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Kenneth Levis
Producer, Director, Writer, Editor

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Ken Levis has been producing, directing, writing, and editing documentaries for more than thirty years. During that time his films have covered a wide range of subjects, from the arts and world history, to public affairs and current events. It has been broadcast on PBS, ABC, CBS, the Discovery Channel, and released theatrically. His work has been honored with seven national Emmy Awards, four Peabody Awards, three duPont-Columbia Awards, and a Writers’ Guild of America Award, among others. He lives in New York City.

His most recent PBS production was INSIDE INDONESIA: STRUGGLE FOR THE SOUL OF ISLAM which he produced, wrote, directed and edited for the limited series America at a Crossroads.

His credits also include several programs for the renowned PBS series Frontline, including the award winning DRUG WARS; WACO: THE INSIDE STORY; NAVY BLUES; TRAIL OF A TERRORIST; INNOCENCE LOST: THE VERDICT; and THE CRASH.



For ABC television, Mr. Levis produced, wrote and directed EVIL RISING: HITLER’S PATH TO POWER, for the Peter Jennings series The Century; was a producer of REPORT FROM GROUND ZERO; and edited DANGEROUS WORLD: THE KENNEDY YEARS.

Over the past few years, he has produced, written and directed numerous documentaries for the Discovery Channel, including four that feature the Pulitzer Prize winning author and New York Times Foreign Affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman: STRADDLING THE FENCE: ISRAEL’S WALL IN THE WEST BANK; DOES EUROPE HATE US?; THE OTHER SIDE OF OUTSOURCING; and ADDICTED TO OIL.

Selected Credits:

Editor – “Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness,” feature length biography of the great Yiddish writer who inspired Fiddler on the Roof. Riverside Films (2010)

Senior Producer – “The Narcotic Farm,” a history of the Federal prison/hospital in Lexington Kentucky, the first to treat drug addiction as a medical rather than criminal problem, and temporary home to many of America’s greatest jazz artists. PBS (2008)

Producer/Director/Writer/Editor – “Struggle for the Soul of Islam: Inside Indonesia,” on the rise of Islamic extremism in the world’s most populist Muslim nation. PBS (2007)

Producer/Director/Writer/Editor – “Addicted to Oil: Thomas L. Friedman Reporting,” about the geo-politics of America’s energy consumption and alternatives to oil. Discovery (2006)

Producer/Director/Writer – “Does Europe Hate Us?: Thomas L. Friedman Reporting,” about anti-Americanism in Europe in the wake of President Bush’s re-election. For the Discovery Channel’s Spotlight series. (2005)

Producer/Director/Writer/Editor – “The Other Side of Outsourcing: Thomas L. Friedman Reporting,” about the impact of globalization on Indian society, and its implications for the future world economy. Discovery Channel’s Spotlight series. (2004

Producer/Director/Writer/Editor – “West Bank Wall: Thomas L. Friedman Reporting,” an examination of both sides of the controversy surrounding the wall Israel is building in the West Bank. Discovery Channel’s Spotlight series. (2003)

Senior Producer/Writer/Editor – “Inside North Korea,” about the historical and political forces that shape the current crisis. New York Times TV & Discovery. (2003)

Senior Producer/Writer/Editor – “Nuclear Nightmares: Losing Control,” ninety minute PBS Special about the global crisis of nuclear proliferation, and the growing threat of loose nukes in the age of terror. Part of the PBS series Avoiding Armageddon. (2003)

Senior Producer/Writer – “The Real Saddam,” about Saddam Hussien’s rise to power, and the brutal tactics used to maintain it. New York Times TV & Discovery. (2002)

Producer – “Report From Ground Zero” Two hour Special Presentation for ABC, commemorating the one year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. (2002)

Producer/Writer/Editor – “Journalists Under Fire,” about the Pentagon’s policy of limiting press access during the war in Afghanistan. For PBS’s Media Matters. (2002)

Producer/Writer/Editor – “Trail of a Terrorist” Winner of duPont-Columbia Gold Baton. Frontline version of a CBC report on Ahmed Ressam, the ‘Millennium Bomber,’ who tells the inside story of how a terrorist cell operates in North America. (2001)

Producer/Writer/Senior Editor – “Drug Wars,” winner of the Peabody Award, Emmy Award, & Writers Guild of America Award. A four hour series tracing the history of the U.S. government’s thirty year war against drugs. For PBS’s Frontline. (2000)

Producer/Director/Writer/Editor - "Evil Rising," the story of Hitler's path to power, from down and out drifter to absolute ruler. Part of the prime-time series The Century on ABC, with Host/Narrator Peter Jennings. ABC/News. (1999)

Producer/Director/Editor – “Notes from the Ballpark,” a behind the scenes look at covering the NY Yankees for the NY Times. For PBS’s Media Matters. (1999)

Writer/Editor – “Justice for Sale,” Emmy nominated Frontline about campaign contributions to judicial candidates undermining confidence in our courts. With Bill Moyers. Produced by Steve Talbot. (1999)

Editor – “Winter Dreams,” Peabody Award winner. Ninety minute portrait of F. Scott Fitzgerald, for PBS’s American Masters. Produced by Dewitt Sage. (2001)

Senior Editor – “The Crash,” about the causes and consequences of the global financial crisis of 1998. Edward R. Murrow Award winner. Frontline. (1999)

Producer/Editor - "Secrets of an Independent Counsel," the case history of an investigation, from the perspective of Independent Counsel Donald Smaltz. Produced with Michael Kirk for PBS's Frontline. (1998)

Producer/Editor - "The $50,000 Wave," about Big Wave surfers in Northern California, and the dangers of corporate promotions that encourage reckless competitions. For the ABC/News magazine Out There. (1998)

Producer/Editor - "The Fixers," about a husband and wife team of political hustlers from Hawaii who became major players in the campaign finance scandals of 1996. Produced with Michael Kirk for Frontline. (1997)

Editor - "Dangerous World: The Kennedy Years." A two hour ABC/News Special about the secret life and policies of JFK. Based on Seymour Hersh's The Dark Side of Camelot, with Peter Jennings. Mark Obenhaus & Edward Gray producers. (1997)

Producer/Editor - "Navy Blues." 1996 Emmy Award. An investigation of the ongoing turmoil in the Navy in the aftermath of the Tailhook scandal, and the events leading up to the suicide of Admiral Mike Borda, Chief of Naval Operations. Produced with Michael Kirk for Frontline. (1996)

Co-Producer/Editor - "The Political Education of Maggie Lauterer." Winner of 1996 Peabody Award, duPont-Columbia Award, and Emmy Award for Best Editing. Ninety minute portrait of a Congressional campaign, depicting the trials, tribulations, and
humiliations of running for office in North Carolina. Part of the PBS series Vote for Me: Politics in America. Center for New American Media. (1996)

Producer/Editor - "Waco: The Inside Story." Winner of 1995 Peabody Award. In depth examination of the standoff at the Branch Davidian compound from the FBI's point of view, detailing key events and decisions that led to its tragic resolution. Produced with Michael Kirk for Frontline. (1995)

Editor - "The Vanishing Father," a Frontline about the effects of single parenting on children and the changing role of fathers. D.L. Sage Productions. (1995)

Editor - "The Orphan Train." Emmy Award nominee for Best Editing, about the Children's Aid Society's practice of shipping big city orphans to rural communities in the hope of finding a new home. For PBS’s American Experience. Ed Gray Films. (1994)

Editor - "Martin Scorsese's Personal Journey Through American Movies," a three part series on the history of American films from the perspective of one of America’s greatest directors. Produced by the British Film Institute and directed by Martin Scorsese. (1994)

Editor - "Innocence Lost: The Verdict." Winner of 1993 duPont-Columbia Award, and the Grand Prize at Banff Film Festival. Four hour Frontline special about one of the largest child sexual abuse cases in U.S. history. Ofra Bikel Productions. (1993)

Editor - "Faith Under Fire," for PBS about the suppression of religion in Poland and Czechoslovakia under communism, and the role of the underground church in the democratic revolutions of 1989, with President Vaclav Havel. Sage Productions. (1992)

Director/Editor - "George Marshall and the American Century." Winner of 1992 Emmy Award. A feature length biography of the former Army Chief of Staff, Secretary of State and Nobel Laureate for Peace. A PBS Special Presentation. (1991)

Director/Editor - "Mr. Sears' Catalogue," one hour historical documentary about the impact of the famous mail order catalog on turn of the century America, for the PBS series The American Experience. Obenhaus Films, Inc. (1989)

Editor - "We Shall Overcome," about the history of the civil rights anthem, and the role of music in social movements past and present. Winner of 1988 Emmy Award. PBS (1988)

Editor - "Miles Ahead: The Music of Miles Davis," biographical documentary for the PBS’s Great Performances about the world renowned jazz artist. Obenhaus Films (1986)

Editor - "The Fire Unleashed," three hour documentary special for ABC News/Closeup about nuclear issues confronting society, including power, waste, weaponry, and proliferation. (1985)

Editor - "Growing Old in America," three hour documentary special for ABC News/Closeup about the problems of aging. (1985)

Editor - "The Supreme Court," One hour documentary for ABC News/Closeup about shifting trends in the nation’s highest court, with Justices Harry Blackmun and William Rehnquist. (1984)

Editor - "To Save Our Schools, To Save Our Children," three hour documentary special for ABC News/Closeup about the crisis in public education. (1984)

Editor - "Backstage at the Kirov," feature documentary about the Kirov Ballet Company of Leningrad. Nationwide theatrical release in 1984. Armand Hammer Productions (1983)

Producer/Director/Editor - "Jackie McLean on Mars," about the life and times of the great jazz saxophonist. Mobil Award for Best Documentary. Ken Levis Films. (1983)

New York University/School of the Arts. B..A. June '76. Summa Cum Laude.