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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.


Buffalo is being seriously considered as a major location for a Paul Newman-Joanne Woodward movie scheduled to be filmed in the winter of 1990.A final decision on the matter may be made in the next six weeks.The film, "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge," is based on two novels by Evan S. Connell Jr. about upper-class society in Kansas City during the 1930s.The film's highly regarde…

THE AUDIENCE of Arsenio Hall's show makes a noise I have yet to figure out -- a noise somewhere between a Comanche war chant and zoologist Dian Fossey cooing sweetly to a gorilla in the African bush.I'm told by my colleague Anthony Violanti that they may be chanting "woof, woof," which is commonplace street slang for the big comic put-down (Should TV shows be closed-c…

Bill Cosby has a wonderful routine about pre-adolescent daughters and their longings for pubescence. Someday if they're good, he tells them, the "breast fairy" will visit them while they're asleep. They'll wake up in the morning in the nascent bloom of womanhood and boys will never look at them the same again.Once upon a time, "She's Out of Control" was called "Daddy'…

FRED GWYNNE gets laughs as soon as he hulks across the screen in a '50s trench coat and fedora in Jim Kouf's "Disorganized Crime."It's too bad, really. Gwynne is an enormously capable actor with a formidable physical presence and a voice that plumbs the depths of basso canyon. His facial features are even bigger than his voice: they already seem big enough for Mount R…

LOOK AT it this way: you're not just watching movies and television, you're making an investment in future gamesmanship. Moviegoers and fans don't have to stop with Trivial Pursuit or Oscar Prognostication contests.All manner of games are possible on all levels, from beginner to advanced.For instance:On the elementary level1. What Happens Next or The Spielberg Countdo…

It's like Aesop's old fable, "The Tortoise and the Hare." There have been violinists who could swing from the beginning of jazz -- Joe Venuti, Stuff Smith and Stephane Grappelli to name three. But getting string players to swing as a unit -- that's come slowly and steadily. Aesop's moral is that slow and steady wins the race. And so it did. Right up at the top of any …

"When you're old and poor," says widower Lasse in his dark, rumbling voice, "they can do anything with you. . . . But you, Pelle," he tells his small, motherless son, "you'll conquer the world."They are Swedes who've come to Denmark to work, a place where they hope that "they put raisins in your pork roast and butter on your bread."Lasse is an old and defeated man who…

E CAN ALL stop snoozing now. The Sunday slumbers are over.The day that used to be so calm and so peaceful has turned into a TV battleground again. It has also become uncommonly interesting.Connoisseurs of electronic competition can wallow in all sorts of video conflict today -- Michael Jordan vs. Dominique Wilkins for the pyrotechnic championship of backcourt basketba…

"Major League" isn't.It's certainly triple A entertainment, but it's still just a minor-league farm club of Barry Levinson's "The Natural" and, especially, Ron Shelton's "Bull Durham" -- two movies which have turned out to be vastly more influential than anyone in his right mind would have guessed five years ago (you have to remember that dog-eared copies of Shelton's…

"The music I heard and played growing up in the South was a typical gift that I've carried with me through my years of playing jazz," said tenor saxophonist Bennie Wallace at the time of the release of his record "Bordertown," his second splendid Southern-fried roots festival in a row. "Now I'm returning to that music and giving back to it what I've learned."Bennie Wa…

NOW we know.One of the great cinematic puzzlers of the past few years was this: why would Robert De Niro, one of the most powerful actors in the movies, appear in a piece of calculated commercial plastic like "Midnight Run"?The answer is "Jacknife", a small but extremely powerful film about distressed Vietnam veterans starring De Niro, Ed Harris and Kathy Baker. It op…

MICHAEL KEATON and three other mental patients are about to go on an outing to a New York Yankee game."Ahhh, it's great to be young and insane," says Keaton, sucking in a lungful of free air.Off they go in a van, singing along to "Hit the Road, Jack." Keaton's psychotic compadres -- who are eventually set adrift with him, unmedicated, amid Manhattan's mundane madness …

CYRIL AND SHIRLEY are scruffy, counter-cultural Marxists -- shambling, long-haired gentle types who ride motorcycles, wear heavy sweaters and dirty jeans and rub noses when they kiss. They bid good night to a visiting house guest by saying "sleep tight. . . and hope the police don't bite."The trouble is that in Margaret Thatcher's London they're social castaways. So a…

The great ones don't dawdle.I once saw Miles Davis in his prime get out of a car in front of Buffalo's old Royal Arms, stride right up to the bandstand and, for the first tune of a three-day gig, play an impassioned blues called "Joshua" at time-warp tempo. His solo was as fierce and intense and savagely memorable as any I've ever heard -- from him or anyone else.The …

Buffalo filmmaker Frederick King Keller, who directed "Vamping" with "Dallas" star Patrick Duffy and "My Dark Lady" in Buffalo, has signed to direct a new television series for the Nickelodeon Cable network and a new feature film for theaters.Later this week, Keller will travel to Tucson, Ariz., to begin preparations for filming "Hey Dude," a television comedy-adventu…