Every Journalist’s Dream: Going from Newsprint to the Silver Screen

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013, 6:30-8pm
Rennert Hall, Kraft Center 606 West 115th Street, New York, NY 10025


Please join the IRCPL and Columbia Journalism School for “Gangster Reality and Gangster Films: A mass culture case study in the real v. the fake,” a talk by Paul Lieberman.


The Gangster Story is the dark flipside of America’s driving Horatio Alger Myth, the rags-to-riches rise set in the criminal realm, with a spectacular demise the required ending in this twist on the great fable of individual success. Few writers have a better perspective on the phenomenon than Paul Lieberman, who has tracked various forms of organized crime for decades. He is the author of the book “Gangster Squad,” an epic account of the secretive (and real life) police squad tasked with driving the mob from Los Angeles after World War II…a work then turned into a multiplex action film starring Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone, and with Sean Penn as L.A.’s signature gangster, Mickey Cohen. The nonfiction book is a classic tale of the Noir Era that still defines the so-called City of Angels, a time when truth was not found in the sunshine and justice not obtained in a marble courthouse — indeed, Los Angeles goes half a century without a single conviction in a mob murder. The Warner Bros. film version of “Gangster Squad,” in contrast, is a big budget good-guys-v.-bad adventure with an oversized villain, as critics have noted, in the mold of the Batman and James Bond franchises. What gives?

Read Paul Lieberman’s article, “Leapfrogging the Book: A Newspaper Story Jumps to Film” here.

Co-sponsored by the Institute of Religion, Culture, and Public Life and the Columbia Journalism School.


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