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Marty Kaplan
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Marty Kaplan is the Norman Lear Professor of Entertainment, Media and Society at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. His uncommonly broad career has also spanned government and politics, the entertainment industry and journalism.

He served as chief speechwriter to Vice President Walter F. Mondale, and also as executive assistant to the U.S. Commissioner of Education, Ernest L. Boyer. As deputy campaign manager of Mondale’s presidential race, he directed the campaign’s speechwriting, issues, and research operations. He also worked with Boyer on education policy while a program officer at the Aspen Institute, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, and a senior advisor at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

He worked at Walt Disney Studios for 12 years, both as vice president of production for live-action feature films, and as a writer-producer under exclusive contract. He has credits on The Distinguished Gentleman, starring Eddie Murphy, a political comedy which he wrote and executive produced; Noises Off, a farce directed by Peter Bogdanovich, which he adapted for the screen from Michael Frayn’s play; and the action-adventure MAX Q, produced for TV by Jerry Bruckheimer.

He has been a blogger for The Huffington Post since its inception, and he is a columnist for the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. In 2013 his columns won First Place for print columnist at the LA Press Club's 55th annual Southern California Journalism Awards, and his entertainment columns won First Place at their National Entertainment Journalism Awards.

He created and hosted So What Else Is News?, the nationally-syndicated Air America Radio program examining media politics and pop culture. On public radio, he was a featured commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered (for which he also was the first guest co-host), and on Marketplace, where his beat was the business of entertainment. He was also deputy op-ed editor and a columnist for the Washington Star and a commentator on the CBS Morning News.

He was associate dean of the USC Annenberg School for 10 years and is the founding director of the School’s Norman Lear Center, whose mission is to study and shape the impact of media and entertainment on society.

He graduated from Harvard College summa cum laude in molecular biology, where he was president of the Harvard Lampoon and of the Signet Society. The recipient of a Marshall Scholarship from the British government, he received a Master’s degree in English with First Class Honours from Cambridge University in England. As a Danforth Foundation Fellow, he received a Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University.

Entries by Marty Kaplan

Forget Brexit. Remember Rain.

(0) Comments | Posted June 27, 2016 | 1:04 PM

I was startled to see Laura Haim's face on TV. It made sense that she'd be on cable news last week; as White House correspondent for the French network Canal Plus, she was well placed to tell Americans the French reaction to Brexit. What brought me up short was that...

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How To Tragedy

(22) Comments | Posted June 13, 2016 | 7:58 AM

This is what you do when it all goes to hell again.

You casually turn the television on while the coffee water boils, but the news punches you in the gut and takes your breath away.

You instantly revise the whole history of the world in order to make the...

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Why Trump is Velcro, Not Teflon (and How That Helps Him in the Age of Reality TV)

(16) Comments | Posted May 31, 2016 | 1:20 PM

If there were a Pulitzer Prize for getting the best quote from a random person at a political event, it would have to go to Yamiche Alcindor, the New York Times reporter on the Bernie Sanders beat.

The winning quote comes from Victor Vizcarra, 45, of Los Angeles. At a...

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Let Trump Be #NeverTrump

(12) Comments | Posted May 16, 2016 | 4:09 PM

I bet a friend dinner that Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination. Now I need to decide whether to bet a bottle of wine that Trump will beat Hillary Clinton. What I take from the tightening polls is that either side could win, a prospect that terrifies me, and...

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Spiritual, But Not Religious, But Not Woo-Woo

(17) Comments | Posted April 18, 2016 | 2:20 PM

Years ago, a few days before Passover and a few days after we moved into the house where our children would grow up, I ran into one of my new neighbors, Mr. M----. We'd met on moving day, but I'd been too crazed dealing with boxes to more than shake...

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Attention Must Be Paid (Except to Climate Change)

(28) Comments | Posted April 1, 2016 | 8:03 PM

A bombshell dropped the other day. But if nobody heard it explode, did that make it a dud?

This is from a news story on Thursday: "We are not saying this is definitely going to happen. But there's a danger, and it should receive a lot more attention."

...
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Is Campaign News Necessary?

(6) Comments | Posted March 21, 2016 | 4:06 PM

Last week, Gallup asked Americans if they were watching news about the presidential campaign "very closely." Four out of 10 said yes. I'm one of them. That's crazy. Are you one of them? That's crazy, too.

There are plenty of high-minded reasons to follow campaign news. It informs...

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I Saw Trump's Li'l Donald. Believe Me.

(18) Comments | Posted March 7, 2016 | 9:22 AM

"Do you like what you see?" Donald Trump asked me.

True story -- as true as those thousands and thousands of Muslims in Jersey City, New Jersey he saw cheering on TV as the World Trade Center came tumbling down.

It happened at Mar-a-Lago, not long after Trump bought the...

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Clinton Needs Sanders' Single Issue

(46) Comments | Posted February 22, 2016 | 2:00 PM

Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee for president, and Donald Trump is going to be the Republican. But unless she signs on to Bernie Sanders' message, she may not be able to beat Trump, and even if she does, without the mandate and the Congress that running...

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Being Mortal Is a B*tch

(10) Comments | Posted February 8, 2016 | 3:04 PM

David Wichs was walking to work in TriBeCa last Friday morning when a 565-foot construction crane toppled onto Worth Street and killed him. He was 38.

I didn't know him -- I saw it in the paper. Workers had been lowering the crane as a precaution from wind gusts...

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The Idiocy of the Iowa Caucuses

(16) Comments | Posted January 25, 2016 | 5:06 PM

What were we thinking?

If we're lucky, the day will come when we look back at the Iowa caucuses and the quadrennial carnival they inaugurate with the same embarrassed horror we now feel for duck-and-cover as a safety drill for nuclear war.

What a dangerous distraction the Iowa spectacle has...

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Professor, You're Fired! Or, the Education of a Trump Voter

(42) Comments | Posted January 11, 2016 | 3:06 PM

@marty kaplan Let me guess Marty you believe in global warming too Doctoral degree holder here

There it was, captured in a single sad, hilarious tweet: the whole maddening trainwreck of American democracy, 2016.

Two days before that taunt from someone I don't know was launched into the twitterverse,...

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The 7 Stages of Too Much Trump Media Disorder

(93) Comments | Posted December 28, 2015 | 1:20 PM

A news binge, not a booze binge, is why you'll be starting the New Year with a civic hangover. You've been watching too much TV, and TV has been watching too much Donald Trump.

It's not your fault. You thought you were just doing your good government due diligence...

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The Terrorists' 6-Month-Old

(9) Comments | Posted December 7, 2015 | 12:22 PM

Think about the day she finds out who her parents were.

For a while, all she'll know is that yes, she did have a mommy and daddy, but they died. But one day, whoever is then caring for her may be unable to avoid telling her the rest of...

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Jihadism Is Not Nihilism

(8) Comments | Posted November 20, 2015 | 3:27 PM

In the partisan battle over describing the Islamic State, Democrats have fastened on a philosophical term from 19th century European intellectual history. They're being too clever by half.

"Extremist nihilism" is what Barack Obama has called ISIS's ideology. In the second Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton labeled...

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For Whom the Polls Toll

(7) Comments | Posted November 9, 2015 | 1:20 PM

The horserace polls dominating today's political news are worse than misleading -- they're bad for democracy. They're as corrosive for America's self-image as the news industry's obsession with murder and disaster, a black hole wildly unwarranted by actual crime and catastrophe. They're as toxic to our spirit as the advertising...

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GOP Donors to Euthanize Jeb Bush

(42) Comments | Posted October 29, 2015 | 8:24 AM

"It's the humane thing to do," said a participant following an emergency donor class conference call following the CNBC Republican debate in Boulder, Colo. "After Jeb criticized Rubio's attendance record, and Rubio broke his legs, you could just see it in his eyes," said the billionaire super PAC contributor, who...

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The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Candidate

(16) Comments | Posted October 26, 2015 | 2:55 PM

"End this notion that the enemy is the other party. End this notion that it is naïve to think we can speak well of the other party. What is naïve is to think it is remotely possible to govern this country unless we can."

The speaker was Joe Biden. Along...

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Ben Carson, the Nutty Neurosurgeon

(0) Comments | Posted October 8, 2015 | 8:16 PM

What does it say about higher education that you can graduate from Yale and still believe that the devil made Darwin do it? What does it say about medicine that you can both be a gifted neurosurgeon and also declare, "I never saw a body with...

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Cock-and-Bull Candidates

(53) Comments | Posted September 28, 2015 | 11:54 PM

Did you make it through Sunday's lunar eclipse okay?

When the moon turned blood red, I bet you didn't shake spears at it, or beat your dogs to make them bark, as the Incas did to scare away the jaguar that had swallowed the moon. I also bet you...

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