Docus to review century

Cabler taps top helmers for series

NEW YORK — To commemorate the millennium, cabler Showtime has lined up directors Norman Jewison, Barry Levinson, Garry Marshall, Gregory Nava, Robert Townsend and Robert Zemeckis to create feature-length documentaries that reflect on some of the influences that have shaped society over the past 100 years.

These filmmakers will direct and executive produce a collection of at least six documentaries, which will air throughout 1999 and will repeat in a marathon as the century officially draws to a close.

The docs will take on the topics of humor (Jewison), visions of the future (Levinson), marriage (Marshall), the melting pot (Nava), sex (Townsend) and drugs and alcohol (Zemeckis).

Showtime expects to sign up additional filmmakers for the project to be announced at a later date.

Subjective standpoint

“Rather than take a purely historical look at the past 100 years, we thought it would be interesting to have these directors, who have influenced the world with their films, present the 20th century from their own distinct viewpoints,” said Mark Zakarin, executive VP, original programming for Showtime Networks, who announced the project with Paul Villadolid, senior VP of specials and nonfiction programming, Buena Vista Television Prods.

The films will be produced by 5759 Prods. in association with Buena Vista Television Prods. Sandra Itkoff will executive produce the documentaries, and Lesli Klainberg will serve as supervising producer.

Villadolid said he believed that Buena Vista and Showtime were able to attract such a high caliber of directors because their millennium project is the only one to encourage a subjective approach to looking at the 20th century.

Credits are major

Jewison’s directing credits include “Moonstruck” and “In the Heat of the Night”; among Levinson’s films are “Diner” and “Wag the Dog”; Marshall’s resume includes “Pretty Woman” and “Beaches”; Nava has directed “Selena” and “El Norte”; Townsend is known for “Hollywood Shuffle” and “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka”; and Zemeckis has helmed “Forrest Gump” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

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