Sheila Nevins, the president of HBO Documentary Films for 38 years, is stepping down. The 78-year-old legend has supervised more than 1,000 documentaries for HBO, many of which have won Emmys, Oscars, and Peabody Awards. She has won more Emmys (32) than any individual in history, and she is second to Lorne Michaels with the most nominations ever.
So yeah, her decision to leave — but, she told the New York Times, not retire — is a big deal. She has helped bring some amazing nonfiction films to fruition, among them Alex Gibney’s Scientology expose “Going Clear,” “Manhunt: The Inside Story of the Hunt for Bin Laden,” “Teddy: In His Own Words,” “Life According to Sam,” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” “Chernobyl Heart,” “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck,” and “Citizenfour,” about Edward Snowden.
Two of my Nevins-bred favorites are war-related: “Jim: The James Foley Story,” about the New Hampshire native journalist who suffered the first ISIS beheading of an American, and Sebastian Junger’s “Which Way to the Frontline From Here: The Life and Times of Tim Hetherington,” about a photojournalist killed in Libya. And one of her productions, “Heroin: Cape Cod USA,” remains a haunting portrait of the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts.
Nevins has turned HBO into a leading outlet for documentaries, alongside PBS, Showtime, CNN, and ESPN. No word yet on who will replace her.Matthew Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.