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Jeff Simon

Jeff Simon is the News' Arts and Books Editor. He has been writing for the paper since Spiro Agnew was the vice president.


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I'd have been perfectly fine with Steven Spielberg's career if he'd never made another film after "Schindler's List." It's a devastating masterwork but that's not only why it would have made a great final film. The ending of "Schindler's List"--in which the director broke the fourth wall and filmed himself and his family making a pilgrimage to Oskar Schindler's grave --…

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I was eight years old on March 5, 1953. That's the date officially listed as the date when Joseph Stalin died, after being stricken with a stroke four days before. Mine was not a news-consuming family. I had two uncles--attorneys both--who avidly kept up with the news but my immediate family seemed more news averse than anything else (on the general grounds that all new…

Columns

"Love" was the magic word. It was the answer. Of the two Anderson Cooper interviews with women suing Donald Trump last week, his long Thursday CNN interview with the former Playboy Playmate of the Year was, by far, the more interesting. That one is where Karen McDougal claimed to have had a 10-month affair with the current president during which she told him she loved h…

You'll discover a wonderful actor you're unlikely to have ever seen before in "The Last Suit." He's a 67-year-old Argentinian actor from a theatrical family named Miguel Angel Sola. He's never before been featured in a performance as potentially popular as the one in "The Last Suit" (whose Spanish title, "El Ultimo Traje" is where you'll find what few Internet references t…

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It's a tossup between baseball and boxing. Considering that we're in basketball's championship season, maybe we should make it a jump ball between them. The question is: Which sport--baseball or boxing--has engendered the greatest contributions to American literature? Some would rush to nominate baseball, "the great American game," on the strength of truly great nove…

Columns

Of course, we're looking to "60 Minutes" to get to the bottom of the Stormy Daniels business. Isn't that where we always look? When Gennifer Flowers told America she had a long sexual relationship with Bill Clinton in Arkansas, she was on "60 Minutes." When Monica Lewinsky's stained blue dress made a mockery of Clinton's contention that "I ... did ... not ... have ... s…

Columns

Let's talk numbers. Big numbers. More than $400 million to be specific. That was the prominent answer to the question "How many dollars did 'Black Panther' collect from American box offices in its first two weekends?" If it seems a staggering number, that's because it is. Nor is that all about the opening weekend of "Black Panther." It not only drew huge numbers of payi…

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CLASSICAL MUSIC "Kodaly, Concerto for Orchestra and Other Works" performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and JoAnn Falletta (Naxos). No one ever said that friendship with a genius was easy. Zoltan Kodaly and Bela Bartok were lifelong friends from the time they met. They were near-contemporaries (Bartok was a year older) and after they investigated Hungary's n…

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Michael Haneke, the writer/director of "Happy End," doesn't like us very much. It's nothing specific that we did. It's just that if you're an avid member of the American filmgoing classes, you're a perfect target for the Austrian filmmaker. You're either too lazy or too intellectually fat or too bourgeois or all those things together by his lights. After all, haven't yo…

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Annette Bening will never be better than she is in Paul McGuigan's film "Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool." Hers is, absolutely, one of the great female film performances of 2017. It's a tragedy, therefore, that this year's Oscar category for Best Actress couldn't find room for her. A  plausible argument has long been that her ultra-high profile marriage to Warren Beat…

Columns

The most nauseating allegation, by far, against Matt Lauer that was reported during the storm that cost him his pivotal NBC "Today Show" job, came from a story I first read in the Daily Mail: that a 40-something married woman was summoned to his office, whereupon he pressed a secret button on his desk that automatically locked the door behind her. According to her, he then…

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It's one of the oldest complaints about the Oscars: "What are these movies? I never heard of them.I certainly never saw them." It's gotten worse in the last couple of decades when so much of Hollywood's biggest and most expensive hoo-ha has been supplanted on Oscar night by smaller, less-expensive independent films. A serious answer to the complaint is here beginning th…

Books

Rose McGowan read from her memoir "Brave" last week in Manhattan's Union Square Barnes and Noble. Her book, among other things, touches upon her troubled childhood as the daughter of Children of God parents and her emancipation from them at 15. Of course, it deals, too, with her subsequent alienation from Hollywood and the abuses she's suffered. After the actress and…

Columns

I never watched "Roseanne" – not after the first episode of every new TV season, that is. It isn't that I didn't "get" the show. Or support Roseanne Barr's existence. I once supported her and her then-husband Tom Arnold during a low moment for them so vigorously that Arnold wrote me a thank you note. I even supported her when she offended most of America by singing the …

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TV's Content Watchdogs are seldom happy. Take the Parents Television Council, for instance. At the moment, they're peeved with TNT's "The Alienist" which premiered this week on the TNT network, full of mutilation, sex and gore of the sort one usually encounters of premium cable, where the audience expects dicey content. I'm not with them. It seems to me ordinary network…