Kevin Sullivan (producer)

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Kevin Sullivan
Kevin Sullivan Producer.jpg
Born Kevin Roderick Sullivan
c. 1955 (age 61–62)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Residence Toronto, Ontario
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater University of Toronto (1979, B.S.)
Occupation President of Sullivan Entertainment Inc
Years active 1979–present
Spouse(s) Trudy Grant

Kevin Roderick Sullivan (born c. 1955) is a Canadian writer, director and producer of film and television programs.

Kevin Sullivan is best known for detailed period movies such as the Anne of Green Gables series of films, his movie adaptation of Timothy Findley's novel The Piano Man's Daughter, feature films and TV-movies such as Under the Piano, Butter Box Babies, Sleeping Dogs Lie and the CBS mini-series Seasons of Love, as well as long-running television series such as Road to Avonlea and Wind at My Back. His films have been broadcast in over 150 countries. His production company Sullivan Entertainment has produced movies, mini-series and specials for CBS, PBS, Disney, Lifetime, Ion, INSP, Channel 4, BBC, ITV, ZDF and NHK.

Early life[edit]

Sullivan began his film-making career at an early age of 24. His father, Glenn A. Sullivan was a successful attorney and his uncle Sen. Joseph A. Sullivan was a prominent doctor with a seat in Diefenbaker's senate. Sullivan strayed from a professional career in their footsteps.[1] His first foray into film-making was with a half-hour Hans Christian Andersen Christmas special titled The Fir Tree (1979) in which he edited and also had a small acting role.[2] From there Sullivan wrote, produced and directed Kreighoff (1979), a widely acclaimed docu-drama in French and English on the life of the prominent German artist and illustrator of 19th century Quebec.

Sullivan graduated from the University of Toronto in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. That year, he founded Sullivan Entertainment with Trudy Grant[3] (to whom he is now married) and they created a successful international production and distribution company that has been operating for over thirty years.[4]

Career[edit]

In 1980 Sullivan wrote, produced and directed Megan Carey (1980), a film about a young Irish immigrant indentured on a farm in 19th century Canada. His first feature film was The Wild Pony (1982), which he co-wrote, co-produced and directed became a turning point for Sullivan, because it was the first feature-length movie to be made exclusively for pay-TV in Canada.[5]

In 1984, he purchased the rights to Anne of Green Gables and completed the screenplay the four-hour miniseries in 1985 with co-writer Joe Wiesenfeld. He directed the production for CBC, Disney and PBS in 1985. Anne of Green Gables and its sequel were the highest rated dramatic productions to air in Canadian TV history. Cinematic feature versions played in theatres in Japan for five years straight.[1] Anne of Green Gables has been studied in US film schools as a model of TV Drama with a wide appeal to a wide variety of viewers. Part of Anne of Green Gables' immense attraction was its rich look, featuring painstakingly recreated sets and detailed costumes that imbued it with a magical reality. That look, or a variation on its theme, has become the hallmark of every Sullivan production since.[6]

The tremendous success of Anne of Green Gables, starring Megan Follows, Richard Farnsworth and Colleen Dewhurst led to three sequels: Anne of Green Gables – The Sequel (1987 aka Anne of Avonlea – US release) starring Follows, Dewhurst and Wendy Hiller, Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story (1998) and most recently Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning (2009) starring Barbara Hershey and Shirley MacLaine. Sullivan penned all three sequel screenplays as well as the novel for Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning. An educational, animated series Anne of Green Gables: The Animated Series produced for PBS Kids and Road to Avonlea produced for CBC and Disney, were each successful spin offs from the Anne of Green Gables franchise.[7]

Set in early 1900s Prince Edward Island, Road to Avonlea was the most popular and most lucrative drama series in Canadian TV history. Co-produced with a strong influence by Disney, Road to Avonlea was filmed on a 300-acre farm and in Sullivan's studio and back-lot in Toronto.[8] In recent years, Road to Avonlea fans from around the world have organized Avonlea Conventions (Avcon) in Toronto to meet with stars of the show, tour filming locations and celebrate their love of the show.[9]

With Wind at My Back, the 67 episode depression-era series produced as a follow-up to Road to Avonlea, Sullivan created an entire 1930s town on his company's 1.5 acre studio backlot, one of the largest in Canada, located at Sullivan Entertainment's 60,000 square foot studio and sound-stages in Toronto, which the company continues to operate.[1] Sullivan also has an accumulated thousands of items of period costumes, sets and props ranging from the 1860s to the 1960s.[10] Inspired by a lifelong interest in Baroque Architecture and the beauty of Mozart's hometown of Salzburg, in 2006 (the "Mozart-Jahre") Sullivan decided to create a contemporary, English-language feature film of the composer's classic opera The Magic Flute, entitled Magic Flute Diaries.[11] The film was a full-scale CGI production created like a variation of Sin City and 300 with elaborate studio green-screen production design. Special choreography sequences and backdrops were shot on location in palaces, monasteries and gardens in Austria and Germany.[12]

Sullivan also produced a companion documentary to Magic Flute Diaries titled Mozart Decoded, which takes a historical look at Mozart's involvement with the Freemasons and his genius as a composer.[13]

Sullivan productions have been seen in over 140 countries, starring such award-winning actors such as Colleen Dewhurst, Christopher Reeve, Meg Tilly, Eugene Levy, Treat Williams, Michael York, Madeline Kahn, Peter Coyote, Robby Benson, Bruce Greenwood, Maureen Stapleton, Faye Dunaway, Dianne Wiest, Diana Rigg, Kate Nelligan, Ryan Gosling, Zoe Caldwell, Peter Strauss, Rachel Ward, Hume Cronyn, Christopher Lloyd, Sam Waterston and Stockard Channing.[14][10]

Books[edit]

As a writer and art-enthusiast Sullivan is the author of Beyond Green Gables, a behind-the-scenes look at the production design and inspiration for his films. Sullivan's Publishing Division, Davenport Press, has released over 50 books. These titles are available as hard books and ebooks. They include novels Anne of Green Gables ~A New Beginning, a children's book series based on Anne of Green Gables: The Animated Series and an assortment of specialty coffee table books."ShopatSullivan.com". Retrieved 10 April 2013. 

Other endeavors[edit]

Sullivan Entertainment owns and operates a four-acre studio/backlot facility in Toronto which holds and rents an assortment of props, set pieces and costumes that were used in Sullivan productions.

Sullivan is also an art collector. This interest compelled him to produce the documentary Out of the Shadows. Narrated by Donald Sutherland, the documentary shows how new types of x-rays and digital imaging are allowing scientists to see beneath layers of paint to reveal and authenticate paintings by masters such as Rembrandt, Goya, Caravaggio and Van Gogh. Out of the Shadows closely follows the scientific journey of a group of material physicists and art historians during the attribution of Rembrandt's painting Old Man with a Beard at the Brookhaven National Synchrotron in Long Island, New York. The film premiered at The Metropolitan Museum in New York in June 2012.[15]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Having produced over 500 hours of movies and television in his thirty-year career he has also won hundreds of international awards, including three Emmy Awards,[16] a Peabody Award for outstanding contribution to television, Gemini, Cable-Ace & Prix Jeunesse Awards.

List of awards[edit]

  • George Foster Peabody Award
  • 3 Emmy Awards
  • 6 Emmy Award Nominations
  • 5 Gemini Awards
  • 8 Gemini Award Nominations
  • 3 CableACE Awards
  • 2 CableACE Nominations
  • Prix Jeunesse
  • TV Guide Parent's Choice Award
  • American TV Critics Award
  • 3 Golden Apple Awards from the National Educational Media Competition
  • 1 Ollie Award
  • European Jury Prize at the Umbriafiction TV Festival
  • Gold World Medal – New York Film Festival
  • Golden Gate Award
  • Gold Medal – New York International Film and Television Festival
  • ACT Award
  • Best Children's Production – Television Movie Awards[16]

Selected filmography[edit]

Director[edit]

Executive producer[edit]

Screenwriter[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Sanati, Maryam (1 January 1999). Toronto Life.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  2. ^ "The Fir Tree (1979) - Full cast and crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 20 February 2009. 
  3. ^ "Academy Award-Winning Actress Shirley MacLaine joins the cast of CTV's Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning". CTV News. 23 October 2007. 
  4. ^ "Kevin Sullivan". IMDb. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  5. ^ Allward, Suzanne (7 May 1983). TV Guide.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  6. ^ Atherton, Tony (3 April 1999). The Ottawa Citizen.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  7. ^ Brioux, Bill (December 2008). Starweek.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  8. ^ Knelman, Martin (March 1996). The Financial Post Magazine.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  9. ^ Marchand, Philip (31 July 2007). Toronto Star.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  10. ^ a b Atherton, Tony (6 January 1996). The Ottawa Citizen.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  11. ^ "Magic Flute Diaries (2008)". imdb.com. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  12. ^ Taylor, Kate (4 July 2006). Globe & Mail.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  13. ^ "Film delves into life of Mozart". Canada.com. 20 December 2008. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  14. ^ Dicks, Kathy (7 December 1996). The Newfoundland Herald.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  15. ^ Dobrzynski, Judith H. (25 January 2012). AJ Blog Central.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  16. ^ a b "Kevin Sullivan". IMDb. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  17. ^ John J. O'Connor (2 June 1989). "TV Weekend; A Coming-of-Age Film and Martin Short". New York Times.