Jonathan Fanton, FDR Visiting Fellow and Interim Director of Roosevelt House, continued his series of conversations with fascinating public figures with James Lipton, renowned media and television personality and creator, executive-producer, writer and host of Inside the Actors Studio.


James Lipton  Creator, Executive Producer, Writer & Host Inside the Actors Studio

James Lipton is widely known as the creator, executive-producer, writer and host of Inside the Actors Studio, which is seen in 94 million American homes on Bravo and in 125 countries, and has been recognized with a record fourteen Emmy nominations.

For eighteen years, Mr. Lipton has brought to the series his experience as actor, director and producer in theater, film and television, choreographer, playwright, lyricist, screenwriter, author of both fiction and non-fiction, and academician.

He has been responsible as writer and executive-producer for some of television’s most celebrated specials, among them Jimmy Carter’s Inaugural Gala, the first Presidential concert ever televised; twelve Bob Hope Birthday Specials, reaching record-breaking audiences; and The Road to China, the first American entertainment program from the People’s Republic.

On NBC TV, he was the writer and producer of Mirrors, adapted by him from his novel; and he created the story and teleplay for Copacabana, which was chosen by TV Guide as one of the year’s ten best TV films.

On Broadway, Mr. Lipton wrote the book and lyrics of two musicals, Nowhere to Go but Up, and Sherry!, which was based on Kaufman and Hart’s The Man Who Came to Dinner. In 2005, he revisited Sherry!, producing a cast album for Angel Records, starring Nathan Lane, Bernadette Peters, Carol Burnett, Tommy Tune and Mike Myers.

In addition to his novel Mirrors, which reflected his experience in the world of dance and dancers, he is the author of the non-fiction classic An Exaltation of Larks, which has been in print since its publication in 1968, and prompted Newsweek’s book critic to write, “If there were an English Academy, Lipton would surely deserve election.”

In October, 2007, Mr. Lipton’s memoir “Inside Inside,” was published by Dutton to critical acclaim. An account of his experiences as founding dean of the Actors Studio Drama School of Pace University and creator and host of Inside the Actors Studio, it put Mr. Lipton in the guest chair, to reveal with the same candor he demands of his guests the events and people who have shaped hislife.

Mr. Lipton’s approach to his duties as host of Inside the Actors Studio – the four hundred blue cards, the focus on craft – has inspired imitation and parody, notably by Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live and beyond. That led to Mr. Lipton’s role in the film Bewitched with Mr. Ferrell, to 33 appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, to a recurring role on Arrested Development, acting appearances on According to Jim, Suburgatory, Joey, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Glee, and in the animated features Igor and Bolt. In addition to his appearances with Conan, he has appeared on virtually every talk show – with Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson. Jimmy Kimmel, Larry King, Charlie Rose and the women of The View – and on Saturday Night Live and as Donald Trump’s Board Room Advisor on The Celebrity Apprentice.

His appearances in commercials for Geico, DirecTV, Toyota, and the LG Give It a Ponder campaign against cyber-bullying have made him an even more familiar face on every television screen in America.

Mr. Lipton is an avid horseman and pilot, has received three honorary Ph.D.s, is a recipient of the French Republic’s Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres, has been inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame, and has been awarded the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Lifetime Achievement Emmy.

Jonathan Fanton  FDR Visiting Fellow and Interim Director, Roosevelt House

Jonathan Fanton is a Franklin D. Roosevelt Visiting Fellow at Hunter College and was President of The MacArthur Foundation from 1999-2009. Mr. Fanton holds a Ph.D in American History from Yale University where he taught and was Chief of Staff to President Kingman Brewster. He was Vice President of Planning at The University of Chicago and for 17 years was President of The New School for Social Research.

He is author of Foundations and Civil Society, Volume I and II (2008), and The University and Civil Society, Volume I and II (1995, 2002).

Dr. Fanton currently serves as Interim Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College.

James Lipton, in conversation with Jonathan Fanton | Posted on November 9th, 2012 | Public Programs