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Neal Gabler    

Author, Cultural Historian and Television Commentator

Neal Gabler is a distinguished author, cultural historian and television commentator who has been called “one of America’s most important public intellectuals.” His first book, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History and the Theatre Library Association Award for the best book on television, radio or film. On the centenary of the first public exhibition of motion pictures in America, a special panel of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences named it one of the one hundred outstanding books on the American film industry. His second book, Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named the non-fiction book of the year by Time Magazine. His third book, Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality, is currently being used in college courses across the country to examine the convergence of reality and entertainment. His fourth book, Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, a New York Times best-seller, was named the biography of the year by USA Today and won Mr. Gabler his second Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was also the runner-up for the prestigious Kraszna-Krausz Book Award in England. His latest book, Barbra Streisand: Redefining Beauty, Femininity and Power, published recently by Yale University Press as part of its Jewish Lives series, was called “a spirited and entertaining cultural appreciation” by the New York Times.

Mr. Gabler was graduated with high distinction and highest honors from the University of Michigan and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He holds advanced degrees in film and American Culture. He has also taught at the University of Michigan, where he won an outstanding teaching award, and at the Pennsylvania State University. Leaving academe, he was selected to replace departing co-hosts Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel on the public television movie review program, “Sneak Previews.” He has also been the host of the American Movie Classics cable television network, of “Reel to Real” on the History Channel, and of “Reel Thirteen” on WNET, the public television station in New York, for which he won an Emmy.

Mr. Gabler has been a contributing editor at Playboy and a regular contributor to the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and Reuters Opinion, and his essays and articles have appeared in Atlantic, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, The Nation, The New Republic, Men’s Journal, George, Time, TV Guide, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and many other publications. In 2014, he won the National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award from the Los Angeles Press Club. He has also been a contributor to the Fox News Channel and served as a panelist on the weekly media review program “Fox News Watch” from 2002 to 2007. One television critic called him a “megawatt brain…whose take on media coverage was fiercely individualistic, profound and original.” He has made appearances on “The Today Show,” “CBS Morning News,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “Charlie Rose” and the PBS “NewsHour.” From 2016 to 2017, he contributed a weekly column to His post-election piece, “Farewell, America,” was read by more than three million people.

Mr. Gabler has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Shorenstein Fellowship at Harvard University, a Freedom Forum Fellowship, and was a Woodrow Wilson Public Policy Scholar. He has also been the chief non-fiction judge of the National Book Awards and a judge of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He is currently a senior fellow at the Norman Lear Center for the Study of Society and Entertainment at the University of Southern California and is a Visiting Professor in the MFA Literature and Writing program at SUNY Stony Brook. He was also the 2013 recipient of the Patrick Henry Writing Fellowship at Washington College. His older daughter Laurel was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford where she received her doctorate in Public Health and is a graduate of Harvard Medical School. She is currently a resident at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. His younger daughter Tanne taught in the World Teach program in American Samoa, was an AmeriCorps volunteer, received her social work degree from the University of Texas, and is currently a licensed clinical social worker in Washington D.C. specializing in at-risk children. Mr. Gabler is now writing a book on the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and the course of modern American liberalism to be published by the Harmony/Crown division of Random House.

Speech Topics

The Business Secrets of Walt Disney

If ever there were a business genius who violated everything they teach in business school, Walt Disney was it. In this lecture, Neal Gabler describes how Disney turned a one-person animation company into a world empire by breaking all the rules.

The Art of Biography

In this entertaining and anecdote-filled lecture, Neal Gabler describes the biographical process from selecting a subject to finding papers to hunting down interviewees to organizing material to writing the book itself.

The Making of the President 2012

Noted author and cultural commentator, Neal Gabler handicaps the 2012 presidential race by examining how the American people are electing not a commander-in-chief but a protagonist-in-chief to star in the national movie. This is an entirely different approach to American politics.

How the Jews Invented Hollywood

Neal Gabler, the author of the classic book, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, describes how a group of Eastern European Jewish immigrants founded and ran the industry that largely defined American values and images.

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