From Shtetl to Stardom

Jews and Hollywood

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Vincent Brook, Michael Renov
The Jewish Role in American Life, An Annual Review
  • West Lafayette, IN: 
    Purdue University Press
    , December
     160 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


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 Mencreator 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.


About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Vincent Brook teaches media studies at UCLA, California State University, Los Angeles, and Loyola Marymount University. He has published numerous scholarly articles and six books, including four dealing with Jews and Hollywood: Something Ain’t Kosher Here: The Rise of the “Jewish” SitcomYou Should See Yourself: Jewish Identity in Postmodern American CultureDriven to Darkness: Jewish Émigré Directors and the Rise of Film Noir, and Woody on Rye: Jewishness in the Films and Plays of Woody Allen.

Michael Renov is Professor of Cinema and Media Studies and serves as Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Hollywood's Wartime Woman: Representation and Ideology and The Subject of Documentary, editor of Theorizing Documentary, and coeditor of Resolutions: Contemporary Video PracticesCollecting Visible EvidenceThe SAGE Handbook of Film Studies, and Cinema’s Alchemist: The Films of Péter Forgács.


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