Neal has taught at the University of Michigan and at the Pennsylvania State University. Leaving academe, he was selected to replace departing co-hosts Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel on the movie review program, Sneak Previews. He has also been the host of Reel to Real on the History Channel, and he is currently the host of Reel Thirteen on WNET, for which he won an Emmy.
Neal is a contributing editor at Playboy and a regular contributor to the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and Reuters Opinion, and his essays and articles have appeared in Newsweek, Vanity Fair, The Nation, The New Republic, Men's Journal, Time, Variety and many other publications. He has made appearances on The Today Show, CBS Morning News, Entertainment Tonight, and Charlie Rose.
Neal has been the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and Shorenstein Fellowship. He is currently a senior fellow at the Norman Lear Center for the Study of Society and Entertainment at the University of Southern California and is a Visiting Professor in the MFA program at SUNY Stony Brook. He is now researching a book on the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and the course of modern American liberalism.