Documentary filmmaker Michael Kirk has produced more than 200 national television programs. A former Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University, Kirk was the senior producer of FRONTLINE from the series’ inception in 1983 until the fall of 1987, when he created his own production company, the Kirk Documentary Group.
Kirk is the winner of every major award in journalism, including four Peabody Awards, three duPont-Columbia Awards, two George Polk Awards, 15 Emmy Awards, and 11 Writers Guild of America Awards.
Kirk is currently producing and directing a two-hour special examining Russian President Vladimir Putin, exploring his rise, rule and motivations (broadcasting October 25 and November 1 on FRONTLINE). Earlier this year, Kirk produced and directed Bannon’s War, the inside story of Trump adviser Stephen Bannon’s war -- with radical Islam, Washington and White House rivals; Trump’s Road to the White House, the inside story of how Donald Trump won the presidency, told by seven of Trump’s top campaign aides and the highest-ranking Clinton advisors; and the four-hour miniseries, Divided States of America — the epic chronicle of the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency woven against the backdrop of dramatic changes confronting the GOP, including the rise of Donald Trump.
In 2016, FRONTLINE aired three of Kirk’s films-- the two-hour election special The Choice 2016, (Writers Guild Award) the personal narrative and political history of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump; The Secret History of ISIS, the story of the many missed warning signs and the U.S. failures to stop the group’s brutal growth; and Netanyahu at War, an inside look at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political rise and his contentious relationship with Barack Obama.
In 2015, Kirk produced Secrets, Politics and Torture, the secret history of the CIA's controversial "enhanced interrogation" methods, and Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA (Emmy Award), an investigation into the NRA, its political evolution and influence, and how it has consistently succeeded in defeating new gun control legislation.
Other productions include:
Losing Iraq, a 90-minute film tracing the U.S. role in the Iraq war from the 2003 invasion to the violent rise of the radical jihadist group ISIS;
United States of Secrets: The Program (duPont-Columbia Award, Peabody Award, two Emmy Awards -- including Best Documentary, Writers Guild Award), the dramatic inside story of how the U.S. government came to monitor and collect the communications of millions of people around the world -- including ordinary Americans -- and the lengths they went to trying to hide the massive surveillance program from the public;
League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis (Peabody Award, George Polk Award, Writers Guild Award), a two-hour investigation revealing how, for years, the NFL worked to refute scientific evidence that the violent collisions at the heart of the game are linked to alarming incidences of early-onset dementia;
Cliffhanger, a look into the nation's fiscal crises and the inside history of how Washington has failed to solve the country's problems of debt and deficit;
The Choice 2012 (Writers Guild Award), the quadrennial FRONTLINE special that examines the political and personal biographies of presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney (he also produced the special in 2008, which featured Barack Obama and John McCain, and the 2000 version on George W. Bush and Al Gore);
Money, Power and Wall Street (Emmy Award, George Polk Award), the four-hour series that tells the inside story of the financial crisis;
Top Secret America (Writers Guild Award), a yearlong examination into the huge, unwieldy, top-secret world the government has created since 9/11;
Prior to Money, Power and Wall Street, he produced three other investigations of the 2008 financial crisis: the Emmy Award-winning The Warning, the unique story of a regulator's warning about the dangers of derivatives in the 1990s; Breaking the Bank, an inside look into the complicated financial and political web threatening Bank of America; and Inside the Meltdown, a major investigation into the collapse of the American economy.
In the spring of 2008 he produced, directed and wrote the four-and-a-half-hour, two-part special Bush's War, which won an Emmy and a Writers Guild Award.
He has produced ten films on the war on terror, including Cheney's Law (Peabody Award); Endgame; The Lost Year in Iraq (Emmy Award); Rumsfeld's War; The Torture Question (Emmy Award, Writers Guild Award); The Dark Side (Writers Guild Award); The War Behind Closed Doors, an analysis of the political infighting that led to the war with Iraq; and The Man Who Knew, the extraordinary saga of FBI Agent John O'Neill.
During Kirk's long relationship with FRONTLINE, he also made the Peabody Award-winning Waco — The Inside Story (1995), a behind-the-scenes look at the FBI siege of the Branch Davidian compound; and the Emmy Award-winning The Kevorkian File (1994), an in-depth examination of Dr. Jack Kevorkian's controversial record and cases.
In addition, Kirk produces programs focused on social and cultural issues in America. Death by Fire details the controversial case of one man at the center of the death penalty debate; Caring for Your Parents follows five families caring for their elderly parents; Navy Blues (Emmy Award) examines gender politics in the military; The Way the Music Died goes behind the scenes of the recording industry; and the groundbreaking Misunderstood Minds shares the personal stories of five families confronting the challenges of their children's learning disabilities, filmed over the course of two years.
Kirk frequently lectures on topics ranging from current events to issues confronting journalism. He has appeared on a number of television programs, including Morning Joe, Charlie Rose, the Today show, The O'Reilly Factor, CNN/MSNBC/FOX news programs, and hundreds of radio broadcasts, among them Fresh Air on National Public Radio.