People On The Move - Stacey Levin
Annadale native Stacey Levin knew she had made it in Hollywood when she had to pinch herself while at an entertainment industry party. “In front of me an actor from 7th Heaven was dancing on a table,” she confided with glee. “On the other side of me sat Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.” Her start in Tinseltown was not for the faint of heart – it took a lot of initiative and luck.
Now the Senior Vice President of Development at IM Global Television, Levin is charged with growing the firm’s newly established television division. As a TV producer, her duties include looking for new show ideas, finding writers, listening to pitches, reading lots of scripts, selling shows to networks, hiring actors, and overseeing the day to day operation of a TV show once it’s green lit and in production.
Her passion for showbiz started at the burgeoning age of 9, after her mother Eileen forbid her from going to see Grease 2, judging it too risqué. However, thanks to her father Bob, her family owned a Wometco Home Theater descrambling box, a subscription-based television service like modern day cable. One of the monthly movies was Grease 2. “I put a cassette recorder up to the box and taped the audio of the movie, then I wrote it out on a yellow legal pad”, Levin explained. With a Grease 2 script now in her young hands, she conjured up a way to bring the production to life. She gave out parts to friends, built a stage out of snow, and sculpted snow seats so that family and friends could come watch the performance.
Her behind-the-scenes Hollywood obsession grew even stronger while studying Communication at Rutgers. She sought out internships on several ABC soap operas. “At that time, soaps were the only scripted TV happening in New York,” Levin recalls.
Once out of college, her first several jobs on her way to becoming a producer were in publicity. By the age of 27, she had built a name for herself as a top children’s TV publicist. “I then worked a little bit for MTV and Viacom, flirting with TV development and producing but not quite in it yet.” She made the decision to quit her job and move to Los Angeles. When her plane landed at LAX she knew only five people. It turns out all she needed to know was one, a friend who worked at 20th Century Fox Television who helped her get a publicity gig on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, filling in for a publicist out on maternity leave.
At Fox she settled into her new role, where her days were filled with moments like corralling Liza Minnelli from a television set backstage for press interviews. That was until the day she went to lunch with the head of 20th Century Fox TV, where Levin spoke of her desire to get into TV development and production.
That lunch date led to the opportunity for her to switch from Publicity to Current Programming at Fox TV. There she supervised the production of critically acclaimed shows like Modern Family and Arrested Development. After Fox TV, her next two producing roles included Nicholas Sparks Productions, the company behind the romantic drama The Notebook, and Valhalla Entertainment, best known for creating The Walking Dead.
In between spending time putting TV shows together, she finds the time to fly back East to visit her mom, who still lives in her childhood home. Her first stop when back in Staten Island is the Annadale Diner, then she’s off to the Staten Island Mall and then into the city to see a Broadway show or two or three.
Her advice for young Staten Islanders wanting to follow in her footsteps is to find as many internships as you can. “It’s hard fitting them around classes and working for free,” she explains. “But internships are the best way to learn how to become a professional.”
If you ask her what her next act is, she says, “It’s putting up a Broadway show, writing it, directing it, and getting it off the ground.” As she puts it, “I am so moved by the talent level of actors on Broadway.” Levin feels so lucky to wake up every morning jazzed to have an occupation that makes people happy.
FAVORITE RESTAURANT SI
Villa Monte on Richmond Ave.
FAVORITE RESTAURANT LA
Boa Steakhouse on Sunset Blvd.
FAVORITE TV SHOW
American Horror Story
THREE PEOPLE TO HAVE DINNER WITH
Steven Spielberg, Madonna, Hillary Clinton