The Washington Post

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

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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