Marty Kaplan holds the Norman Lear chair at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, where he founded and directs the Norman Lear Center for the study of entertainment, media and society.
A native of Newark, New Jersey, he graduated summa cum laude in molecular biology from Harvard, where was president of the Harvard Lampoon and gave the English Oration at commencement. The winner of a Marshall scholarship, he got a First in English from Cambridge University. He holds the first Ph.D. conferred by Stanford University in modern thought and literature.
In the Carter Administration, Kaplan served as chief speechwriter to Vice President Walter F. Mondale. As deputy campaign manager of Mondale’s presidential race, he ran speechwriting, issues and research.
He worked at Walt Disney Studios for 12 years, as a vice president of production for live-action feature films, and then as a screenwriter. His film credits include “The Distinguished Gentleman,” a political comedy starring Eddie Murphy that he wrote and executive produced, and “Noises Off,” directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
Kaplan became a Senior Columnist at the Forward in 2018. As a columnist for the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, he won first place at the L.A. Press Club’s Southern California Journalism Awards six times since 2012.
He has been a frequent guest on television, radio, in print and online, including several appearances on Bill Moyers’s shows; as a featured blogger at HuffPo since its inception; and as a recurring commentator on the public radio programs All Things Considered and Marketplace. He also created and hosted “So What Else Is News?,” a nationally syndicated Air America Radio program examining media, politics and pop culture. He lives in Los Angeles.