David Leaf is a Peabody and WGAW award-winning writer, director and producer best known for his work in feature documentary, live event specials and a series of highly-regarded pop culture profiles and retrospectives. A ten-minute production highlights reel streams on his website at www.leafprod.com.
As a director, Leaf’s critically-acclaimed “The Night James Brown Saved Boston” had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival. Distributed outside North America by Fremantle, the film was also an official selection at 2008’s London’s Meltdown Festival and at festivals in Vienna, Prague and Barcelona.
His other feature documentaries as a writer/director/producer include “The U.S. vs. John Lennon” (distributed by Lionsgate) which had its world premiere at the 2006 Venice Film Festival and, for Showtime, the Grammy-nominated “BEAUTIFUL DREAMER: Brian Wilson and the Story of SMiLE” which was released theatrically in the UK.
Leaf’s television credits are highlighted by his 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 wrote and produced TNT’s “An-All Star Tribute To Brian Wilson”. Other music-related TV productions include “The Songwriters Hall of Fame” (Bravo), “The Score“ (a series for Trio), A&E’s “Live By Request” series “(four seasons), The Billboard Awards” (nine years, FOX), “Elvis: The Tribute” (ABC), “Carnegie Hall Salutes The Jazz Masters,” “We Love Ella” (PBS’ “Great Performances”), “Farm Aid” (CMT), PBS retrospectives on legendary vocal artists (Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, Rosemary Clooney, etc.) and the Emmy-nominated “Billy Joel: In His Own Words” (A&E).
Leaf’s work in comedy includes retrospectives on such legends as Jonathan Winters and the Marx Brothers, and Leaf has also written such network specials as “The Kennedy Center Honors” (CBS) for which he won a WGAW Award. 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).
As an author, Leaf wrote the best-selling authorized biography of the Bee Gees and the definitive Brian Wilson biography, The Beach Boys & The California Myth. Leaf also edited a book-length history of A&M Records and wrote the Beatles and Beach Boys chapters for Capitol Records 50th anniversary book. Among his other record industry credits, Leaf produced and wrote the book-length liner notes for the Grammy-nominated landmark collection, The Pet Sounds Sessions.
Most recently, Leaf wrote and produced two music pilots (“TUNESMITH: A Life In Song,” and “Sideman”) and, in 2011, wrote and produced the PBS special, “Buddy Holly: Listen to Me.” In 2010, he produced the theatrical release, “Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?” and in 2009, a four-hour documentary on Norman Lear’s television revolution for Sony’s multi-DVD set, “The Norman Lear TV Collection.”
Currently, Leaf is writing a play, has original screenplays in development for film and TV and continues to work on documentary, mockumentary and docu-series projects.
Since 2010, Leaf has been teaching undergraduate courses at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in documentary (“Docs That Rock, Docs That Matter”) songwriting (“SONGWRITERS ON SONGWRITING: Killer Hooks, Essential Songs & Songwriters of the Rock Era”) and has served as the intern supervisor for the Music Industry minor.