Feirstein attended Boston University, where he served as managing editor for the student newspaper, The Daily Free Press. After graduation, he worked as an advertising copywriter, winning 11 Clio Awards, and three One Show Gold Pencils for his work on corporate and political advertising campaigns, for clients including BMW, FedEx, Michael Dukakis, and Sony.
He then became a freelance writer for many publications, including The Sunday New York Times Magazine (where he substituted for Russell Baker), The New Republic, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, the East Hampton Star and Playboy.
He was a contributing editor at Spy, worked for Howell Raines writing editorials for The New York Times, and has written the (largely) humorous "New Yorker's Diary" for the New York Observer since 1994. He has been a contributing editor at Vanity Fair since 1995, and a columnist at Strategy + Business magazine since 2000. His work has also appeared on-line at Salon.com and Inside.com.
In television, Feirstein worked very briefly on Saturday Night Live, was an on-air contributor to ABC's Days End, and was nominated for a Cable-Ace Award for his one-act HBO play The Best Legs in the Eighth Grade, starring Tim Matheson and James Belushi. He was also the story editor on the Fox Network series Mr. President, starring George C. Scott and produced by Johnny Carson. He has appeared (as himself) in documentaries about the 1980s, the Hollywood Award Season, James Bond and Pierce Brosnan.
Feirstein has also appeared as an on-air political commentator for CNBC and Fox News, and has been interviewed on the Today Show and Good Morning America.
Beside the James Bond series, Feirstein has also worked (uncredited) on screenplays for Will Smith, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, and Julia Roberts, along with the directors John Woo and John McTiernan. He appeared as himself in the 1992 feature film Naked in New York, directed by Dan Algrant.
In 2007, while continuing to write screenplays in Los Angeles, and contribute to Vanity Fair in New York, he began producing movies in China. His first film, 2009's Hong He, (Red River) the story of the aftermath of the Vietnam War, opened to great critical and commercial acclaim in China. Directed by Jiarui Zhang, it stars Nick Cheung, Danny Lee and Jingchu Zhang.
In 2008, Feirstein was named to the board of Overseers of Boston University.
In 1995, Feirstein began working within the James Bond franchise by writing the screenplay, along with Jeffrey Caine, for the film GoldenEye, with story by Michael France. Feirstein followed this up in 1997 by writing the story and the screenplay for Tomorrow Never Dies. In 1999 Feirstein co-scripted The World Is Not Enough with story writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.
Feirstein has also written four video games in the Bond series. In 2004, Feirstein wrote the critically acclaimed Everything or Nothing for developer and publisher Electronic Arts. More recently Feirstein adapted the 1957 Ian Fleming novel and 1963 film From Russia with Love for a video game of the same name, utilizing the voice and likeness of Sean Connery. In 2010, Activision announced that he would contribute an original story for the next videogame in the series, Blood Stone, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC platforms, along with the remake of GoldenEye 007. As one of the original writers of the GoldenEye film, Feirstein's work on the new game involved updating the plot to a modern setting and in the style of Daniel Craig's interpretation of the character.
Feirstein was born in Maplewood, New Jersey.
He lives with his wife, Madeline Warren, and twin children in Los Angeles. Warren is a former studio executive responsible for overseeing the production of many feature films, including My Favorite Year, Tin Cup, The Man Who Knew Too Little, and the Oscar-nominated L.A. Confidential.
Whilst in high school, Feirstein had a job changing the lightbulbs on the runways at Newark Airport.