In Focus-Magazine

Ben Mankiewicz
Monday, 04.09.2018, 01:57 AM

Ben Mankiewicz

By Ed Donovan

Turner Classic Movies with host Ben Mankiewicz teamed up with NASA and Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for an extra-terrestrial screening of the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet (1956). The film was shown to fans at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, but also was transmitted to the International Space Station to astronauts onboard, making for an experience that was quite literally out of this world. In addition, astronaut Sunita Williams, who recently set a new spacewalking record, introduced Forbidden Planet to those here on Earth from the International Space Station.

 Ben Mankiewicz was born into a political family in Washington, D.C., where he also grew up. His father, Frank, was Robert Kennedy's press secretary in 1968 and George McGovern's political director in 1972 and a President of National Public Radio.

Ben says, “Growing up in Washington, D.C., politics and sports were always a lot more important than movies. They still are, for that matter, but at an early age I was taught to appreciate a movie's script above all else. I'm not sure that lesson took until I was much older, but it sure has now.”

Mankiewicz graduated from Tufts University and got his master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. He began his television career as a sports producer at the ABC affiliate in Washington before starting his on-air work as a news reporter and anchor at the CBS affiliate in Charleston, S.C.

From Charleston, Mankiewicz moved south to Miami in 1998 to become a reporter for Barry Diller’s innovative start-up station, WAMI-TV. In January 1999, he became host and co-writer for the station’s edgy, irreverent daily news magazine that quickly became a critical success. In 1999 and 2000, he was named Best TV News Anchor in South Florida by the newspaper New Times.

Mankiewicz then moved to Los Angeles nearly 75 years after his grandfather, screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, arrived and wired his friend Ben Hecht back in New York, “Millions are to be grabbed out here, and your only competition is idiots. Don’t let this get around.” Unfortunately, by the time Ben arrived in Los Angeles, word had gotten around. Herman shared an Academy Award with Orson Welles for the screenplay of Citizen Kane (1941) and was nominated again for the screenplay of Pride of the Yankees (1942). Joseph, the celebrated writer-producer-director, won his Oscars for Letter to Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950). Other prominent members of Ben's family include his brother Josh, a correspondent for "Dateline NBC"; his cousin, Nick Davis, a writer/director; and Mankiewicz cousins Tom, a writer/director, Christopher, an actor/producer/writer, and John, a TV and film writer. And, says Ben, "My mom, Holly Howell, is as smart as any of 'em."

In Los Angeles, Mankiewicz joined Cenk Uygur in co-hosting the national radio and web-based political talk show The Young Turks from 2002 to 2007. He has also been a correspondent for The Best Damn Sports Show, Period on Fox Sports.

He has been married to Lee Russo since December 12, 2013. They have one child. He was previously married to Contessa Kellogg.

Ben and his wife love animals and adopted a dog they named Rookie (the second dog Ben named in honor of his favorite baseball player Mitchell Otis Page) that had been living on the streets for nearly a year. Rookie became a regular feature of the "Young Turks" radio show and still accompanies Ben to the studio when he guest hosts the show.

He has also taken on several of what he calls “remarkably undistinguished” acting roles on such television shows as Big Love, Party Down, The Practice and The District, as well as in the Lifetime movie The Bling Ring. As it turns out, Mankiewicz's dog, Rookie, is also a lousy actor.

Ben says, “I'd like to get younger movie fans to become less afraid of old movies. As FDR said, there is nothing to fear but fear itself. He wasn't talking about old movies, but he could've been. People of my generation need to keep going to movies, but they also need to watch more TV. There's something you don't often hear: "Mankiewicz says Americans need to watch more TV!" But they do, as long as it's TCM.”

Ben Mankiewicz is the premier host of Turner Classic Movies (TCM). When he made his TCM debut in September 2003, he became only the second host hired in the network’s history.

Join Ben 0n April 26-29 in Hollywood for the ninth annual TCM Classic Film Festival.

For more information on Ben and Turner Classic Movies go to:

Ed Donovan can be reached at :

Ed Donovan is a SAG-AFTRA member since 1982. He is a Writer, Biographer, Producer, Director, Screenwriter and the Editor of the Award winning online magazine, In Focus- Magazine. The magazine is linked World Wide with writers and readers throughout the World. For more on Ed Donovan go to IMDB,






Ed Donovan

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