George Stevens Jr Looks Back On Career From D.C. To Hollywood –

So with two days until Christmas, I can’t think of a better gift for movie lovers or those interested in famous forces in the entertainment industry than a 2022 biography. My place in the sun which chronicles the life of George Stevens Jr., now 90 years old and still going strong, in an illustrious career that has traveled from the highest corridors of Hollywood to Washington, DC.

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But most importantly, it is a father and son story. Father is legendary two-time Oscar-winning director George Stevens, whose films ranged from the Astaire and Rogers musicals; Ganga Deen, more the better, woman of the year, And after World War II, a series of immortal classics including A place in the sun, giant, sheen, And The Diary of Anne Frank. Son George Jr. spent a lot of time in some of these seats until 1965 Greatest story ever On which he was the assistant director. But not just because of her name, but because of her desire to prove herself, she had to come out from under the shadow of a famous father to make her mark, as her book titled ‘My Own Place.’ Sun’ boy, did he ever, and this book is a fascinating testament to that. Its influence is still being felt today, in fact around the season we are celebrating now.


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Stevens Jr. is the founding director of the American Film Institute, which on Jan. 13 will honor, among other things, those chosen for the AFI Movies and TV Programs of the Year. He also created the equally prestigious AFI Life Achievement Award, which first went to John Ford in 1973, and most recently to Julie Andrews in June. Next week’s telecast of the Kennedy Center Honors on CBS, from an event held in D.C. earlier this month, and as usual, Washington’s crème de la crème attended and demonstrated business power, including President Biden ( Every president (except for Ahmed, Trump) made attendance mandatory) and it was Stevens who created it and produced every one of them until 2014. He served as co-chairman of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities under President Obama.

He has won 15 Emmys, 8 WGA Awards, 2 Peabodys, a Humanitas Prize, and a 2012 Honorary Oscar. I love his previous book, Conversations With The Great Moviemakers of Hollywood’s Golden Age, another must-read for movie fans.

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Getting out from under his father’s shadow wasn’t easy, but as the book explains, it began when legendary broadcaster Edward R. Murrow asked him to head up the Motion Picture Service at the United States Information Agency (USIA). Recruited to do. The 60s really marked a golden age for him, and his efforts at AFI raised the profile of motion pictures as art. As a filmmaker himself, he made the extraordinary and highly praised documentary on his father, George Stevens: A Filmmaker’s Journey (Warren Beatty told him it was the best film ever made about a filmmaker) and A documentary film was also made on his father’s war experiences. George Stevens: D-Day to Berlin. His Thurgood Marshall TV biopic, Separate but equal Starring Sidney Poitier, and a Broadway play He wrote, Thurgood, It was a successful phase.


There’s more here, filled with fascinating anecdotes and encounters, but at its heart, like these documentaries, is his relationship with his father, and how it helped define the son who will lead to its unique success, is at its core.


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I had the opportunity to have lunch with Stevens and, even at the age of 90, it was a privilege to hear him reminisce about his wonderful life. I asked him why he decided to write this book now, and specifically returned the praise of George Stevens Jr. that Annette Bening gave when presenting him with this honorary Oscar: “Producer, playwright, activist. , politician, archivist, champion, gatekeeper, benevolent dictator, painter, writer, mentor”. So which one does? They Think he is?

“Well, you know, I think I’m kind of happy about this book. I’ve often had people in my life say, ‘Oh, yeah, you started AFI,’ or ‘Oh, you did Kennedy. Center honors did’, but there are really many different aspects of my life, as Annette said, and it’s a good feeling to have it. She ordered,” she said. “And I’m thinking, I haven’t talked about it, talked about it, but to think About that, I’m kind of introspective…I’ve never been to a psychiatrist. It’s always been one foot after another, and so, the idea of ​​doing that and getting my life in order has been fun.”


A life lesson was learned going to the 1952 Oscar ceremony where his father would win for Best Director in 1951. A place in the sun Reading the book was a highlight for me. Stevens noted that:

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“You know, going to the Oscars with my father, he drove. My mother and grandmother, his actress mother, in the back seat, Georgie Cooper, and I sat next to him. And Joseph Mankiewicz came out, The winner, I think, from last year and he read the nominations. For John Huston African queenfor William Wyler detective story, Vincente Minnelli for An American in Parisfor Elia Kazan A Streetcar Named Desire.and for George Stevens A place in the sun.

“And going home, and it’s something I remember that I didn’t really pay attention to at the time, I just remember my dad saying it when we were driving home in the car, and he He looked at me and said, ‘We’ll have a better idea of ​​what kind of picture this is in 25 years’.

“You know, he grew up in the theater, never finished high school, but he read O’Neill and educated himself, and he knew it, and this was before DVDs. He knew it. That he was talking about the test of time. This was 1952. He didn’t know he was talking to the future founder of the American Film Institute. But you know, the idea of ​​AFI, the film. Saving, the Life Achievement Award, has stood the test of time. So you’ve had experiences in your life, that you remember, that you don’t really realize how, in that case. Important It was for me.”


Stevens, between all his time on both coasts, really looks like he cloned himself. He was visible everywhere. In fact, when Steven Spielberg read the book, he said he was exactly like that. Zelig But where is this man most at home? “I’m comfortable in both places. And you know I was born right here in a Hollywood hospital, for God’s sake,” he laughed. When I was at USIA and then it was because of AFI. They both required me to be in both places.”

He points out another life lesson from his father, as he was building. Greatest story ever And he got the opportunity offered by Merv on the USIA. “It was a father’s realization that he was at his great pain because I was a valued ally in a very ambitious enterprise in film at the time, but you know he was teaching me to be one. father Also, it wasn’t of that Interest, it was mine interest, and he saw, better than I did at the time, that this might be the perfect job for me,” Stevens recalled.


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2010 Kennedy Center Honors CBS

In creating Kennedy Center honors where recipients never have to give speeches, he cited another life lesson he used to write the book. He called it the Cary Grant Law that no one had to speak or perform, because Kerry would never accept an award if he had to give a speech. “She never accepted an AFI award,” he said, though I will add that the infamous interview-shy Grant gave a sad acceptance speech for the honorary Oscar. Also, I didn’t think people should sing for their food. So, you come to DC on weekends. The artists never have to say a word.

But now while writing this book, I also had another Cary Grant law. I said, ‘If I don’t have a good story about Cary Grant, he’s not going to be in this book’. It’s not a name-dropping book, so there’s a lot of people that aren’t in the book that I cared about a lot, and were important to me, but you know, those stories didn’t come out. But now I think that with the combination of my life, Hollywood and the people I knew, and doing 37 years of the Kennedy Center Honors, we’ve honored 188 of the greatest artists over that period, and Washington. Me, the politician, Liz (his wife) and I had a wide range of associations and friends, and that’s what populates this book, that we’re lucky, and I was able to write about it.

As for what comes next in the profession he values ​​the youth in?

“You know, I have things I’m interested in doing. I found a quote in the book, which I came across years ago, with no appreciation of how timely it would be. It’s Bertram. was from Russell. The pros and cons of being ninety. He wrote that ‘a long habit of working towards a goal which one thinks is a hard habit to break’. And you know, I never had projects. I mean, some of them do.”

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