Marty Kaplan is the Norman Lear Professor of Entertainment, Media and Society at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. He is the founding director of the School’s Norman Lear Center, a nonpartisan research and public policy center that “studies the social, political, economic and cultural impact of entertainment on the world.”
Kaplan’s expertise draws on his broad career in government and the entertainment industry. He was chief speechwriter to Vice President Walter F. Mondale and served as deputy campaign manager of Mondale’s 1984 presidential race, where he was responsible for policy, speechwriting, and research. He was an executive assistant to the U.S. Commissioner of Education Ernest L. Boyer, and his work in education policy continued through his roles as a program officer at the Aspen Institute, guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, and senior adviser at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Kaplan’s work in entertainment includes his 12 years with Walt Disney Studios, where Kaplan was vice president of production for live-action feature films and a writer-producer under exclusive contract. He wrote and executive produced the political comedy The Distinguished Gentleman, starring Eddie Murphy, adapted Michael Frayn’s play into the film Noises Off by Peter Bogdanovich, and was a writer on the action-adventure Max Q, produced for television by Jerry Bruckheimer.
His frequent appearances in the press include So What Else Is News?, the nationally-syndicated program about media, politics, and pop culture, that he created and hosted on Air America Radio. He has also been a featured commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered and Marketplace. His writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, where he has been a blogger since the website’s inception, and Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, where he is a columnist. He was deputy op-ed editor and columnist for the Washington Star and a commentator on the CBS Morning News. The Los Angeles Press Club recently acknowledged Kaplan with two awards, one of which was First Place for Best Columnist.
Kaplan graduated from Harvard with a degree in molecular biology. While at Harvard he was president of The Harvard Lampoon and the Signet Society and on the editorial boards of The Harvard Crimson and The Harvard Advocate. He received his Master’s degree in English at Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar and received a Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University as a Danforth Foundation Fellow.