Paul Lieberman is the author of Gangster Squad and was executive producer of the Warner Bros. film of the same name starring Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. He spent more than a decade tracking down surviving members of the secretive Los Angeles police squad given the job of driving Mickey Cohen and other hoodlums out of L.A. in the years after World War II, the Noir era that still defines the so-called City of Angels.
Lieberman worked for 24 years as an editor and writer for the Los Angeles Times and before that as Projects Editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has specialized in long-term investigations into topics as diverse as a hospital serial killer (“The Graveyard Shift”), a bungled effort by the Boston mob to infiltrate Hollywood (“The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight”), and how heiress Doris Duke came to leave her fortune in the hands of her butler (“Seeking the Soul of the Billion Dollar Butler”). He also spent a decade as the Los Angeles Times’ New York-based roving cultural correspondent—exploring film, the fine arts and popular culture. His work has won dozens of honors, including the Robert F. Kennedy Awards Grand Prize, the George Polk Award and a Gerald Loeb Award. He also shared in two team Pulitzer Prizes at the Times, as a writer on its coverage of the Los Angeles riots and as an editor of its reporting on the Northridge earthquake.
A native New Yorker, Lieberman is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Williams College and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, where he studied law and social history. He lives in Westchester County, New York with his wife Heidi, an elementary school principal.
Watch Paul Lieberman tell the story of Gangster Squad on MSNBC’s Morning Joe
Read a Q&A with Paul Lieberman in The Huffington Post
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SPEECHESThe Real-Life Gangster Squad:
An audio-visual presentation on the eight anonymous cops who slept with Tommy guns under their beds and traveled about town in two rusted-out Fords to battle the mob in Noir Era Los Angeles—a time and place where truth was not found in the sunlight and justice not obtained in a marble courthouse. The true story that inspired Warner Bros. to revive the gangster film genre it made famous.Gangster Mythology, Real Gangsters, and the American Gangster Film:
Paul Lieberman uses his behind-the-scene experience with the making of a modern gangster film to explore the dark flipside to America’s Horatio Alger myth. The multimedia presentation explores how real gangsters and film portrayals have played off each other from the Prohibition days of Al Capone through the modern times of John Gotti, illustrated by such big screen classics as Scarface and White Heat and the modern-day mob epics, the Godfather trilogy and The Sopranos. But no single figure blurred the lines between real life and fiction more than Los Angeles’ signature gangster Mickey Cohen, who spent his last years of freedom promoting his standing as a gangster to sell book and movie rights to any sucker with a dollar to spare. Bugsy Siegel, Mickey Cohen, and the Era of the Jewish Gangster:
They helped fund the insurgents fighting to create a Jewish state in the Middle East even as they forged alliances—and waged death feuds—with the Italian mob. Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel and Meyer Harris (Mickey) Cohen were tough street kids who became two of the most high profile hoodlums of the 20th Century and why not? They rose through the ranks of hoodlums at a time when a child of the Yiddish theater, Paul Muni, was picked by Hollywood to be the first actor to play the most feared of the Sicilians, Al Capone, on the screen. All through their rise and inevitable fall, their identity as Jews was a central element of their criminal careers built on contradictions, menace and, yes, humor. How else to explain Mickey’s big scam of offering to sell his soul to Jesus’ up-and-coming voice in America, the great evangelist Billy Graham? A colorful introduction to the legends of Jewish organized crime. The Billionaire, the Butler . . . and the Séance to Bring Them Back:
A journey through the final chapter in the life of the 20th century’s quintessential heiress, Doris Duke, who died mysteriously in the old Rudolph Valentino mansion, an early center of psychic sessions to commune with the dead. When she left her fortune in care of her flamboyant butler, and he soon died as well, how better to get to the heart of the matter than to call on Hollywood’s leading medium. . . . Take a multi-media journey into the occult and the underside of the City of Angels. They Ain’t No Angels—The Phenomenon of Hospital Killers:
They top the lists of mass killers because it’s so easy to get away with murder in a hospital, where people die all the time. The public often brands them as “Angels of Death” but compassion for the old and sick is never their motivation. The talk traces such killers over the years—from the “Arsenic and Old Lace” case on—while introducing the audience to perhaps the most prolific “Angel” of all, Efren Saldivar, who confessed to killing 60 to 100 patients while working the appropriately named Graveyard Shift.
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