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Jeff Simon

A semi-retired critic and columnist for The Buffalo News. Before that, he spent a couple decades as The News' arts and books editor.


Mary Jo Kopechne died 50 years ago. But then the anniversary of her death is not one of the things routinely remembered this week. Much preferable for most of us has been the 50th anniversary of our landing on the moon, during which Western Civilization hit an absolute zenith. If you were listening or watching news 50 years ago on radio or TV, you were splitting your at…

Bills

One word fills half the screen: Buffalo. Its arrival is accompanied by a big, dark chord in the soundtrack. Obviously, Buffalo was not Marshawn Lynch's favorite place to live. That's certainly understandable. He had three seasons with the Bills during which he ran well but got into a hit-and-run mess in the wee small hours in Chippewa's bar district. A private set…

Gusto

The light is on. Time for applause. We have a new winner. Actually we have a very old winner but it's one that has suddenly sprung up in a new and radically different era. In other words, the 21st century when new TV series are routinely dropped all at once to be binged at leisure. The contest that has been won this era is this one: even with binging now possible, wh…

Columns

The first time I saw a photo of David Letterman's face - with that big goofy smile and that gap the size of the Bosphorus between his two front teeth -  I thought "Alfred E. Neuman lives." Once upon a time, that was a universal reference. No more. When septuagenarian Donald Trump wanted to take a swipe at the naive affect of Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, he sai…

"I hated it." So said CNN's former CIA terrorism expert Phil Mudd. "Can't we have one day without a politician?" he asked, echoing what is perhaps the major question of the entire Trump era. You think that's harsh, you should have watched CNN and seen retired Rear Admiral John Kirby call Donald Trump's July 4 speech "a sepia toned and saccharine" version of American mil…

Here is an authentically modest proposal. Or so I think anyway. Let traditionalists encourage people to read novels during the summer, whether "chick lit" or otherwise. By all means, all who want to do so should recommend Tolstoy or Proust on vacation or "the sex and shopping" fantasies of Judith Krantz, who died recently -- still beloved -- at the age of 91. Let's a…

His name is Lew Lehrman. In 1982, he had no business coming from nowhere into 2 percentage points of winning the vote for governor of New York State. That's what he did to the amazement of almost everybody and the consternation of the Democratic Party. Until he ran for governor he was only -- if at all -- known as the executive heir apparent of Rite-Aid, the family busi…

"This is what I was wearing 23 years ago when Donald Trump attacked me in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room." That is what is printed on the cover of the June 27 issue of New York Magazine next to a picture of a woman. Her name is E. Jean Carroll, best known as an advice columnist for Elle Magazine. She was also a 1975 Emmy nominee for "Saturday Night Live." Her ra…

I never met Pauline Kael. I didn't correspond with her either. Nor did we chat over the phone about the latest movies. No matter how many screenings and movie events I've attended in other cities, I don't think, frankly, that I was ever in the same room with her. She never got me a job -- or tried to. No one, then, would ever dream of calling me a "Paulette," the der…

Columns

Christine Baranski is my favorite. But not by all that much these days. When William Fichtner topped off a fruitful life as a movie and TV character actor by becoming a regular on the sitcom "Mom" as Allison Janney's boyfriend, Baranski suddenly had competition for status as my favorite performer from Buffalo on current national TV. But Baranski, for me, remains the …

When last we left Chuck Rhodes Jr., he was fully dressed in his S&M leathers, completely tied up and suspended horizontally from the ceiling. It was the season finale of Showtime's "Billions" and Paul Giamatti, as Rhodes, had decided his manipulative behavior in that episode had been rotten enough to earn much-desired physical punishment by his dominatrix. When Show…

I cannot tell you how much I first wanted to like "Off Beat Cinema" when John DiSciullo first told me it was coming to Channel 7 in 1993. Yes, James Gillan's whole original idea came from an ad agency and not a conclave of hungry movie freaks determined to preserve cinematic eccentricity for eternity. As a result, it didn't seem to have any animating notion at all, whet…

Columns

The category on my "Fake 'Jeopardy'" show is "Begins with S." The answer is "The use of clever, but false arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving." The proper responding question should be "What is 'sophistry?' Alex." Sophistry, pure and unalloyed, were, I think, all those mathematical explanations for this week's finale of James Holzhauer's extraordina…

Columns

I worried. It turned out I needn't have. What I feared was this Friday's premiere of HBO's "Deadwood: The Movie" by my old friend and Nichols School classmate David Milch would be a major disappointment – especially to those of us who felt the original HBO series was David's finest work by far, as well as a cable-TV landmark. Advance interviews in national magazines …

In this corner, weighing several megatons, all of them soaked with blood and singed with dragon fire and lasting 80 minutes, we have HBO's "Game of Thrones," which came to an official stop Sunday. In the opposite corner, light as a feather and twice as campy, slathered with climactic schmaltz and starring a regular cast making millions per episode, we have "The Big Bang…