George Stevens Jr.: A career in TV, a love for film, and a new book

May 15, 2012

George Stevens Jr., center, talks to Chris Dodd and William Cohen at the MPAA offices on Monday. (Ralph Alswang)

Does George Stevens Jr. ever yearn for a bigger screen? The producer/director is Washington's biggest movie buff — the founder of the American Film Institute, the creator of the tributes to showbiz greats at the Kennedy Center Honors — but most of his own work has been in television. Now that he’s published a new paean to Hollywood — “The Great Moviemakers: The Next Generation,” interviews with post-studio system icons like Spielberg, Altman and Truffaut — we wondered if the son of the late film director George Stevens Sr. (“Giant,” “A Place in the Sun”) is wistful for a road not taken.

Well, in a word: No. “I’m so happy with what I’ve done,” Stevens, 80, told us at a crowded book party (among the guests: Wolf Blitzer, Lloyd Hand, Eleanor Clift, Chris Matthews) at the MPAA Monday. With a few notable exceptions (he produced Oscar nominee “The Thin Red Line” and wrote Broadway’s “Thurgood”), his career just naturally led him into TV — and it’s just as well.

“I could have spent my life,” he joked, “just trying to be the second-best director in my family.”

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