The global youth brand MTV has chosen Sheila Nevins to head a new documentary division. Nicknamed the "doyenne of documentaries," Nevins, 80, was the president of HBO Documentary Films. With some 1,500 credits to her name, Nevins has won numerous Oscar, Emmy and Peabody Awards, including several lifetime achievement awards.
Nevins says she feels "lucky" to have landed the MTV job. "At my age, most people would think that I would be out to pasture, or that I would be gardening, or that I would be taking pictures of my grandchildren—of which I have none," Nevins says. "But I'm really not. I'm engaged in making a difference and will be until I lose it—and I haven't lost it yet."
Nevins brings an extremely broad palate to MTV, for both subject matter and style. She's executive produced biographical films on creative figures such as Robin Williams and Stephen Sondheim and true-crime dramas such as The Jinx about real estate heir Robert Durst and Paradise Lost about the West Memphis Three.
After years of declining ratings and ad revenue, MTV is undergoing a turnaround under president Chris McCarthy who hopes Nevins will bring up the next generation of filmmakers on his network.
He tells NPR he was a fan of Nevins long before he started working in media; he remembers watching HBO's unscripted, cinema verite-style series Taxicab Confessions as a kid growing up in Levittown, Pa.