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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.


Books

Too soon? Well, not really. Hannukah, after all, is less than a month away, after sundown Dec. 2. So forgive, if you will, the genuine excitement of someone who loves books as much as I do for listing some books that really got my juices flowing. Many are literary, admittedly, and all but one are currently available online and in bookstores. "Tailspin: The People and…

"It's about my son," David Sheff says to the drug therapist. That's why "Beautiful Boy" is a rarity for a whole new age of addiction movies. It was about fathers and sons, too, back in 1957 when Lloyd Nolan, the father in "A Hatful of Rain" told his addicted war veteran son Don Murray that he loved him. This is different. This is about a boy coming of age as an addic…

Columns

In TV news, you know you're in real trouble when you put your foot into it and your own high-powered agents won't even stand next to you. That's what happened this week to NBC's Megyn Kelly when she launched a bafflingly stupid defense of white parents allowing their kids to wear blackface as their Halloween costume. Reports, ever after, have indicated her days are over…

"Roseanne" came first in October 1988. A month later in November we made the acquaintance of "Murphy Brown." The new "Roseanne," complete with a Trump-converted star, arrived last year. "Murphy Brown" followed suit this year, 30 years after it arrived. I disliked both shows rather intensely in their primes. Those shows caused me problems -- especially "Murphy Brown,"…

Gusto

The subject just came to me one Sunday: who is the most beloved person in the city of Buffalo? (Who is neither an athlete or TV personality.) As fast as the question came, so did the answer: Joey Giambra. In past days, he might have had some competition with the likes of Jackie Jocko or the late Lance Diamond, but mortality has thinned their beloved ranks. It is l…

Movies

Robert Redford was right. Under the pretext of programming an evening of his work for Turner Classic Movies, he and his director on "The Old Man and the Gun," David Lowery, went on that network to do some sideways promotion for their new film, which opens Friday in the Dipson Amherst and Eastern Hills theaters. Quite typically, what Redford did was immensely telling.…

Gusto

Here is how Bobby Previte explained the origin of "Rhapsody," the sextet song cycle he'll bring to the Burchfield Penney Art Center: "I began thinking about the fact that I come from a family of immigrants. My mother was born in Sicily because my grandmother, pregnant with my mother, was denied entry into the United States and sent back." Composer/drummer Previte is, wi…

Gusto

Thank heaven for sex. It is the subject that gives wit, panache and irresistible tang to "Colette," all of which were desperately needed to avoid raw preachment. The end result is a film that is far more cunning than you think it's going to be – far more complicated, nuanced and intelligent. It's about the first 15 years of the career and first marriage of Colette, the …

I like Conan O'Brien. I always have. I know I'm not alone, too. It's just that I never watched his show. Few people I know did -- not regularly. His hourlong late-night TBS stint was officially over Thursday. His show will return in January as a half-hour show sans band. I used to dip into his TBS show two or three times a year or to see this interview or that. Or ma…

Gusto

The music playing on the fellow's boom box came from Keith Jarrett's "The Koln Concert." I didn't recognize it 15 seconds after entering his shop. The two-record set hadn't yet become the best-selling solo record in jazz history and the all-time best-selling piano record (3.5 million records). It wasn't yet one of those rare jazz records - like Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" …

Gusto

Robert Redford has lost 60 percent of the hearing in his left ear, it has been widely reported. That's what happens when a 77-year-old man insists on making an arduous movie where he spends 12 hours a day in a water tank or being soaked with a hose held off-camera while a wind machine blasts away. The movie was "All Is Lost," an epochal and truly great film with a dr…

Columns

You had to know Phil Corigliano a little to understand why Diane English would want to pay tribute to him in a hit TV sitcom. And why she'd want to continue doing it when that sitcom — "Murphy Brown" — was resurrected in 2018 as one of the pale Lazaruses emerging from the nostalgic caves into 2018 network television. Phil Corigliano was that lovable. He died at 78…

Michael Moore did, in public, the one totally unforgivable thing you could do in 2016: He was right when almost everyone else was wrong. On a July 2016 episode of HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher," Moore said, "I think Trump is going to win." To Maher's scoffing, gasping, mostly young, left-of-center audience, he said "we're in our bubble" being reassured of the near…

They're mad at Willie. But then these days everybody's mad at everybody so what else is new? What's riling up the current wavelet of anger at Willie Nelson is that later this month he'll be performing at a rally in Texas for Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke, who hopes to up the charm quotient of the U.S. Senate by unseating Ted Cruz. A sizable chunk of Willie's fan…

A funny thing happened on the way to some records being set on publication day by one of the unfunniest books ever published in America. The book is Bob Woodward's "Fear: Trump In the White House." The record it set immediately was this one: Simon & Schuster's pre-order sale of the book was the biggest at the publisher in 94 years. 750,000 copies were sold on the…