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Jeff Simon

Jeff Simon is a semi-retired critic and columnist for The Buffalo News. Before that he spent a couple decades as the News' arts and books editor.


Columns

Yes, there were some dry eyes in the audience during Jim Kelly's speech at the 2018 ESPYs  in Los Angeles. But there weren't many. The show's director wisely flashed to audience reaction shots while Kelly was speaking. Eyes were wet all over. Expressions were stricken with empathetic sorrow over a man whose son lived for eight years with a rare and terrible disease that…

TV

Sacha Baron Cohen's new TV show "Who Is America?" hit Showtime on Sunday with a bit of a thud. Cohen–- whose "Borat" had moments of provocative and revealing genius – was accompanied on the air this time by the news Sarah Palin thought his impersonation in their encounter was more than a little degenerate for his pretending to be in a wheelchair when he "interviewed" her. …

TV

Sorry, Kevin. To me, you'll always be No. 2. If someone rode up on his Schwinn and asked me who, in my opinion, was the most delightful continuing presence in all of Buffalo television history, I'd probably pick O'Connell a strong No. 2. No. 1 is reserved for Van Miller, a truly irrepressible man who was even more fun to encounter out in the world than he was on the tub…

Books

Has there ever been a more lovable film geek than Leonard Maltin? I don't think so. The once ubiquitous bearded movie fanatic is, to be honest, one of my favorite Americans. You have to remember that once upon a time there was no internet — no IMDB where you could look things up in a flash. There was no Turner Classic Movies to centralize old movie showings, show movies…

Gusto

Alvin Wright redrew the cultural map of the City of Buffalo. As much as anyone, he democratized Buffalo culture and commerce. No one has ever wanted to give him credit for it. What Wright did was prove that Buffalo's most sophisticated movie audience would be just as happy seeing great movies in Cheektowaga as they were seeing them in North Buffalo or northern suburb…

One preteen girl has been found dead. Her teeth have been removed from her head. Another preteen girl is missing. That's just in the opening minutes. This is not the way life is supposed to occur in the small town of Wind Gap, Mo. Clearly, there's a story there; which is why a newspaper editor in St. Louis sends one of his bigger -- and most distressed -- talents to Win…

Gusto

What you don't see tells you almost as much about Kevin Macdonald's massively powerful documentary "Whitney" as what you do. You won't see Dolly Parton, who wrote "I Will Always Love You," the Whitney Houston song that, quite literally enraptured the world. (Saddam Hussein loved using "I Will Always Love You" for his rallies.) Parton, as is her custom, has always been q…

Columns

"Women like me aren't supposed to run for office," she said in her two-minute introduction to 14th district congressional voters, Women like who? Attractive, vibrant, smart, passionate and articulate? Why on earth not? One would assume even the most backward male troglodytes would understand her appeal. No, what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez meant was that she is 28 and a…

My answer is always the same -- Paul McCartney. I've met a lot of celebrities in my life and been in a lot of rooms where journalists have fired questions at famous people -- everyone from Fred Astaire, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Lauren Bacall and Jane Fonda to Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Jerry Lee Lewis. I never waffle. If you ask me who is …

I didn't "get" Fred Rogers. Thank God I didn't. Because everything I didn't "get" about Fred Rogers is what was so good about him. That's how wrong I was. He was right and so were his fans, which is why Morgan Neville's film about him, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" is being met with so much audience and critical love around the country (it is playing currently at Dipso…

TV

Tyra Banks is No. 1 — among current TV personalities, that is. So says the Hollywood Reporter's latest measurement of popularity on social media. This measurement seems to have been made through some algorithmic calculation of tweets, YouTube clicks and more. Follows and engagement are taken into account, along with who knows what all. However the figure is reached, Ban…

Jodie Foster was 10 years old in 1972. She was already a seasoned actress. She started playing roles in commercials and episodic television at the grand old age of 7 ("The Doris Day Show"). Nevertheless, "Napoleon and Samantha" was her first starring role in a theatrical movie. She co-starred with Michael Douglas and Johnny Whitaker in the Disney animal tale of a couple…

It's Bruce Springsteen I feel sorry for, not the president of the United States. The president's way of courting hostility is known everywhere -- along with his success in doing so. So when Robert De Niro took the stage on Sunday evening's Tony Awards on CBS and dropped a couple of F-bombs on Trump while the president and Dennis Rodman were otherwise occupied courting N…

Columns

On one side of the argument, we've got Roseanne Barr who was just thrown off the ABC network for racist tweets that all the atom-smashing sitcom ratings in the world couldn't fix. It's her pre-Trump self that caused the greatest trouble of her early career. On the other side, we have the president of the United States who wants nothing but institutionalized contempt for…

Columns

Some people really do call it "The Catch." But then quite a few sports fans would argue that's "tosh." They'd talk about David Tyree pulling in "the helmet catch" of a ball thrown by the Giants' Eli Manning in the Super Bowl. Some would argue that San Francisco's Dwight Clark in 1981 is as entitled as any football player to have made something called "The Catch." Or …