Elvis Duran Group media strategist Steven Levine has been promoted to president of marketing and artist relations and is hitting the ground running, co-producing “Elvis Duran’s Drag Spectacular,” which is set to air on Tuesday night (July 21) on the Elvis Duran Show YouTube Channel.
Produced with syndicated radio personality Duran (pictured at left with Adele and Levine), the event is presented in partnership with Cynthia Germanotta, Lady Gaga’s mother, and will benefit the Born This Way Foundation and The Ali Forney Center. Donations from the show, which features LGBTQ icons Idina Menzel, Tituss Burgess, and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” host Michelle Visage as celebrity judges, will also benefit LGBTQ youth and volunteers for the Black Lives Matter movement. Since announcing the show in June, Duran has received hundreds of submissions from Drag Queens across the country. The top performances will be included in the program “to celebrate their contribution and art form with our audience,” Levine explains, with the Grand Prize winner taking home a $10,000 cash prize.
“As an openly gay music executive, I’m proud Elvis’ morning show has always been an advocate to many causes including, mental health, Veterans, suicide prevention, Black Lives Matter, and our unwavering support for our brothers and sisters within the LGBTQ communities,” Levine tells Variety.
As part of his new role, Levine will act as lead liaison for talent and “IHeartRadio’s Elvis Duran and the Morning Show,” which is nationally syndicated in over 80 markets and broadcast out of its home base in New York City. In addition, he’s also tasked with creating potential collaborations and producing additional visual and audio content for Duran’s daily show and is already in development on a television docuseries hosted by Duran.
Levine’s work ethic caught the eye of Ken Olin, director and executive of NBC’s “This is Us,” and his daughter Roxy Olin, head of AfterPortsmouth Productions, who are working to make the series a reality. Says Levine: “This is something I’ve dreamed of working on, and I’m beyond thrilled that Ken and Roxy see the potential and are willing to explore what we think will truly impact people’s lives through the power of music and it’s universal connection.”
“We loved Steven’s energy, tenacity, and vision.” adds Olin. “He’s inspired us to find a fresh and exciting way to unite the energy, variety, and emotion of today’s musical artists with the storytelling possibilities of television.”
Earlier this spring, Levine put that passion into helming “Elvis Duran’s Stay at Home Ball,” a virtual benefit concert on behalf of Project Cure to raise money for emergency medical supplies for healthcare workers around the US. The event featured more than 50 artists including Kesha, Charlie Puth, Jewel, Alessia Cara, Jason Derulo, Meghan Trainor, Lewis Capaldi and Thomas Rhett, and generated over 400,000 streams and 1 billion social media impressions. Not only did the benefit raise over $40,000, but it led to a major on-air coup, with Levine landing Duran an interview with Dr. Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General.
Steering Duran into new territories comes naturally to Levine. In Duran’s 2019 New York Times Best Seller, “Where Do I Begin?,” the morning show host devotes a chapter to Levine crediting him with pushing the radio veteran beyond his comfort zone and into other mediums like television. To that end, Levine launched a monthly feature on NBC’s TODAY show called “Elvis Duran’s Artist of The Month” championing musical artists like Alessia Cara, Todrick Hall, Tori Kelly, Austin Mahone, Alexander Jean, Lion Babe, Bebe Rexha, Zendaya, Labrinth, and A Great Big World.
“Steven Levine walked into studio 1-A and changed the room and I knew instantly that he had ‘IT,'” TODAY’s Hoda Kotb tells Variety. “He was with Elvis..and a musical artist.. but for some reason my eye was trained on Steven. Something about the guy… I just knew he was destined for even bigger things.”
That early experience with television stayed with Levine, who credits Kotb and then co-host Kathie Lee Gifford for taking a chance on his vision for Duran.
“I will always cherish the time we had with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, who’ve become dear friends, and have been supporters and have cheered me on since day one,” says Levine. “Tammy Filler, the executive producer at that time, was the first person that believed in our idea to bring new music to their viewers. … Our segment on NBC was truly what sparked my passion to continue producing music programming.”
Adds Kotb: “When I learned about his promotion — his climb up the next rung of the ladder — my initial thought was, ‘Well, of course.’ Steven is amazingly talented, has a way of connecting with strangers within minutes, and leaves a lasting impression. He left one on me.”