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1998 Career Achievement Award: Sheila Nevins

By IDA Editorial Staff

A blonde older woman smiles at the camera.

No individual, in broadcast or cable television, has done more to further the cause of independent documentary programming than has Sheila Nevins, Senior Vice President for Original Programming, Home Box Office. Currently responsible for documentaries and family programming, she has overseen production of more than 150 documentaries for HBO. Her programs, also featured on HBO's sister channel Cinemax, have earned six Oscars®, 17 Emmys®, 13 George Foster Peabody and 35 CableAce awards.

A graduate of Barnard College and Yale University's School of Drama, she worked for National Education Television's Great American Dream Machine; was a field producer in documentary for ABC Television; wrote for Time-Life films; worked as producer-writer for the Children's Television Workshop; was producer for CBS's Who's Who with Don Hewitt; and served as president of Spinning Reels, a New York-based production company.

She joined HBO in 1979 as director of documentary programming and now supervises the production of an average of 30 documentaries a year. Some of the award-winning films she has overseen include Without Pity: A Film About Abilities (1996); One Survivor Remembers (1995); I Am a Promise (1993); Educating Peter (1992); Abortion: Desperate Choices (1992); and The Broadcast Tapes of Dr. Peter (1992).

Hallmarks of her prodigious career include the inspiration and encouragement she has offered to beginning documentarians and seasoned professionals alike. Filmmakers with whom she has worked closely include Jon Alpert, Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky, Bill Couturie, Robert Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman, Spike Lee, Albert Maysles, Alan & Susan Raymond, Meema Spadola and Jessica Yu. She supported the efforts of documentary filmmakers to explore controversial topics long beyond this was fashionable, and her work paved the way for the high visibility that the documentary is receiving today.