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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.


IN MOVIE marketing conferences, they call it "platforming," but it might as well be called "basementing" or even premature burial.To discover its symptoms, all you have to do is riffle through the dossier:Stephen Frears' "Dangerous Liaisons" starring Glenn Close and John Malkovich opened in the Christmas movie rush in New York. It is playing in many cities around the …

lean and healthy specimens both -- emerge wet and shivering from their arduous, underwater struggles with a giant prehistoric arthropod from the ocean floor. (This is the sort of movie in which braless, nubile young women are immersed in water as often as possible. It's from the wet T-shirt contest school of low-budget cinema.)"Are you cold?" the young man asks in a s…

"My little contribution to Western Culture" is what Sean S. Cunningham laughingly calls it."It" is "Friday the 13th," a movie made for a half-million dollars in 1980 that has spawned an industry with total gross revenues Cunningham estimates at over $500 million so far and sequels that threaten to stretch on to infinity. For a while now there even has been a syndicate…

DAVID FROST smirks at the camera and says -- "We stick by our pledge: no three-headed babies, no programs devoted to issues like 'Should one-legged lesbians be allowed to adopt parrots?,' no sex surveys and, hopefully, no broken noses for the host."That was the final promise in the first installment of Frost's new syndicated tabloid show "Inside Story" but it could st…

"The January Man" is a serial strangler who haunts New York City. He plots his murders by means of astrology, prime numbers and dreadful old rock songs. No ordinary strangler he.He is hunted down by an inspired nut in the Police Department who drinks espresso and hires an artist friend to paint bird murals on his office at the precinct house.The only reasons the nut i…

HIS IDEA of a neat little joke is to advocate the legalization of ALL drugs on the air. He tells friendly black callers that they're "Uncle Toms" and tells vile white racists that they're "pinheads." No one is spared his bile -- not even those who call in to say they're dedicated fans. His job, after all, is to insult people, get their blood and their words flowing an…

FOR THE last half-hour of Garry Marshall's "Beaches," the sound of audience sobbing and nose blowing may resemble the gathering roar of Niagara. If there's a dry eye in the house, it probably belongs to a potato (or a human being who's a reasonable potato facsimile).It's an old-fashioned women's picture, wiseguy division. One heroine is named C. C. Bloom, comes from t…

"Say, what is it that killed him? You don't suppose. . . "I MIGHT as well tell you. It was Her Ladyship, a snake-vampire who worships a giant worm and runs topless around the countryside. She invites young male victims to her own lair for dinner. When she invites you for dinner, she really means it.She has a way of dispatching young male victims by biting them in a si…

On a June night in 1964, James E. Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were jailed, fined, released and murdered in Philadelphia, Miss. It was a crime that defined its era -- the ritual murder of idealism.You hear a lot about missing and murdered "civil rights workers" in Alan Parker's "Mississippi Burning" but not the actual names of Chaney, Schwerner and Goo…

"I made you some tea.""That's very nice of you, Sarah."THAT IS not an exchange between a happily married husband and wife. It's a light and quick toe-dance over eggshells, the kind of tiny, grotesquely polite and considerate exchange that only occurs between a husband and wife who have far too much to be grotesquely polite and considerate about. Sure enough, those egg…

What was it? The Year of the Actor?Perhaps so. When no one else does anything especially prepossessing in movies, it's the actors who shine like beacons in the fog. It's a law of American movies and television that when everything else turns to oat bran, actors can function fully as artists and get away with it.It was a year profligate with powerful performances -- se…

IT WAS ONLY a matter of time before the delights of being Bobby McFerrin came to be known to the world at large. Jazz people have been excited about him since before his first record came out. The world at large took a little longer.It suspected something was up when it first got a look at McFerrin's 501 Jeans commercials. But as soon as people got to listen to Simple…

IN THE SUMMER of 1983, director Barry Levinson, producer Mark Johnson and star Robert Redford turned Buffalo topsy-turvy by filming "The Natural" here. Here are the films Levinson and Johnson have made since "The Natural":"Young Sherlock Holmes," a soggy Spielberg hireling job with a nevertheless terrific premise in Chris Columbus' script."Tin Men," the successor to "…

A COUPLE OF rough looking boys in dark suits call on Gino, the shoemaker."A friend of ours would like to speak to you this evening," they say."I just-a shine shoes," says Gino in quiet agitation.A long pause. "There'll be shoes there."The opening seconds of David Mamet's "Things Change" tell you exactly where you are -- in a writer's movie. And not just any old writer…

A COUPLE OF rough looking boys in dark suits call on Gino, the shoemaker."A friend of ours would like to speak to you this evening," they say."I just-a shine shoes," says Gino in quiet agitation.A long pause. "There'll be shoes there."The opening seconds of David Mamet's "Things Change" tell you exactly where you are -- in a writer's movie. And not just any old writer…