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David Leaf

David Leaf (born April 20, 1952) is an American writer, producer, and director known for documentaries, music programs, and pop culture retrospectives. Among his best-known documentaries are "The Night James Brown Saved Boston" (2008), "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" (2006), "Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and the Story of Smile" (2004), and "Bee Gees: This Is Where I Came In" (2001).

Leaf's television credits include being one of the Emmy-nominated (and Peabody Award-winning) writers on September, 2001’s landmark all-network telethon "America: A Tribute to Heroes". That same year, Leaf was a producer of the Emmy-nominated "Billy Joel: In His Own Words" (A&E).

Other music-related TV productions include A&E’s "Live By Request" television series (three seasons), "The Score" (a limited series for Trio), "The Songwriters Hall of Fame" (2 years, Bravo), "The Billboard Awards" (nine years, FOX), "An-All Star Tribute To Brian Wilson" (TNT), "Elvis: The Tribute" (ABC), "Carnegie Hall Salutes The Jazz Masters", "We Love Ella" (PBS' "Great Performances"), "Farm Aid" (CMT), and a series of retrospectives on legendary pop artists (Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Dean Martin, et al.) for PBS. He has also written such network specials as "The Kennedy Center Honors" (CBS) for which he won a WGAW Award, and his solo writing/producing/directing projects include "You Can't Do That: The Making Of 'A Hard Day's Night'", "Martin & Lewis: Their Golden Age of Comedy" (for Disney), and "Lassie, Unleashed" (Broadway Video/ABC).

Leaf's most recent work in non-fiction includes: a four-hour documentary on Norman Lear’s television revolution (2009- Sony), the feature documentary "Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?" (2010) and the 2011 PBS special, "Buddy Holly: Listen to Me". Leaf also wrote/directed/produced two pilot about the art and craft of making music, "TUNESMITH: A Life In Song" and "Sideman".

In the publishing world, Leaf has written the best-selling authorized biography of the Bee Gees, and also edited a book-length history of A&M Records. He wrote the Beatles and the Beach Boys chapters for Capitol Records 50th anniversary book, and also wrote "The Beach Boys and The California Myth"[1] (1978), considered by many to be the definitive biography of Brian Wilson.

Since 2010, Leaf has been an adjunct professor at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Leaf's undergraduate courses were in music documentary ("Docs That Rock, Docs That Matter") and songwriting ("SONGWRITERS ON SONGWRITING: Killer Hooks, Essential Songs & Songwriters of the Rock Era").

A highlights reel of Leaf’s work can be seen at his website,


External links

Ep #33: Reviews - Hereafter, Carlos. Interview with David Leaf.