Return to tiff.’s home page

Canadian Film Encyclopedia

Shopping Cart

Douglas Leiterman

Director, Producer
(b. January 1, 1927 South Porcupine, Ontario)

A major creative talent of the sixties, Douglas Leiterman (in partnership with Patrick Watson) created and produced the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s seminal public affairs programme This Hour Has Seven Days, which has repeatedly been cited as the most exciting and innovative public affairs series of its kind in the history of Canadian television. He also produced the recurring Document series for the CBC – and directed several episodes, often with Beryl Fox – and is responsible for some of the most insightful documentaries made in Canada during the turbulent sixties.

As the co-producer of This Hour Has Seven Days, Leiterman assigned, oversaw and, in many cases, nurtured the work of a talented stable of filmmakers who would all make significant contributions to English-Canadian documentary and fiction filmmaking: Fox, Donald Brittain, Allan King, Daryl Duke, Peter Pearson, Alexander Ross and Larry Zolf. His younger brother – cinematographer Richard Leiterman – got an early break in his career as a cameraman on films with Fox and Allan King for Seven Days.

Leiterman, who consistently argued against the prevailing CBC journalistic ideology of strict objectivity and "studious neutrality," eventually ran afoul of management and was forced to retire from the CBC after the hugely popular show was cancelled in May of 1966. The cancellation – and the firing of Watson and Laurie LaPierre, the show’s co-host – was met with a massive public outcry that resulted in a Parliamentary inquiry – which, for a time, made Leiterman, Watson and LaPierre public heroes.

Born in the mining community of South Porcupine, Ontario, Leiterman studied economics at the University of British Columbia and obtained a Master’s degree in law from Harvard University, where he was a Neiman Fellow. In 1954, he began working as a reporter for Southam News Service’s Ottawa bureau; three years later he moved to the CBC, where he launched his television career as a correspondent and story editor on the public affairs series Close-Up. Following his forced retirement from Seven Days, he moved to New York where he worked for CBC Reports and CBS-TV News and also formed Document Associates. He returned to Toronto in 1968, founded Hobel-Leiterman Productions, and produced numerous documentaries and series for television, though none had the impact of his earlier work.

Film and video work includes

Close-Up, series, 1957-1961 (co-producer and/or co-director; co-writer; co-editor; co-reporter; co-host; TV, 101 episodes)
The Critical Years: Forty Million Shoes, Background series, 1961 (director; producer; TV)
The Critical Years: The United Nations in Peril, Background series, 1962 (director; producer; TV)
The Critical Years: The Pursuit of Happiness, Background series, 1962 (executive producer; TV)
The Servant of All, Background series, 1962 (producer; TV)
Document, series, 1962-1969 (co-producer and/or co-executive producer with Patrick Watson, Richard Nielsen; TV)
This Hour Has Seven Days, series, 1964-1966 (co-executive producer with Patrick Watson; TV, 50 episodes)
Strike! Men Against Computers, Document series, 1965 (producer; TV)
Youth: In Search of Morality, Human Camera series, 1966 (producer; TV)
The Democrats in '66, 1966 (director; producer; TV)
The Old College Try, 1967 (producer; TV)
From Harlem to Sugar Hill, 1968 (director; TV)
Resurrection City, 1968 (producer; TV)
Fasten Your Seatbelts: A Report on Airline Safety, 1968 (director; producer; TV)
Man at the Centre - Escher, 1969 (producer; TV)
The Fabulous Sixties, series, 1969 (producer; TV)
Face to Face to Face, 1969 (producer)
The Takeover Game - An Investigative Report, 1972 (writer; co-producer with Philip S. Hobel; narrator; TV)
Tuesday Night, 1972 (co-producer and co-reporter with Philip S. Hobel; TV)
Villes de demain, Vers l'an 2000 series, 1972 (co-producer with Philip S. Hobel; TV)
Les Média: Un massage de cerveaux, Vers l'an 2000 series, 1972 (co-producer with Philip S. Hobel; TV)
Here Come the Seventies, series, 1970-1973 (co-producer and/or co-executive producer with Philip S. Hobel; TV)
The Seasons, series, 1973 (co-producer with Philip S. Hobel; TV, multiple episodes)
Human Resources, series, 1973 (co-producer with Philip S. Hobel; TV)
Men of the Fleet, 1973 (director; co-producer with Philip S. Hobel)
L'Éducation: La Fin des professeurs, Déja demain series, 1976 (co-producer with Philip S. Hobel; TV)
Psychologie nouvelle connais-toi, toi-mLme, Déja demain series, 1976 (co-producer with Philip S. Hobel; TV)
Les États-Unis d'Europe: Equilibrer le monde, Deja demain series, 1976 (co-producer with Philip S. Hobel; TV)
Communications of the Future, 1978, (co-executive producer with Philip S. Hobel)
Margaret Mead Looks at the Family, 1978 (co-producer with Philip S. Hobel)
Review of the Sixties, 1978 (co-producer with Philip S. Hobel; TV)
Surfacing, 1981 (co-producer with Beryl Fox, Philip S. Hobel)
The Sensational Seventies, series, 1980 (co-producer with Philip S. Hobel; TV)
By Design, 1982 (co-executive producer with Louis M. Silverstein)
Millennium, 1988 (co-producer with Robert Vince)
Decades, 1989 (co-executive producer with Philip S. Hobel; TV)
Termini Station, 1989 (executive producer)