Michael Stevens, a Washington-born scion of a prominent filmmaking family who helped write and produce the Kennedy Center Honors and other performing arts specials that aired on TV, died Oct. 15 at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 48.
The cause was complications from stomach cancer, said his father, George Stevens Jr., a founding director of the American Film Institute and co-founder and producer of the Kennedy Center Honors.
The Stevens family’s show business roots date to 19th-century theater and, later, the silent-film era. Michael Stevens’s grandfather George Stevens was one of the most versatile movie directors of his generation and received Oscars for dramas such as “A Place in the Sun” (1951) and “Giant” (1956), both starring Elizabeth Taylor.
After a brief journalism career in France, including reporting on the Cannes Film Festival, Michael Stevens joined the family trade in the early 1990s.
Working with his father, he helped produce AFI lifetime salutes to movie stars such as Taylor and directors including Steven Spielberg. Mr. Stevens later directed several “Christmas in Washington” variety show productions for the TNT cable network.
Mr. Stevens co-produced every Kennedy Centers Honors show since 2003, sharing five prime-time Emmy Awards for that work. He also had writing credits for those specials, which air on CBS.
He directed and co-produced the 2011 HBO adaptation of his father’s Broadway play “Thurgood,” starring Laurence Fishburne as Thurgood Marshall, the renowned civil rights lawyer and U.S. Supreme Court justice.
Mr. Stevens ventured sporadically into feature film production, including “The Thin Red Line” (1998), director Terrence Malick’s Oscar-nominated adaptation of the Guadalcanal combat novel by James Jones.
Mr. Stevens directed and co-produced two violent crime dramas written by British novelist Tim Willocks, “Bad City Blues” (1999) and “Sin” (2003). Better received by critics was “Herblock: The Black & the White” (2013). The celebratory documentary about the late Washington Post editorial cartoonist Herbert L. Block was directed, co-produced and co-written by Mr. Stevens.
Michael Murrow Stevens was born in Washington on Nov. 21, 1966. His middle name was an homage to broadcaster and U.S. Information Agency director Edward R. Murrow, who had once hired George Stevens Jr. as head of the agency’s film division.
He graduated in 1985 from the private Landon School in Bethesda, Md., and four years later received a bachelor’s degree in English literature and political science from Duke University in Durham, N.C.
In addition to his Emmys for the Kennedy Center Honors, Mr. Stevens received a prime-time Emmy for his short film about the Directors Guild of America, “DGA Moments in Time” (2011). His grandfather George had been a president of the union.
Michael Stevens also shared a daytime Emmy for co-producing “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial,” which aired on HBO in 2009.
In that concert and through the Kennedy Center Honors in 2008, Mr. Stevens got to know the veteran soul singer Bettye LaVette, and he was a producer of her Grammy Award-nominated album “Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook” (2010).
In 2003, Michael Stevens married Alexandra “Ali” Gifford. Besides his wife, survivors include two children, John Stevens and Lily Stevens, all of Los Angeles; his parents, George Stevens Jr. and the former Elizabeth Guest of Washington; a brother; and a sister.