Lena Horne: In Her Own Voice – all for American Masters. She recently produced LENNONYC, a film exploring John Lennon’s life in New York City, and is currently directing a film on David Geffen.
Under her leadership, American Masters received the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Nonfiction Series in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011 as well as 15 other Primetime Emmy Awards – 5 for Outstanding Nonfiction Specials and the other 10 in various craft categories. In addition to 11 Peabody Awards for John Hammond: From Bessie Smith to Bruce Springsteen, Unknown Chaplin, Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow, Paul Simon: Born at the Right Time, Alexander Calder, F. Scott Fitzgerald: Winter Dreams, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About, LENNONYC, and A Letter to Elia, she received Grammy Awards for Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, and When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors, 33 additional Emmy nominations, an Academy Award and four nominations.
Lacy’s career in public television began in 1979, as deputy director of performance programs at Thirteen/WNET New York. She was senior program executive for Great Performances and worked as director of program development with The American Playhouse, where she was a founding member. Lacy then ran the East Coast office of Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute from 1984 to 1987. She was a consulting producer at Time-Life Video during the launch of Time-Warner’s new initiatives in long-form documentary production. Lacy also led programs at both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Lacy was one of the select 2005 honorees at the Museum of Television & Radio’s “She Made It” event, which recognized 50 exceptional women who have created and informed the genre, and a 2008 Washington, DC, Women of Vision Awards recipient, honoring those in film and video who inspire and mentor. She was honored again in Washington, DC, in 2010 as the recipient of the Cine Golden Eagle Lifetime Achievement Award. She serves on the board of governors of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, on the board of the Film Forum and is a trustee of the Independent Documentary Association. Lacy is a member of the Directors Guild of America, the Writers Guild of America, the Independent Features Project and New York Women in Film & Television.
Lacy holds a BA in American Studies from the University of Virginia, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and an MA in American Studies from George Washington University. She was a Graduate Teaching Fellow, a Smithsonian Fellow and completed a residency at the American Academy in Rome. In 1994, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Long Island University and in 1996, she was named Distinguished Alumnus of the Year at Mary Washington College, the women’s college of the University of Virginia.