Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
Ico print Print | Ico email Email | Facebook | | RSS

10/7/11: Lynn Novick ’83


Lynn Novick ’83 has come a long way since the Civil War.

So have we all, you say—but that’s The Civil War, the PBS documentary that made Ken Burns a household name. Burns hired Novick, then 27 and learning her way around the documentary world, to help solve a last-minute crisis in finishing The Civil War. She so wowed him that Novick gained a permanent spot on the Burns filmmaking team, eventually becoming co-everything with Burns on this week’s opus, Prohibition.

Burns calls her “the fastest learner I have ever come across.” Before Prohibition, Novick co-directed Burns projects on Frank Lloyd Wright, World War II, and baseball (last year’s The Tenth Inning). And yet they are considered Burns projects.

“Ken’s light is very, very bright,” an associate tells the New York Times. “Lynn has equal billing in the film as director, and the sponsors say it’s a ‘Ken Burns film.’”

As for Prohibition—which Novick calls “an utterly relevant, cautionary tale about the dangers of believing there can ever be a quick fix for complex social problems”—PBS seems to be trying to break from the slow and somnolent Burns & Novick image. Touting the “sex, violence, unruly women and thugs with tommy guns,” the network has put out a Facebook game. (“Would you be an FBI agent, bootlegger, flapper, teetotaler or mobster? Get your personal Prohibition avatar.”) Still, word has it that the documentary will—like a bottle of bootleg whiskey—help you fall asleep.


Filed under movies, television
The comment period has expired.