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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.


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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 …

"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…