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Lionel Chetwynd

Director, Screenwriter
(b. January 29, 1940 London, England)

Though he was a staunch leftist and dedicated union organizer in his youth and was nominated for an Academy Award®, Lionel Chetwynd has perhaps become best known recently as a dedicated right-wing activist in the Los Angeles film community. In 2001, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He has since been the creative force behind the hagiographic docudrama DC 9/11: Time of Crisis (2003) and Celsius 41.11: The Temperature at Which the Brain Begins to Die (2004) – a counter-attack on Michael Moore. TV writer-producer David E. Kelly once publicly referred to him as a “pariah.”

Chetwynd immigrated to Canada from Britain with his family in 1948 and grew up in Toronto and Montreal. After leaving school at the age of fourteen, he enlisted in the Black Watch, Royal Highland Regiment of Canada and later attended Sir George Williams (now Concordia) University in Montreal, where he graduated valedictorian. He was then awarded a scholarship to McGill University Law School and followed that with graduate studies in Law at Oxford University, where he was a champion debater. From 1968 to 1972, he worked for the London office of Columbia Pictures and, while still in England, began the screenplay adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s celebrated novel The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974), which he co-wrote with Richler. In addition to the Academy Award® nomination, their script won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Comedy.

Chetwynd wrote two other Canadian features – Goldenrod (1976) and Two Solitudes (1978), which he also directed – and is somewhat notorious for The Hanoi Hilton (1987), a film he wrote and directed that expresses many ideological beliefs inspired by his personal involvement with several Vietnam veterans’ associations.

More recently, he has worked almost exclusively for American television, specializing in historical dramas. He is the co-creator and executive producer of the National Desk public affairs special on PBS and has written a number of biblical re-enactments for cable television. A naturalized U.S. citizen who resides in California, he has also taught at New York University’s Graduate Film School, the Frederick Douglas Center in Harlem, the American Film Institute, Loyola-Marymount University and UCLA.

Film and video work includes

The Guest Room, 1973 (writer)
The Bridge, 1974 (writer)
Love of Life series, 1974 (writer; TV)
Beacon Hill series, 1975 (writer; TV)
Morning Comes, 1975 (director; writer)
The Adams Chronicles, 1976 (writer)
American Journey, 1976 (writer)
Goldenrod, 1976 (writer; producer)
It Happened One Christmas, 1977 (writer; TV)
Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye, 1977 (writer; producer; TV)
Two Solitudes, 1978 (director; writer)
Quintet, 1979 (original story with Robert Altman, Patricia Resnick)
Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper, 1981 (writer)
Miracle on Ice, 1981 (writer)
A Whale for the Killing, 1981 (writer)
Hot Touch, 1982 (writer)
Sadat, 1983 (writer; TV)
Children in the Crossfire, 1984 (writer; TV)
The Hanoi Hilton, 1987 (director; writer)
Evil in Clear River, 1988 (co-producer with Steve Tisch; TV)
To Heal a Nation, 1988 (writer; TV)
So Proudly We Hail, 1990 (director; writer; executive producer; TV)
The Heroes of Desert Storm, 1991 (writer; TV)
Fear in America, Reverse Angle series, 1992 (writer; executive producer; TV)
The Education Wars, Reverse Angle series, 1993 (writer; executive producer)
Doomsday Gun, 1994 (co-writer with Walter Bernstein)
Jacob: A TNT Bible Story, 1994 (writer; TV)
Falling from the Sky: Flight 174, 1995 (writer; TV)
Joseph: A TNT Bible Story, 1995 (writer; TV)
Kissinger and Nixon, 1995 (writer; executive producer; TV)
The Man Who Captured Eichmann, 1996 (writer; TV)
Moses, 1996 (writer; TV)
Ruby Ridge, An American Tragedy, 1996 (writer; TV)
The Human Bomb, 1997 (writer; TV)
National Desk series, 1997-2000 (writer, except for episode "Education in America"; co-executive producer with Norman Powell, Conrad Denke, Ted Steinberg; TV)
Color of Justice, 1998 (writer; producer; TV)
Tom Clancy's Net Force, 1998 (writer; TV)
P.T. Barnum, 1999 (writer; TV)
Varian's War, 2001 (director; writer; TV)
Darkness at High Noon: The Carl Foreman Documents, 2002 (director; writer; executive producer) American Valor, 2003 (writer; executive producer; TV)
Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story, 2003 (co-writer with Stanley Weiser; TV, uncredited)
DC 9/11: TIME OF CRISIS, 2004 (writer; producer)
Celsius 41.11: The Temperature at Which the Brain Begins to Die, 2004 (co-writer with Ted Steinberg; co-producer with Ted Steinberg)
Ike: Countdown to D-Day, 2004 (writer; executive producer; TV)