Steve Levitan ’84 is an Emmy Award–winning television director, producer, and writer, currently best known for his role as writer and executive producer of ABC TV’s Modern Family. After moving to Los Angeles shortly after graduating from UW-Madison, Levitan landed a spot on the writing team for the show Wings. He later went on to write and produce Frasier and the Larry Sanders Show. He also found success with the first show he created, Just Shoot Me!, which went into syndication and aired in 14 time slots in seven years.
Levitan’s company, Steven Levitan Productions, has produced the series Just Shoot Me!, Stark Raving Mad, Greg the Bunny, Oliver Beene, and Stacked. His numerous awards include an Emmy in 1996 as executive producer of Frasier as well as the Humanitas Prize in 1996 for the Frasier episode titled “Breaking the Ice.” Frasier also garnered a Producers Guild Award and a Television Critics Association Award.
But Modern Family has been Levitan’s favorite project. The show, he told On Wisconsin Magazine in 2011, “has been a dream situation, and it’s hard to imagine anything getting better than this.” Ironically, he told the magazine, the hardest class he took at UW-Madison was screenwriting. “It nearly killed me,” he said, and he never suspected at the time that it would end up being his career.
In 2010, Modern Family won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, as well as two other Emmys: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Eric Stonestreet, and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd. Levitan has also earned Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series nominations for Modern Family episodes “See You Next Fall” (2011) and “Baby on Board” (2012), winning the latter.
In a UW-Madison YouTube video, Levitan said that the university gave him the tools he needed to succeed, explaining that “it’s a big university, so you learn to take care of yourself.” In the old days, he said, during registration, “You had to get a map, and you had to know where to go, and kids were running around, and you’re trying to get the classes you wanted.” It was good preparation for life, he said, because “nobody hands you anything. You gotta go for it.”