From Shtetl to Stardom
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143 pages
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The outsized influence of Jews in American entertainment from the early days of Hollywood to the present has proved an endlessly fascinating and controversial topic, for Jews and non-Jews alike. From Shtetl to Stardom: Jews and Hollywood takes an exciting and innovative approach to this rich and complex material. Exploring the subject from a scholarly perspective as well as up close and personal, the book combines historical and theoretical analysis by leading academics in the field with inside information from prominent entertainment professionals. Essays range from Vincent Brook's survey of the stubbornly persistent canard of Jewish industry "control" to Lawrence Baron and Joel Rosenberg's panel presentations on the recent brouhaha over Ben Urwand's book alleging collaboration between Hollywood and Hitler. Case studies by Howard Rodman and Joshua Louis Moss examine a key Coen brothers film, A Serious Man (Rodman), and Jill Soloway's groundbreaking television series, Transparent (Moss). Jeffrey Shandler and Shaina Hamermann train their respective lenses on popular satirical comedians of yesteryear (Allan Sherman) and those currently all the rage (Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham, and Sarah Silverman). David Isaacs relates his years of agony and hilarity in the television comedy writers' room, and interviews include in-depth discussions by Ross Melnick with Laemmle Theatres owner Greg Laemmle (relative of Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle) and by Michael Renov with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. In all, From Shtetl to Stardom offers a uniquely multifaceted, multimediated, and up-to-the-minute account of the remarkable role Jews have played over the centuries and ongoing in American popular culture.

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Date de parution 15 décembre 2016
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781612494791
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0005€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

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From Shtetl to Stardom: Jews and Hollywood
The Jewish Role in American Life
An Annual Review of the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life
From Shtetl to Stardom: Jews and Hollywood
The Jewish Role in American Life
An Annual Review of the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life
Volume 14
Steven J. Ross, Editor Michael Renov and Vincent Brook, Guest Editors Lisa Ansell, Associate Editor
Published by the Purdue University Press for the USC Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life
© 2017
University of Southern California
Casden Institute for the
Study of the Jewish Role in American Life.
All rights reserved.
Production Editor , Marilyn Lundberg
Cover photo supplied by Thomas Wolf, www.foto.tw.de , as found on Wikimedia Commons .
Front cover vector art supplied by aarows/iStock/Thinkstock .
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-55753-763-8
ePDF ISBN: 978-1-61249-478-4
ePUB ISBN: 978-1-61249-479-1
KU ISBN: 978-1-55753-788-1
Published by Purdue University Press
West Lafayette, Indiana
www.thepress.purdue.edu
pupress@purdue.edu
Printed in the United States of America.
For subscription information,
call 1-800-247-6553
Contents
FOREWORD
EDITORIAL INTRODUCTION Michael Renov and Vincent Brook, Guest Editors
PART 1: HISTORIES
CHAPTER 1 Vincent Brook Still an Empire of Their Own: How Jews Remain Atop a Reinvented Hollywood
CHAPTER 2 Lawrence Baron and Joel Rosenberg, with a Coda by Vincent Brook The Ben Urwand Controversy: Exploring the Hollywood-Hitler Relationship
PART 2: CASE STUDIES
CHAPTER 3 Shaina Hammerman Dirty Jews: Amy Schumer and Other Vulgar Jewesses
CHAPTER 4 Joshua Louis Moss “The Woman Thing and the Jew Thing”: Transsexuality, Transcomedy, and the Legacy of Subversive Jewishness in Transparent
CHAPTER 5 Howard A. Rodman Eastern-European Fatalism in Minnesota: The Mournful Destinies of A Serious Man
CHAPTER 6 Jeffrey Shandler “If Jewish People Wrote All the Songs”: The Anti-Folklore of Allan Sherman
PART 3: UP-CLOSE AND PERSONAL
CHAPTER 7 David Isaacs Comedy and Corned Beef: The Genesis of the Sitcom Writing Room
CHAPTER 8 Ross Melnick The Faemmle Business: Laemmle Theaters, Los Angeles, and the Moviegoing Experience—An Interview with Bob and Greg Laemmle
CHAPTER 9 Michael Renov An Outsider’s View of Sixties America: Matthew Weiner Talks with Michael Renov about the Jews of Mad Men
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
ABOUT THE USC CASDEN INSTITUTE
Foreword
For all its fame, the history of Jewish Hollywood remains underwritten. Who could have imagined that the strange brew of movies made by Jews and censored by Catholics for a largely Protestant audience would change the world and have such a profound impact on the Jewish people? This issue of the Casden Annual, From Shtetl to Stardom: Jews and Hollywood , sheds fascinating new light on the roles—literally and figuratively—Jews and Judaism have played on the big and small screens, behind the scenes, and in running Hollywood.
Despite the fact that most studios during the Golden Age of Hollywood were run by Jews, many actors and actresses—whether by choice or because of studio pressure—hid their Jewish identity well into the twentieth century. During the 1930s and early 1940s, Nazis and fascist Silver Shirts in Los Angeles, and even several US Senators, delighted in writing articles and giving speeches exposing the real names of many of the nation’s most famous Jewish film stars: Emmanuel Goldenberg was Edward G. Robinson, Betty Joan Perske was Lauren Bacall, Asa Yoelson was Al Jolson, and Frederich Meshilem Meier Weisenfreund was Paul Muni.
As the volume’s Introduction notes, even after World War II and the revelation of the full extent of the Holocaust, many Jews inside and outside Hollywood continued to downplay their Jewishness. But, as several of the volume essays point out, Jews would eventually emerge from the shadows and make their ethnic identity very much part of their screen identity. From Woody Allen to Jerry Seinfeld to Jon Stewart to Amy Schumer, a new generation of performers celebrated what their elders avoided for decades, what Jon Stewart might call their “Jewy Jewsteiness.”
Vincent Brook and Michael Renov, the volume’s co-editors, have brought together a series of original, informative and provocative looks at the transformation of the film and television industries from their early days to the present. They divide their mosaic of evolving Judaism into three parts: Histories, Case Studies, and Up-Close and Personal. Taken together, these nine essays offer us fresh and exciting new looks at the ways in which Jews have shaped the nature of American entertainment.
Steven J. Ross, Myron and Marian Casden Director
Editorial Introduction
by Michael Renov and Vincent Brook, Guest Editors
Jews’ outsized contribution to American entertainment precedes their rise to prominence in the Hollywood movie studios. Spurred by their mass migration from Eastern Europe and Russia in the late 1800s, just as mass culture was emerging, immigrant and second-generation Jewish business owners, producers, and artists had already established themselves at the forefront of live theater and popular music by the time motion pictures caught on in the first decade of the twentieth century. Not until the paradigm shift in film production from the East Coast to Los Angeles in the 1910s, however, and cinema’s ascendance from lowbrow fare to cultural phenomenon and big business, did Jewish “control” of Hollywood become an open secret.
Once the “Jewish question” was broached, the movie moguls (the term “moguls” itself of antisemitic origin) reacted defensively, diverting attention from their newly mounted catbird seat while also making concessions to it. The avoidance included altering stereotypical Jewish stars’ names and appearances and eschewing, especially with the spike of American antisemitism in the 1930s, Jewish characters and themes; the concessions included appointing non-Jews to head in-house public relations and content-policing agencies. 1 The insecurity and defensiveness extended to organized Jewry, which from painful past experience, reasoned that flaunting Hollywood’s Jewishness, behind or on the screen, much less griping about antisemitic attitudes towards the industry or Jews in general, would only make matters worse. Even with their overall increased entry into the US mainstream after World War II and the lessons of the Holocaust, Jews inside and outside Hollywood continued to downplay Jewish industry influence, which now extended to the new medium of television as well.
In the wake of the identity politics movements of the 1960s and ’70s, which Jews joined with renewed vigor after Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, Jewish intellectuals began to tip-toe toward open acknowledgment of their co-religionists’ seminal place in popular culture. A few journal articles in the mid-1970s, by Howard Suber on Jewish characters in television, and by Tom Tugend on the early Hollywood moguls, were the first short-form pieces to crack the code of silence. They were followed a decade later by the first full-length books on the subject: Sarah Blacher Cohen’s anthology From Hester Street to Hollywood: The Jewish-American Stage and Screen (1983), Patricia Erens’ The Jew in American Cinema (1984), and Lester D. Friedman’s The Jew in American Film (1987). All these early “exposés,” however (except for Tugend’s four-page article), focused on Jewish representation on screen , leaving fuzzy the elephant in the room: the astonishing number of Jews (given their mere two percent of the US population) behind the scenes , creatively and most crucially, in ownership and executive positions. With the publication in 1989 of Neal Gabler’s An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood , the genie was finally out of the bottle—a refreshing end to the taboo for many Jews, renewed cause for alarm for others.
After all, here was a Jew unabashedly admitting, and documenting, what the anti-Semites had claimed all along. Moreover, in ascribing “imperial” designs to Hollywood’s Founding Fathers and crediting them with peddling an American Dream of their own concoction, Gabler seemed to be playing into the Jew-haters’ conspiracy-mongering hands. What he was actually doing, of course, was beating the bigots at their own game. Following the lead of identity political groups that had begun strategically turning pejorative labels into badges of honor—gay, black, even eventually Heeb—Gabler was owning, and proudly proclaiming, the profound imprint Jews, via Hollywood, had made on American society.
Dissension in Jewish ranks remained, however. In 1993, David Desser and Lester Friedman followed Gabler’s opus with an exploration of contemporary American Jewish directors. In a survey of over 170 presumed Jewish filmmakers (a remarkable number in itself), several of those contacted deemed the project “divisive because it separated Jews from the rest of American society.” 2 One accused the authors of providing “great ammunition for anti-Semites,” and a particularly annoyed respondent “expressed hope that he would not have to look forward to studies of American-Jewish physicists, harpists, pizza-makers, bookies, and pederasts” (34, 35).
The grousing of Hollywood insiders notwithstanding, the tide had clearly turned in Gabler’s favor in the public discourse and cultural practice. Steven Carr picked up where An Empire of Their Own left off in his 1994 doctoral dissertation (published in book form in 2001): The Hollywood Question: America and the Belief in Jewish Control of Motio

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