A Lifetime of television success

Feb 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

After 18 years as a writer and producer in the television industry, Deborah Joy LeVine has seen more than her share of success. Her most recent project is a series she created and is executive-producing for Lifetime Television. “The Division,” which premiered in January, achieved the highest ratings the network has seen in its 16-year history.
But Ms. LeVine has been in the industry long enough to know success can be fleeting. “In this business, you can’t get too cocky,” she said. “They say you’re only as good as your last script, and I think that’s true. You have to constantly produce good work. Otherwise, there’s somebody right behind you who can do it better.”
Ms. LeVine hasn’t rested on her laurels. While she is most widely known for creating and producing “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” she has worked on a number of hits as well as misses. She served as an executive producer on the pilot of The WB’s “Dawson’s Creek,” executive-produced and wrote several episodes for the first season of CBS’s “Early Edition” and was creator and executive producer of CBS’s short-lived “Courthouse” series.
Three years ago, Ms. LeVine produced Lifetime Television’s first dramatic series. The success of “Any Day Now” prompted a second Lifetime series. “The Division,” which chronicles the lives of female police officers, is currently shooting its 13th episode.
Trained as an attorney, Ms. LeVine started out in the business writing and producing movies of the week for television, mainly on socially relevant issues. “I’m most proud of things I have written that have effectuated change or have helped people,” she said. In 1992, she wrote “Something to Live For: The Alison Gertz Story,” about a woman who died of AIDS. On the night it aired, a message directed women to call a hotline for information on avoiding the disease. That night, 185,000 women called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
An upcoming episode of “The Division” will focus on gay bashing. Ms. LeVine hopes to broadcast another hotline number following that show. That’s one of the reasons Ms. LeVine has gravitated toward Lifetime. “They want to do socially relevant things, take on women’s issues and appeal to a more sophisticated audience,” she said. “They speak to me, and I speak to them.”
She admits, however, that coming to Lifetime was a bit of a culture shock. “I’m used to entering a conference room and being one of very few women,” she said. “At Lifetime, you enter the room and there are 50 women sitting around a conference room. It’s great. They’re smart women. They know their audience and know what their audience wants.”
For Ms. LeVine, the prospect of being involved in the building of a network is exciting. “Ten years from now, who knows? They may have programming on every day of the week and might become a contender with the other networks.” She wants to be there when that happens. “I hope they have me for the next 10 years,” she said.
Deborah Joy LeVine
Title: Executive producer, “The Division”
Age: “Age is just a number, and in this case it’s unlisted.”
Credits: “The Division,” creator, writer, executive producer; “Any Day Now,” executive producer; “Dawson’s Creek,” executive producer; “Early Edition,” executive producer; “Courthouse,” executive producer; “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” co-executive producer; “Something to Live For: The Alison Gertz Story,” writer; “Murder: By Reason of Insanity,” associate producer.