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About this product
- DescriptionHow did it happen that when American networks were run by Jewish men, and many television shows were written by Jewish writers, there were so few identifiably Jewish characters on television? In this examination, David Zurawik marshalls the evidence to suggest that, during television's first 35 years, its primarily Jewish power brokers actively suppressed Jewish characters and Jewish themes from appearing on the small screen. Beginning his investigation in the early days of television with Gertrude Berg and The Goldbergs , Zurawik shows how the Jewish founders of three major networks - William S. Paley (CBS), David Sarff (NBC) and Leonard Goldenson (ABC) - dictated the kinds of shows Americans would watch from the late 1940s until they sold their broadcast empires in the mid-1980s. Under the auspices of these powerful men, the television industry either distorted or eliminated images of Jews from prime time at the very moment when television came to hold centre stage in mainstream American life. Zurawik argues that Paley and the others were ambivalent about their own Jewishness, and fearful, in the post-Holocaust, pro-assimilation, red-baiting 1950s, lest their shows appear too Jewish . The ironic result: with few exceptions, shows like Father Kws Best and Leave it to Beaver came to represent American family life, while Jewish identity was presented as something that had to be obscured or hidden away. Only when the moguls sold their interest in the networks and moved on did things begin to change in a sustained way. But in many of the programmes that followed, particularly the sitcoms of the 1990s, Jewish men and Jewish women fell into stereotypical roles. Despite the best efforts of the successors of Paley, Sarff and Goldenson, the pattern of Jewish self-consciousness and censorship lives on in network television today. Based on more than 100 interviews gathered over ten years with network executives, producers and actors, Zurawik's study gives voice to these insiders - who reveal how and why the depiction of Jews on television has followed such a strange, unpredictable course.
- Author BiographyDavid Zurawik, whose Ph.D. is in American Studies, is the television critic for the Baltimore Sun and a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Goucher College.
- Author(s)David Zurawik
- PublisherUniversity Press of New England
- Date of Publication01/03/2003
- SubjectFilm, TV & Radio
- Series TitleBrandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture & Life
- Place of PublicationHanover
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintBrandeis University Press
- Content Note10 illus.
- Weight599 g
- Width152 mm
- Height229 mm
- Spine29 mm
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