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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.


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 …

"All the President's Men" set the precedent. We'd seen great newspaper movies since the '30's, but never before did newspaper movies mythologize the actual way modern journalists work. Then came Ron Howard's "The Paper." Then "Spotlight," which could almost be thought of as a sequel to "All the President's Men" in its faithful portrait of the doggedness and actual he…

Roone Arledge was a genius. I never realize how spectacular a TV invention "Monday Night Football" was until I watch, say, a 40-point blowout at an NBA playoff game where the resident announcers--one seasoned pro, two ex-players  -- have nothing remotely interesting to say among them. A fellow I know whom no one has ever been tempted to call a genius, once confidentl…

The apt title of Michelle Dean's book is "Sharp." Is it ever. It's about some of the smartest women of the 20th century and it's my favorite book of 2018 thus far (Atlantic Monthly Press, 362 pages, $26). Thereby hangs a tale. In her preface, Dean writes, "the forward march of American literature is usually chronicled by way of its male novelists, the Hemingways and …

It's called "Peak Television." That's to distinguish it from a mere "Golden Age of Television." It's the current stage of television history, i.e. television from a prodigious period where there's more interesting television than anyone could possibly watch in an ongoing life -- maybe even more "good" television if your definition of "good" is a generous one. The bru…

Columns

I was 8 years old at the time -- the same age as my grandson now. Elizabeth was 25. (She wasn't queen yet.) The date was June 2, 1953, the official date of her coronation, which took place at 10 a.m., or 5 a.m. Buffalo time. That's when my mother woke me up to watch. I was told it was a historic event and that years later I'd thank her for it. I somehow neglected to …

Columns

It didn't require a genius to imagine a schlocky, if dramatic, final scene between Mark Harmon and Pauley Perrette on last Tuesday' "NCIS." For their final moments together before Perrette departed the show after 16 seasons, almost any writing mediocrity at all could have invented a heart-rending tearjerker of a scene in which Harmon's stony, laconic character Gibbs at lon…

Here are some books of the moment worth paying attention to: "Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke and the Making of a Masterpiece" By Michael Benson (Simon and Schuster, 477 pages, $30). Probably the most innovative and influential film of the past half century was Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," which is celebrating its 50th anniversary as we …

Just when we thought that Bob Dylan winning the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature was as far out on a limb as the prize would ever go, we now find that this year's Nobel Prize for Literature will actually be put to sleep for a year. There won't be a Nobel Prize for Literature in 2018, courtesy of a sudden coma caused by corruption and #MeToo abuse in the Swedish Academy. …

Aug. 10, 2014 was a Sunday night. That was the night Robin Williams locked his closet door and hanged himself. He wasn't discovered until the late morning of the next day. The shock was worldwide and instantaneous. So was the puzzlement and gloom. No one outside his family had any idea how dark it had become for him. At that moment, according to Dave Itzkoff's monume…

Columns

On one side are the Washington Post, Variety and Linda Vester, whose allegations they're conveying. Add, too, in the Post's case, an anonymous source telling a similar first-person story about sex and "misconduct" by Tom Brokaw. On the other side are Brokaw and 64 female employees of corporate NBC over the years who signed a statement supporting Brokaw's personal integr…