ABC News Productions develops and produces a wide variety of programming for a number of cable TV networks. This includes a majority of biography programs and documentaries.
Emmy-award winning Executive Producer Lisa Zeff has been the driving force in making ABC News a major producer of nonfiction programming for leading US cable networks, as well as international and home video markets.
A senior executive combining business and editorial management skills with a hands-on responsibility for sales, she was brought in as the original Managing Director of News Productions at start-up, in 1994, and became Executive Producer and General Manager in 1998. Her programs have won nearly 100 awards over the past 10 years.
Ms. Zeff has been directly responsible for developing, pitching and producing over 700 hours of programming over the last decade. She oversees a staff of 60, while managing all aspects of business affairs, marketing, distribution and new business development for the unit.
Her body of work as Executive Producer includes highly prestigious, high-end programming, including THE TRIAL OF ADOLF EICHMANN for PBS which was nominated for an Emmy Award, 8 hours on the Vietnam War (TLC) and more than 200 episodes of BIOGRAPHY (for A&E). She also developed and oversaw two daily shows: LIFETIME LIVE, for Lifetime Television and SHE TV for the Discovery Health Channel.
Ms. Zeff was also responsible for creating the SAFETY CHALLENGE franchise with Court TV. Recent productions include the Emmy-winning documentary DECLASSIFIED: NIXON IN CHINA; the Emmy-nominated “WALL STREET” and the pop-nostalgia series “YEARBOOK” (all for the Discovery Channel) as well as the 2-hour program UNLOCKING THE DAVINCI CODE, which was the highest rated show to date to air on the National Geographic Channel.
Current projects range from the PBS documentary “Security Vs. Liberty: The Other War” for the “America at the Crossroads” series, to “Take My House, Please” a real estate series for TLC; “Wall Street Pros Vs. Average Joes” and “World’s Greatest Shopper”.
Prior to her current position, Ms. Zeff was Director of Development for reality-based programming at Time Warner Inc., responsible for developing new programming based on the entire roster of Time-Life magazines.
She was Senior Producer for LIFETIME MAGAZINE, a weekly broadcast produced by ABC News for the Lifetime Network, and for ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT REVUE, a weekly arts magazine show produced by KingWorld Productions for A&E.
Previously, Ms. Zeff received an Emmy Award for her work as Producer for ABC News’ long-form unit on the BURNING QUESTIONS series, and was one of the original Producers during the start-up of the ABC News magazine show PRIME TIME LIVE. She began her career as Assignment Editor in the network’s London bureau.
Jennifer Lawson is general manager of Howard University Television, WHUT-TV, a post she has held since June 2004.
For nine years prior to WHUT-TV, she headed an independent company where she co-produced AFRICA, an eight-hour television series, made in association with Thirteen, New York and National Geographic Television. The series premiered nationwide on PBS and internationally in over 130 countries to critical acclaim in September 2001. Lawson also produced the PBS site, THE AFRICAN AMERICAN WORLD.
From 1989 to 1995, Lawson was Executive Vice President, Programming and Promotion Services, PBS. She was public television's first chief programming executive and was responsible for the scheduling and promotional strategies that resulted in PBS's two most successful series, THE CIVIL WARand BASEBALL. She developed several highly regarded children's series includingBARNEY & FRIENDS, LAMB CHOP’S PLAY-ALONG, and WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO?which increased children's viewing of public television over 100% in three seasons and resulted in the most watched week in PBS history in January 1993.
Before joining PBS, she was director of the Television Program Fund at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting where she commissioned hundreds of successful programs. Prior to CPB, she was chief executive officer of The Film Fund, a New York foundation supporting independent filmmakers.She also taught film at Brooklyn College for three years, produced two documentaries, and worked as a screenwriter and children's book illustrator.
Lawson was recognized as one of "the 101 Most Influential People in Entertainment" in 1990 by Entertainment Weekly and as one of the "Power 50," or fifty most influential women in entertainment, by The Hollywood Reporter in 1994.She attended Tuskegee University and holds a master of fine arts degree in film production from Columbia University.
Ed is a documentary producer, director and writer whose work has appeared on PBS, ABC and other major networks. He is a three-time Emmy Award winner, a two-time winner of the Writers Guild of America Award, and a recipient of both the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the Edward R. Murrow Award.
Ed's most recent documentaries were made for the television unit of The New York Times and aired on the Discovery Times Channel. In 2005, he wrote and produced GETTING RICH, a one-hour episode in the 4-part series CHINA RISES. In 2004, he wrote and produced SOMEONE’S WATCHING, a two-hour examination of the rising use of electronic surveillance. In 2003, for the Discovery Channel, Ed produced THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN REPORTING: SEARCHING FOR THE ROOTS OF 9/11, in which the Pulitzer Prize-winning Times columnist explored the causes of Muslim anger at America.For PBS, Ed wrote and produced THROUGH MANY LIVES: THE AGING BRAIN, the final episode in David Grubin’s critically acclaimed series THE SECRET LIFE OF THE BRAIN. For PBS’s American Experience series, Ed wrote, and, with Janet Graham, produced and directed THE ORPHAN TRAINS, which tells the story of the little-known social experiment that sent tens of thousands of poor urban children to live with new families in rural America. For ABC News, he was senior producer and co-writer of PETER JENNINGS REPORTING: THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION – BEYOND CONSPIRACY.