Alpena Reads 2018

Emmy and Peabody Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker

  Lynn Novick

Lynn Novick was a research assistant at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History before beginning her film career as a production assistant at WNET, a public television station in Manhattan. She then worked on Bill Moyers' projects Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth and A World of Ideas with Bill Moyers before moving to Florentine Films in 1989 to work on Burns’s 1990 series, The Civil War, as associate producer for post production.


In 1994, she produced Burns’s nine-part series, Baseball, (1994) for which she received an Emmy Award. In 1998, she was director and producer (with Burns) of two-part biographical documentary, Frank Lloyd Wright, for which she received a Peabody Award. In 2001, Novick produced Burns’s 10-part series, JazzAmong her most recent collaborations with Burns are The War (2007), Baseball: The Tenth Inning (2010). and Prohibition (2011).


Her latest collaboration was an 18-hour documentary film series, The Vietnam War, with Burns and Geoffrey Ward, which aired in September 2017. 


The Vietnam War, produced by Sarah Botstein, Novick and Burns, and written by Geoffrey C. Ward, received widespread critical acclaim and was seen by nearly 50 million viewers in the USA as well as millions more in nearly 100 countries. A groundbreaking 360-degree exploration of the conflict, the series features testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as dozens of Vietnamese combatants and civilians from the winning and losing sides.



Novick is working on several projects. She is directing College Behind Bars (working title), a contemporary documentary produced by Sarah Botstein, Salimah El-Amin and Mariah Doran. Ken Burns is executive producer. The film, four years in the making, follows the lives of a group of men and women imprisoned in New York State for serious crimes, struggling to earn degrees in one of the most rigorous liberal arts college programs in America – the Bard Prison Initiative. College Behind Bars asks several essential questions: What is prison for? Who in America has access to educational opportunity? Can we have justice without redemption? It will air on PBS in 2019.

Novick and Burns are currently collaborating on a two part biography of Ernest Hemingway slated for PBS broadcast in 2020, a series about the presidency of Lyndon Johnson and a series on the history of crime and punishment in America. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Yale and lives in New York City.

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