Jan 2, 2013
It has now been nearly a quarter of a century since Syd sold Variety and we moved out of the venerable 46th Street building. And a little over ten years since Roger Watkins and I, during a luncheon in a small London eaterie, decided it would be a good idea to start a web page dedicated to keeping the muggs in touch with each other. I had originally suggested a quarterly newsletter, but Roger was way ahead of me and suggested a web site and assured me that his son Ian would be glad to handle the technical side of the affair.
The result was that the Simesite (so named in honor of Sime Silverman) was launched on Dec. 16, 2003, purposely timed to be 98 years after the first edition of Variety hit the newsstands in Gotham.
Sadly, Roger is no longer with us on this 10th Anniversary of the Simesite, and was already too ill to attend out 100th Anniversary party at Sardi’s which was hosted by Syd in September 2005.
Since its founding, the Simesite has carried what must now amount to hundreds of comments, articles, nostalgia pieces, Oscar bets, obits and miscellaneous information about the old Variety, which Ian, as our London “caretaker”, has carefully kept, and which will soon be available on the redesigned web page. You will then be able to access the archives with far greater ease than heretofore.
I have kept the contents of the web page limited strictly to items related to and submitted by those who had been on the paper, both the Weekly and the Daily, during the halcyon Silverman era, though admittedly on occasions a few submissions have made reference to the Cahners/Reed years, usually in a negative manner.
The contents of the Simesite bear testimony to the affection still held towards the paper by its former employees, both in New York and in Hollywood, and is a living tribute to what was a unique publication the likes of which we shall never see again. Further proof of this esteem are the number of contributions I have received on this occasion from surviving muggs who are now scattered all over the world, all of whom cherish the time they spent at Variety and Daily Variety, regardless of how much they may have bickered among themselves in the past. May they continue to help keep the memory of the old paper and the time they spent on it when they were younger alive through this web page in the coming years!
Here are the replies that have been received from muggs at year’s end 2012. They are listed in the order in which they came in:
DOUG GALLOWAY (Los Angeles, CA)
My big news is that I’ve just launched a Los Angeles-Hollywood sightseeing tour company called Hollywood Classic Tours. In a way, it’s a dream-come-true for me as I’ve always had a passion for old Hollywood and enjoyed sharing my knowledge with just about anybody who would listen. I’m hoping this tour business will be (at least moderately) successful and be the last of an interesting three act life play.
Here’s the website: http://www.hollywoodclassictours.com/. Perhaps “Simesite-ers” can access the page and be re-directed to the HCT Facebook page and click the “Like” button. Of course, if anyone is ever in the area — take the tour!
My wife, Noriko, is well and contemplates retiring after 40 years in the travel business. She’ll handle the Japan side of the business.
Along with the above, Doug sent us a clipping taken from an old copy of Variety showing his favorite oldtime actor/singer, Al Jolson which he recently posted to Facebook: The great Al Jolson’s Variety ad wishing all “A Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year.” I remember seeing that ad in one of the old Variety bound volumes in the Daily Variety library during the nearly two decades I worked there. I spent hours going through the old Variety volumes. Stories about Al Jolson were ubiquitous in the pages of Variety and Daily Variety from the teens through the early 1950s…”
JOE MORELLA (Tucson, AZ)
Former mugg Frank Segers and I have been writing our blog. www.classicmoviechat.com for well over a year. I’m happy to say our readership is over 400 a day and growing. Look in.
My novel, “Murder on the Hearst yacht”. Has been reissued. Check Amazon.
Season’s greetings to all
JOHN WILLIS (London)
The compliments of the season. I hope you and all the muggs have a super Christmas and a very successful New Year.
I really don’t know what happened to 2012. It came and went. But, of course, we did have the Olympic Games and the Queen’s Jubilee here. Lynne and my youngest daughter were lucky enough to go to one of the equestrian events, where there was a British gold medal.
Of course we did have a miserable summer here. So much rain, so much flooding. However, we’ve survived.
Greatly miss meeting up with Jack Kindred and you this year. Hopefully, we will catch up soon.
In the meantime, every good wish to you and all the surviving guys and dolls. I do miss their cameraderie.
MIKE EVANS (San Diego, CA)
Michael Evans here in good health and spirits at least for the time being. As the ex-publishing director of Variety, Inc (the highest office held by a Silverman-era mugg I might add), Evans now works for another family-owned (McKinnon Broadcasting) media operation in San Diego as the associate publisher of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles magazine. Evans is married to another ex-Variety staffer Diane Smith Evans, and they have produced two offspring in male (Tyler, age 14) and female (Kennedy, age 11) versions, plus two German shepherds. The Evans family resides lakeside in the mountainous village of Alpine just outside San Diego.
Evans began his nineteen-year plus Variety career in the Chicago office with Frank Segers and Morris Roth, then went on to Los Angeles with Hal Scott, and then NYC with Gerry Byrne as East Coast advertising director, and finally after a three-year stint as associate publisher of then Cahner’s-owned Publishers Weekly magazine, back to LA as the launch publisher of eVariety, and publishing director of Variety, Daily Variety, Daily Variety/Gotham and Variety.com.
Post-Cahner’s/Reed Elsevier, Evans owned a FM Radio Station (KVEZ-FM) in Lake Havasu City, AZ, and was associate publisher of Palm Springs Life magazine!
MORT BRYER (Norwalk, CT)
First, congratulations and light pats on the back for Peter Besas and Ian Watkins, for doing ALL the work, cheerfully. Well, usually cheerfully. For FREE!!!
As for Mort Bryer, basking in bucolic Connecticut, I’ve done a bit of traveling, but all locally, first and foremost to my discount boozery in Stamford, Ct., guess, about 15 times, during the year. A couple of visits to “the city”, but they did not last over three or four hours, two trips to New Jersey, to visit an old family friend, a duty call, Jersey, they can give back to the Linapi Indians ( for PC readers, Native Americans ) and tons of trips to some of the great libraries we have here, especially in Westport and Greenwich.
These libraries have book sales on occasion and I am looking at two I picked up for the huge sum of $2 a pop, “The Doctor’s Book Of Home Remedies” and “The Country Doctor Handbook”. Both come in handy, since I try to avoid visits to medicos, who always seem to want to take tests, some, quite painful. I recommend both books. I do leaf through my family Bible, pilfered from a Holiday Inn, many moons ago ( odd, very few people steal Bibles, just towels, sheets, soap, etc. ). Said Bible comes in handy as a doorstop on windy days.
Of course, top on the list of events during the year was the U.S. presidential election and I spent tons of time exchanging light repartees with two old muggs, one, a supporter of our glorious leader, the other, well, he likes tea. As for me, well, that’s a deep dark secret.
Finally, I do spend a lot of time following the stock market and hope it doesn’t fall off the edge of the cliff. Or, if I may use an old dice game line, “Baby needs new shoes”.
Best to all muggs reading the above and now back to my favorite inactivity, plunking horizontally down on my favorite comfy couch and checking CNBC, with a touch of Fox News for laughs.
STEVE KNOLL (New York)
I’m still teaching at Fordham. The courses are “The History of TV and Radio News” and “TV News Innovators.” My research only reinforces what I already knew — which is how important Variety was throughout the Silverman era as the leading chronicler of the radio and television industry. Its pages are a principal source for scholars and historians from David Halberstam to Sally Bedell Smith.
Robert Landry wrote the first major piece about Edward R. Murrow when he had not yet emerged into prominence.
I could go on and on, but suffice to say that despite the passing of the years, the memories of Forty-Sixth Street will always be fresh in my mind and heart. Happy New Year everyone!
BOB HAWKINS (Rome)
Here I am a year later, more or less okay as I was then. The family, fortunately, is flourishing. I may be repeating myself, but daughter Carolyn (in Vienna) now has three youngsters, son Frederick (in New York) and two others, and Rosella lives near me in Rome. I’ve cut down on my typing, but still sort of scribble thoughts and memories into a sort of blog but mainly watch DVDs (Mad Men still a favorite), and watch a sadly ailing (in program ideas and quality) pay-TV, where the only thing still rising is the annual fee.
Books too, of course. Having read my 20 or so Grishams a second time (my weaker memory allowing me to forget much of the first time) plus some Italian novels kindly supplied by Christime, my oldest child. And yes, I eat exceedingly well, thanks to my live-in “badant” Ursula, who for the past several years has hit my culinary spot as well as dealing with my household chores. Can’t complain, can I? My warm thoughts to all muggs, and many thanks to you, Peter, for keeping our flag flying.
LARRY MICHIE (Northampton, MA)
My golf game is in Limbo while I wait for Spring to come so I can prove to the world that I’m a better golfer than the mess I make of the game on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, I have more or less finished a novel, which Virginia is proof reading and preparing to set loose on the Internet. I still don’t understand any of that Internet voodoo, but fortunately Virginia is good at figuring out all that stuff.
Just to further torture myself, I’m planning to try my hand at yet another novel. No doubt I’ll be showered with kudos and big bucks. Yeah, right.
I stil periodically try to decipher what’s going on in Hollywood, but the era of the Variety that we knew and loved seems to have mostly melted into nothingness. Oh, well, that’s the breaks of the game.
I hope all is well with you and yours. Spain seems to be in as much of a mess as the good old USA, so let’s just hope everything turns around. We might as well hope for it, since we can’t do anything about it ourselves. My response is to play golf, eat well, and sip the nectar of the gods.
SAMANTHA STENZEL (Chicago)
Fond greetings to all the muggs.
I will send an update soon, just wanted to make sure I got something to you to let you know I am alive and clicking (on my computer), doing lots of free-lance work and a steady editing gig in Chicago. Most of my traveling has been in USA but Greece and Turkey loom as destinations in 2013.
Bless you Peter for keeping us all in touch.
DAVID STRATTON (Leura, NSW, Australia)
Dear Variety Muggs,
(As I write this I pause to sip coffee from my Variety mug)
I really have nothing new to report since last year. I’m still co-hosting a well-received film review program on ABC television for 45 weeks of the year, returning on Tuesday nights at 9.30 in 2013. I’m still reviewing films for The Australian, and just filed by ‘Best and Worst of 2012’ piece to the paper. Most importantly (for me) I’m still lecturing on film history at Sydney Uni in the Continuing Education department.
So keeping pretty busy.
I catch up with some of the old gang in Cannes every year, notably Cart (Todd McCarthy), Yung (Deborah Young), Edna (Edna Fainaru and Dan) and others.
On a personal level, my wife and I enjoyed the longest vacation we’ve had together in years last July, spending four weeks in Africa, mostly Botswana but also Zimbabwe and South Africa – thrilling experience.
Almost as thrilling was the installation in my home cinema of a 3D system to allow me to view the impressive new BluRay 3D of Dial M for Murder. Wow! I’m looking forward to a break over Christmas/New Year before getting back into it again.
Thanks, Peter, for keeping the original Variety flag flying so proudly via Simesite.
Best wishes to all muggs – and drop in if you’re ever Down Under!
MORRIE GELMAN (Los Angeles)
Living in the desert, I’m far, far from “The Asphalt Jungle.” There’s no “Little Shop Around the Corner.” Often times I long for “The Four Seasons.” During this Presidential year, I was indifferent, on nobody’s “Band Wagon”. I continue to think of politics as “Idiot’s Delight.”
But don’t get me wrong. Though aging, I maintain a “Lust For Life.” Years of retirement find me still missing hearing about “Command Decisions” and interviewing in some exalted “Executive Suite.” Instead, my wife and I are leading “Private Lives” and often with temperatures of 100 plus feel like a “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
“For Me and My Gal”, life has been a “Random Harvest” of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” We’d love, even occasionally, to be “Singin’ in the Rain.” The truth is in this sunny, parched land rain is “Gone With The Wind.” We realize at our advanced age, “Night Must Fall.”
We’re not disappointed. We had no “Grand Illusion.” It all too soon for us will be “Goodbye Mr. Chips.” Speaking personally, so be it, “I’ll Cry Tomorrow.”
ELIZABETH GUIDER (Los Angeles)
Change is the operative word for me in the past two years — since, that is, I left Variety (2007) and subsequently The Hollywood Reporter (2011). Needless to say, so much fun at both and even now I do miss those newsrooms, the people, the chase. To be sure, newspapering is not what it once was but fortunately the entertainment biz is still fascinating to cover.
All that said, I did finally sit down late at night and wrote a novel I for years had been mulling. Perhaps we all have that itch at some stage. Mine is set in Italy in 1978, a time many of you will remember and/or a place some of you might have actually experienced. Think the Red Brigades, three Popes in quick succession, women getting the world’s most liberal abortion law passed in the shadow of the Vatican. Oh, and I forgot: It’s a love story!
What else? I’ve wanted to keep my hand in Hollywood things, so I have off and on freelanced pieces, both for THR, World Screen News, a couple of others. After this past Mipcom TV market in October in Cannes, I visited old haunts in Rome, London and Paris — and it did seem to me that folks had taken things down a notch or two. Let’s hope the powers-that-be can get their collective mojo in gear and goose all these economies (the U.S. included)–: so much more fun to talk about the movies (loved Amour, Zero Dark Thirty as well) and TV series (Breaking Bad and Homeland are amazing achievements) than the debt ceiling!
Onwards — and best to all.
NORMAN SCHERER (Montville, N.J.)
I have been hiding out in Montville, NJ from my soon to be ex wife (next week divorce finalized, never marry a lawyer). To stack the decks against me she had me falsely arrested five times since her attempts of poisoning me (in my opinion) failed. Our three years of court fun exposing me to the historic Tombs (twice), Brooklyn’s downtown jail (where I preached about my 911 theories to gang members all night) and two trips to Suffolk County jails (never get arrested in Suffolk County wearing an Obama shirt). I gave her the Fire Island house as a settlement, so my kids Jake (12) and Eve (8) can always have the beach house they grew up with.
Over two years ago I fell in love with Sharon and have been living with her between a Lower East Side apartment and her large five-bedroom house in Montville, NJ (overlooking Lake Valhalla). I have been doing the stay at home dad thing for her nine year old twins Jaime and David. Sharon oldest, Ashleigh (20), makes five kids I am happily surrounded by. Sharon is an art teacher, photographer, is helping writing the curriculum for the State of New Jersey and is finishing up her dissertation for her doctorate degree, so I will be calling her Doctor soon.
Been building a business around a web site called Clothing Machine and an organization called Indy Boost to help small kid-related businesses form a buying group. I have over 1,500 manufacturers now signed up to drop ship to the customers of the 7,000 mom and pop retailers I will start working with in 2013 (when my divorce finalizes). I am creating content-driven web mags to be used by indie (independent) stores and contractors to help sell customers on buying products from the 1,500 manufacturers. I’m concentrating on indy-owned toy and kids’ apparel stores and manufacturers in the kids’ business (apparel, gifts and toys) as well as accessories like bags, wallets, watches and jewelry for the parents. Been trying to hire Bob Pastore to help me sell the stores when I start this baby up. Anyone need a job?
I still do my history sites and apps which can be resourced at www.kidsnyc.com. My NYC History Bus app was transformed onto MTA subways’ first kiosk (at the Bowling Green Station). The kiosk features my write-ups of some of the 185 historic locations the nearby M22 bus route still passes. Once I make my fortune with my upcoming business I would love to get back to writing more NYC history sites, and apps. Jim Robbins helped me with his proofreading skills in making my history bus project happen.
My old Jean Michele Basquiat postcards are going to be featured in a Basquiat show in 2013, in Rio. Before working at Variety I worked with Jean Michele at Unique Clothing Warehouse in 1978-1979. I traded him 1/4 oz. of gold pot (back then worth $10) for 18 of his postcards (which are worth approx $20,000 each today). Part of my rehab treatment was to stop my hoarding but luckily I kept these first works of a now dead artist I simply knew as Jean Michele. Some of those cards helped me survive since the separation.
Word got out to the press about the $45,000 of strange videos Michael Jackson bought from my last company, Video Oyster, (Hitler and Nazi oriented, young boys with troubled parents, Disney, old TV shows and Judy Garland tapes). Of course the papers concentrated on the Hitler angle and wouldn’t hear about anything else I tried to say.
I am looking forward to launching Indy Boost, and my new life here with Sharon. My cell number is 917 822-1870 and e-mail is email@example.com You old muggs can call me anytime. Let’s connect. How about another Variety get together?
EDNA & DAN FAINARU (Tel Aviv)
Full of admiration for your keeping the old flame alive.
We’re alive and well and running around from one film festival to another even more than we did before, not because there are so many great things to see but there is so much more of everything else. Nothing has really changed in our lives, not the address, neither the occupation, only a few wrinkles here and there to remind us of the passing time.
We’re right now back from Japan, where I was on the jury of a festival called FILMEX, one of the last to believe that the quality of the films is more important than the color of the carpet at the gala screenings. We’re visiting our grandchildren in London before returning to the festival routine, hoping against hope some things will change for the better.
Our best wishes for a Happy New Year.
BRUCE BROSNAN (Sidney, Nebraska)
After 25 years of being an Art Director at Variety (12 in New York and 13 in L.A.) I was ready for a change. The entertainment business was never my passion and I was feeling burned out on award shows, celebrities and primetime schedules. Not to mention L.A. traffic. It was a great First Act but I needed a change. I decided it was time to get into a field that I really enjoyed and cared about. Well, I have been an avid outdoorsman my whole life and fished and camped all over the U.S. I first conisidered become a forest ranger, but they only make about 15K per year, so that was out. Instead I landed a job at the world’s largest outdoor retailer.
One of my main jobs is traveling to remote locations all over the U.S. art directing photo shoots for our fishing/hunting/camping business. So instead of going to the Cannes Film Festival I get to work on a ski shoot in Whistler, British Columbia.And I don’t get to go to the Oscars anymore, but I do get to go fishing in remote parts of Alaska. And I now officially care more about the deer hunting season than TV’s fall primetime season.
It was quite a big change to move my wife and two teen daughters from L.A. to a small mid-western town but we’ve all settled in nicely. I miss all of the great friends I made at Variety. To all of them I wish a great holiday and a Happy New Year.
BLAKE MURDOCH (Sydney, Australia)
Thanks so much for maintaining this contact portal for the few remaining muggs, of whom I’ve always felt very honored to be included, given how young and green I was when I first joined Variety.
But how lucky was I to be there – even though only 25! – under the Silverman years. I have such fond memories of all those who supported me, and the extraordinary access and authority that Variety’s moniker gave to its journalists. And the same goes to Bob Dowling at THR and its golden period of management.
As you know, like many muggs, I was shafted by Cahners in ’93, and moved straight to THR, again like so many others (and vice versa, and still happening), then shafted by THR management in 2005 as part of its new corporate structure.
Then again, so did all the “shaftees”, so what goes around comes around. And now THR is blossoming and Variety seems lost. How lucky I was to be at both trades when they commanded such respect and market penetration – and also appreciated their bureau chiefs when they slowly opened up new market after market (in my case Asia) for editorial and sales.
So it has been six (!) years since I was a journalist – my previous gig as you may recall was a PR consultant for the MPA before moving to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the equivalent to the FCC. Working for THR in L.A. 2004-5 was a nightmare after 10 years of being the golden boy looking after Asia. I try to block those memories out. I mean, WTF was I thinking??
I continue to work in the ACMA’s media section, which now reports directly to its Chairman, dealing with journalists, writing media releases, communication reports, organising media events, and being one of the few media “faces” of the agency as spokesperson etc. There is only myself and my manager handling an incredibly complex regulatory and co-regulatory broadcasting, telco and spectrum (yes, that’s a whole NEW world) regime.
The thirst from media in the regulator’s movements in these sectors is unquenchable and this year has easily been the busiest and “full on” in terms of dealing with the media and getting a handle on messaging (“massaging?”) for the many many journos who now follow this beat (at which I can cast a smile given V and THR were often the only few “local” outlets to be covering this stuff a decade ago).
The nurse prank call to the royals? That’s us (a possible broadcasting breach). The FBC/FTC announcement about a worldwide scam in August about fake Microsoft consumer calls? That’s us (spam and Do Not Call). McDonald’s sending out e-mails to kids without consent? That’s us (unsolicited communications).
And so on. It is such an all-encompassing remit my mind sometimes struggles to keep up with everything we’re supposed to know! Needless to say, film/tv production, distribution and funding aren’t on my horizon any more (although I’m always checking). And I can’t believe how many names are still there banging on about the same thing!
And, unfortunately, I can’t ever see myself going back to journalism. In Australia there has been a deep cut in editorial across the major publications. There’s no certainty. They all work to a ridiculous “has to be now” online deadline. No beats, no lunches, no face to face. Poor knowledge and a lot of hand-holding. Doch
I’m optimistic that the younger journos will adapt but for me it has been a fantastic (and very grateful) opportunity to be on the other side, learning to use the online tools journos now need, while having to skills to actually WRITE. This is still a rare commodity.
I turned 50 this year. 25 years ago I went to my first Cannes with you and the mob. Such an experience will never happen again. But I’m so lucky to be learning new experiences for “external outreach” while still having the same old skills that are still needed.
2012 hasn’t been an easy year. As a divorcee, it’s almost impossible to survive in Sydney. But then, I have my apartment and my wonderful 14 year old son and a relatively stable/safe job. I see my journalist friends really doing it tough, particularly those still stringing for the trades ($50 a story!), so no complaints.
2013 will be just as challenging but again another learning curve with a new website and media center coming online, so this old dog is continuing to be taught new tricks, while juggling two smartphones (one for work), a son who knows more than I do, and occasionally finding the secret pleasure of writing for the fun of it.
Just need to find a girlfriend!
All best to you all!
JAY BLICKSTEIN (Westchester, NY)
I’m currently freelancing and working on some special projects. I’m also volunteering as a basic literacy tutor up here in Westchester. My “student” is only a year younger than me, but can’t read or write, so I’m using the knowledge I’ve gained from toiling in the vineyards of Variety and elsewhere to help get him up to speed.
Simesite looks good after the freshening. Ironic that The Reporter figured it out and is doing relatively OK, but I had a front-row seat as Reed (which also owned Broadcasting & Cable) drove Variety into the ground. At one point, Reed could have sold all of its publications to Bain Capital (Romney; more irony!) for about $850 million, but they stubbornly held out for more and forced Bain to back off. Reed wound up selling off pubs piecemeal for a fraction of that amount, and had to shutter some 25 pubs that did not get sold. I rest my case.
In any event, glad I could throw in my two cents. Tak
MARK SILVERMAN (New Canaan, CT)
Since I have been a voyeur of Simesite and a “Silent Scream” observer of what has been going on with the two papers and various muggs, I thought an update is in order.
You may recall that after I left the weekly as Associate Publisher, Special Sections (akin to “Special Projects” wasteland in the corporate world) in April, 1993, I was a principal of the Golf Range Assn. of America and Executive Editor and COO of the trade magazine Golf Range Magazine my partner Steve di Costanzo and I published together until November 2007, a run of some 14 years, equal to my most incredible journey with Variety and its eventual metamorphosis beyond my influence with the powers that came to pass. In January that year I smelled that ink on paper, especially for business-to-business magazines, was akin to being a brontosaurus as the asteroid looked for a place to land and obliterate the world as we knew it. It took till Thanksgiving of 2007 to get Steve to buy out my end of our partnership, but I had grown it as far as I thought was possible: internet, website, national trade association etc. I felt that traditional publishing was about to get its ass kicked (how right I was) and wanted to find a new career path to match my analytical skills as a newsman and business operator.
Three months later, I interviewed with UBS in Rockefeller Center to become a trainee in their Financial Advisor program and started on Monday, March 3, 2008. By Friday that week, after denials all around by their executives that there was no crisis of capital, Bear Stearns went down and was bought by Jamie Dimon and J. P Morgan Chase, forced through the Fed’s window for just $2 a share, later upped to $10 with Fed intervention. Five days in the business, and I thought my timing would prove to be either brilliant or the worst in the history of finance. Five plus years later, I humbly say my timing was fortuitous, neither smart nor lucky. Even worse, after months of study on the train, I passed the Series 7/Series 63/65 exams to become a licensed securities trader by August 2008, only to watch Lehman Brothers failure lead the world to the edge of the fiscal abyss just one month later in September 2008.
In November 2009, unhappy with much negative news about UBS’s hiding of offshore US accounts and continued adherence to the longtime Swiss banking industry’s lack of clarity, I decided to move my practice to Merrill Lynch in Greenwich, CT to work with Tom Phillips, a 28-year Merrill veteran in the Private Banking & Investments Group, where I have been ever since. I love the fact that I can honestly say that, after Syd and Roger Watkins, my current boss, Glenn Feigin, is the 3rd best boss I’ve ever had.
So I am still a film buff, and a news junkie, but now I read about global macro economics every morning, and contend that I am still in the news business, but now I am digesting global events that affect investment strategy, not studio dynamics. My report card now is ROI, not BO. But they are essentially the same thing, just measuring different scales of return. I will still watch Dr. Zhivago to catch a glimpse of Julie Christie for four hours, and always wonder if Coppola could top The Godfather with an update that has no Mario Puzo roadmap, only an extrapolated reality play from the Gambino/Gotti era.
I know a lot of people here in New Canaan, Connecticut (much like Pasadena and Pacific Palisades East) that belong to the club where Jay Penske (and I think his brother) peed on some lady’s shoes while she was wearing them and she rightfully had him arrested. He’s a billionaire’s son, and has enough money to get out of trouble, I think. But class is another issue. I can honestly say that Michael and I never pissed on anyone’s shoes, even our own. God knows we may have tried. But I think our most egregious moments could be explained by anyone who spent many latenight moments at the Petit Carlton in Cannes with us. You know who you are!
So, I miss all of our Cannes newsroom amigos, Dogo, Sege, Hyho, Besa, Hawk, John Willis, Ted, especially those who have left us like Roger, Hank, Hal, Tom, Keith, Sid, Dr. Franci even, all you guys who helped me cut my news teeth, whether they were milk teeth or not, they were still mine. I still tell friends about how I “discovered” the Coen Brothers with their $5-Mil Blood Simple film noir masterpiece, which I reviewed from Cannes in like 1983 or so. Right up there with Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil in my book. They took an ad in the Cannes issue that year, when the only color other than black you could buy was red. Remember, the “secret” of Variety’s success in our era was, we got an ad for every movie NEVER made. Ahem. And where are Bobby Meyers and Andy Vajna today? They started the AFM in Franci’s face, with or without Variety’s blessing, but they created another market issue for us. So be it.
I also had a great breakfast with Mike Evans this fall in White Plains, where he was in town for a publishing conference for his magazine group, San Diego Home and Garden. I hadn’t seen Mike in maybe 15 years, but it was like we hadn’t skipped a beat. I know I wasn’t viewed as a “sales” guy, but Mike was always one of my personal faves, because we shared the same sense of humor about life in general and Variety in particular. We had a blast for three hours, and I hope to do it again. I also must confess that Jay Blickstein, during my last NATPE convention publishing the NATPE Daily while Bart was figuring how to hang me, mentioned that the Fillmore West was going to close during the NATPE convention with the Jerry Garcia Band and Hot Tuna as the final act, and would it be okay if he went. I said, “Yes,” you could go…..but only if all of our crew could, too. I bought the tickets on my own dime, and it was quite the moment for all of us, not just Jay, who gave me a newfound appreciation for one of the world’s greatest guitarists, Jorma Kaukonen from Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane.
I love Doug Galloway’s picture at Musso and Frank’s, but only if he ordered the Sand Dabs (those little fish served with the heads on, Mr. Gettes). If you get the Chinatown reference, you win $5. Tom Pryor took me there and counseled that they were the only dish worth ordering. Amen to that. Miss him too, and all the muggs that for time or distance have not been able to connect with. But Variety is what connects us all, regardless of the timeline. It was an era that will likely not be repeated, nor replicated. And for any and all of us who were lucky enough to be part of it, it is always with us, part of our id, and our Variety DNA.
LEE SIMKINS (London)
2012 was a good year for me – very busy at work which considering the recession and the fact I work in construction was no bad thing and 2013 looks like being even busier. Still healthy enough to keep fit at the gym and jog around the local park which I love although I have noticed that I am getting slower and slower! However, since I turn 50 in early January I can’t really complain. I’m managing to maintain my handicap on the links of South East England and enjoyed a lovely golf holiday in the Algarve with five good friends back in August.
I tried hard to get tickets to many of the Olympic and Paralympic events in the Summer but only succeeded in getting them for a session of boxing but it was fun and at least I can say I went! I’m off to Moscow in August for the World Athletics Champs.
I would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone the very best for the New Year.
PAUL ROSOVSKY (New York)
Sorry to have been out of touch with the ex-muggs (and I was actually in a coma when the anniversary party was held in 2005), but I’ve spent the last few years taking care of my father at the end of his life. He was always proud that I worked at Variety, and even after I had left the paper still read it for the years that Norma kept him on the subscription rolls. (BTW, I passed by Grove Street last week and Norma’s sister’s restaurant, Fedora’s, is gone too).
So I have started looking for gainful employment again (assuming any is to be found). I remember when we were all young, we’d bemoan that fact that no one would hire us in the industry, because we are young and had little experience. Now, I bemoan the fact that I am old and no one will hire me because I have too much experience. Funny how things change… Hope everyone has a safe New Year’s. –ex-Roso.
RICHARD GOLD (New York)
I’m an Adjunct Professor of English at Pace University in NYC, teaching writing through film studies, and critical writing. Also occasionally teach TV news magazine and documentary production at New York Film Academy Also working on my second novel, playing lots of guitar and writing songs.
Thanks to you and Ian for keeping the site alive!
Feliz Año Nuevo!
MIKE NICOLAIDI (Feilding, New Zealand)
Variety was one of my great joys, delights and, on occasion, exasperations!
Each one of us muggs, in our various ways and humours, were part of the fabric of ‘old Variety.’
Peace and goodwill and the best of 2013 to you.
MARGE PREZIOSO (Sayville, NY)
Merry Christmas and hoping this is the best year yet for all. The Balan Girls still get together for dinner a couple of times each year. I am now the grandmother of four, both my children are teachers. I will be retiring this June after spending a very rewarding 15 years working with students at a Tech High School on Long Island. I will now be able to take my dream trip to Hawaii in September. I am lucky to be going with a few couples from High School (class of 1965) who have managed to still be together after all these years.
Love to all.
MARK THOMAS (Bangkok, Thailand)
Not much new with us except that we bought a small condo on the beach about two hours south of Bangkok and now try to spend as many long weekends there as possible.
I have two more years to go until mandatory retirement at UNICEF, and I will definitely be working in Bangkok until then. I traveled a lot around Thailand this year for work, including many visits to Thailand’s three southernmost provinces, where violence by sepratists continues unabated. There are no easy solutions to the problems there, but some type of local autonomy for the Muslim majority population in these provinces would be a very positive first step. My only trip out of Thailand this year was to Prague for a conference, which has to be one of the most beautful — if not the most beautiful — cities in Europe.
I have been doing a lot of reading about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan this past year, and recently finished Sebastian Junger’s War, which follows the extraordinary experiences of a single US platoon in an extremely dangerous valley in Afghanistan. The book covers the terrible conditions they live, fight and die in as they try to wipe out the Taliban in the valley and win the hearts and minds of the local population. It provides a clear, although not overt, picture of the absolute failure of US policy in Afghanistan and how the war has destroyed so many young American lives. Another book I am currently reading, Karl Marlantes What It’s Like to Go to War, is exactly about that as well as a stinging indictment of how the US fails to prepare its soldiers with how to deal with all the killing they have done once they return home and enter back into civilian life. Marlantes was a US Marine who fought in Vietnam and wrote a fictional novel, Matterhorn, based on his experiences there about 30 years after coming home. All three books should be compulsory reading for anyone who still thinks that the US-forced wars in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else are worth the terrible toll they take on the young men and women who fight them.
I hope you and the rest of the Variety lads and ladies have a very peaceful and prosperous New Year!
HARLAN JACOBSON (Croton-on-Hudson, NY)
Talk Cinema rolls on with its pre-release screenings series in 11 sites around the US and trips to various domestic and overseas film festivals. My wife Susan is the brains behind the operation, I’m the dancing bear, and together we are pointing our two high school age girls toward the open road that starts with college.
Here’s our man in Havana….(photo of Harlan with a cigar) which is where, rumor has it, Syd was intending to post me as the bureau chief. Think he said he’d found the right spot for me. Notice mi amigo in the picture managed to sweet talk me out of my Talk Cinema hat and sign me up in the reserves. Any of you who want to participate in one of our Talk Cinema festival trips are most welcome to come! See www.talkcinema.com for info.
I continue to cover Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, etc on a pickup basis for various print outlets like the Philly Inquirer, Boston Phoenix, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, plus regularly review for WBGO at 88.3 FM, a NJ-based NPR affiliate with a jazz and NPR news and features format (www.wbgo.org). And I interview artsy fartsy folks in a column called “Brief Encounters” for Film Comment.
Finally, my son, Samson Jacobson, 30, is working gainfully in production currently on the locations of some pretty high profile films, including films for the Coens, Anthony Bregman, Scott Rudin Prods, Darren Aronovsky, a coming TV pilot, etc. Samson (name suggested by Samson Raphaelson, who sent him a nice note when he was born) really wanted into production, starting as an intern in Jonathan Demme’s office, then on to Jim Jarmusch and onwards. All I remember is on some production in Brooklyn on one of his early intern jobs, they needed 15 pizzas by 10:45 PM and it was 10:25… and he made it happen. Perhaps I exaggerate, but the spirit is right. So, papa is proud and wants to live long enough to see where this goes….
All best to all of you. Was there ever anywhere outside of Ben Hecht’s imagination like Variety, 46th Street?
RALPH TYLER (New York)
For the past couple of decades I’ve written 25 short stories published in literary reviews, mostly in college journals, not alas in the New Yorker. Despite that flaw, I think they’re good and deserve a collection. I’m looking for a literary agent to make that happen. No luck thus far. Does any mugg know of a likely agent, or a publishing house willing to take a look?
Otherwise, I’m healthy, happy, still married to the woman I love, and, yes, a bit smug. Dire fate may have me in its crosshairs.
To all, Happy New Year!
MARIE SILVERMAN MARICH (White Plains, NY)
Marie Silverman Marich and family remain ensconced in the New York ‘burbs where life is sweet and mostly uneventful. Marie is a housewife who does a lot of community volunteer work, which gets her back into publishing. Marie is the “queen” of souvenir programs for charity events. Don’t laugh. These raise thousands of dollars for hospitals, social service orgs and other charities. It’s not easy because one misspelled name and feathers get ruffled. Marie does this for many of the same charities that her late mother Jan supported.
Her son Nick is in a boarding school not far away that he loves, because he is big-man-on-campus. His interests are movies (runs in the family!) and Legos. Husband Bob is free-lance writing for college text books on media, including third edition of Marketing to Moviegoers coming out in February via SIU Press, and also a steady stream of free-lance articles for Variety.
DON GROVES (Sydney, Australia)
Happy New Year. Thanks for getting in touch. Here’s my update:
2012 was an eventful year as I started filing for Deadline.com Hollywood, which evoked memories of writing news stories for the Daily as I renewed my working relationships with Nancy Tartaglione, Kinsey Lowe, Mike Fleming and Madelyn Hammond, who are all ensconced at Deadline.
Deadline’s parent company, Penske Media Corp., subsequently bought Variety for a knockdown price, so I view the current Variety crew as corporate siblings. My other major gig is writing reviews, news and features and a weekly blog for SBS Film. My role at Deadline and ramping up my work at SBS to include news stories have compensated for the loss of two long-term engagements, writing for the Showtime movie networks’ website and newsletter to subscribers (that ended when Foxtel bought Showtime) and as the Foxtel Movie Critic. Such are the perils of freelancing in the modern era while “old” media shed staff, readers and advertisers.
I have nothing but fond memories of my 24 years with Variety (the unpleasant memories of my departure in 2005 have long since faded) and I hope the masthead will be revitalized under Penske’s watch. My daughter Claudie (who’s 21 in May) is studying media and communications at the University of Newcastle NSW and is getting distinctions and high distinctions so she is much brighter than I am and hopefully will have a successful career in media, possibly in radio as she works as a volunteer one day a week in the newsroom at the community radio station 2NRUR-FM, writing and reading news and sport bulletins. My other daughter Matilda (18) works for a building certification company while she figures out her further study/career options.
I salute Besa and Ian for maintaining Simesite as a forum and contact point for the current and former Variety “family.” Dogo
FRANK SEGERS (Tucson, AZ)
Happy New Year greetings to all my fellow “Old” Variety cohorts.
It gives me pleasure to note that with the sale of the Reed-Elsevier edition of Variety this year (at a mere fraction of the price commanded by the Silverman edition), we are now the “Old, “Old” Variety hands.
While not exactly “annus horribilis,” 2012 has not been my best year. A 12 months that ring out with hip replacement surgery cannot be counted as sensational.
Am doing well, and have (some) money and friends. So things can’t be all bad.
Best wishes for all good things in life in 2013.
PETE PRYOR (Jacksonville, OR)
Barbara and I are quite happily removed from Hollywood on our six acres on the Applegate River in Southern Oregon’s very rural Applegate Valley — lots of deer, Canada Geese, ducks, wild turkeys, fox, the occasional bear and mountain lion. We’re 15 miles upriver from the nearest town, Jacksonville, a national historic landmark from the Oregon gold-rush days and home of the annual months-long Britt Music Festival (everything from country to pop to classical in an outdoor setting). Another 10 miles gets us into Medford for movies, performing arts, etc., and another 15 miles to the south is Ashland and its annual Shakespeare Festival. Southern Oregon is really quite nice with four distinct seasons (24 degrees and snow this morning).
Both sons and their families (we welcomed our third grandchild Dec. 29 and also have a 10-year-old step-grandson, who is quite the soccer player) live on California’s North Coast, about a four-hour drive through the Illinois Valley and along the Smith River and down the Northern California coast; Barbara’s brother and his family live in Gig Harbor, WA, and my sister and her husband live on Lummi Island, WA, up near the Canadian border in the San Juan Islands. We do tend to drive a lot of miles!
I write, play classical guitar, go for long walks with our Siberian Husky; Barbara (a refugee from the still photography and filmed advertising world) is the visually inclined one — photography, drawing, painting.
Forty years of journalism — U.S. Navy, L.A. Times, Daily Variety, Media News Group, Hollywood Reporter — were, for the most part, enjoyable and rewarding. But so is “retirement.”
A Happy New Year filled with all good things to all!
FRED LOMBARDI (Elmwood Park, N.J.)
My book on Allan Dwan, Allan Dwan and the Rise and Decline of the Hollywood Studios, is now scheduled to be published in early 2013. Several factors have caused the delay and things are now in my corner as my publisher (McFarland & Co. Publishing) is waiting for me to correct the proofs, construct the index and return all that for printing. There have also been a couple of important developments to help promote the book.
It took almost a year for the book to be laid out in a form that integrates the text with over 150 illustrations. It was important to me that the pictures be used to help tell the story and not just appear in folders and I’m glad that McFarland was able to accommodate me. A number of things needed to be corrected after the editing and going through the book I realized that the index would require over 1600 entries. I also hit a big setback after Hurricane Sandy struck and I lost electrical power for nine days. (Fortunately, I had no damage to my residence.)There were lots of practical things for me to catch up with after that. But now I’m getting close to finishing.
Next June, the Museum of Modern Art will be conducting a retrospective of some of Allan Dwan’s films and I have been asked to introduce several of the screenings. I’ve also been working with MOMA in planning the series. The honorary Oscar-winning filmmaker and film historian Kevin Brownlow has read my proofs and was very pleased. He’s given me a nice blurb to use in promoting the book. Here is the link to my publisher’s site on the tome:
So I look forward to getting this published in 2013 and I hope enjoyed by all who read it.
Greetings and salutations to all Variety muggs near and far! My brother Michael Silverman is doing a great job with the magazine Vintage Motorsport. With Joan by his side, Dad now divides his time between Florida and Westchester (New York) and takes an active interest in car rallies. He no longer races himself, but Michael still drives. My youngest brother Matthew continues to write definitive books about sports, especially baseball, and especially his beloved New York Mets.
In conclusion, I wish you all a happy, healthy, and blessed New Year.
Marie Silverman Marich (Sax)
HY HOLLINGER (Los Angeles)
What a difference a year makes as age slowly creeps up. No need to review my ailments, but manage to live on. Gina had a tough year – a stroke, hospitalization, rehab and now with yours truly as caretaker.
Applying for the Motion Picture facility in Woodland Hills, CA and hope a one-bedroom unit becomes available in the next few months. We need assisted living.
In the meanwhile, time occupied watching screenings of Oscar contenders. Don’t understand why they provide captions for some of the screenings but not all. “Lincoln,” for example, needed captions. Couldn’t enjoy the film because the sound was so lousy. Books seemed to have vanished from my daily routine. Reading now confined to New York Times, LA Times and New Yorker. Political news is mainly from MSNBC. And it gets stupider each day as the GOP continues to play games. Despite the downbeat signs, looking forward to a pleasant 2013 and enjoy observing the lives and the progress being made by my former colleague pals. Miss you all. Have a wonderful 2013.
MARK ADAMS (London)
Hope all well…glad to see you are still busy with the old Simesite
In my world little seems to change. Am still chief film critic/reviews editor at Screen International and seem to be traveling constantly. Nice to bump into the likes of David Stratton and Deborah Young (amongst others) at various film festivals around the world, and naturally always interested to see what is happening over at Variety.
PETER BESAS (Madrid)
Somerset Maugham, when once told that everyone should do two things each day that he dislikes doing, answered, “I get up in the morning, and go to bed at night”. Such, too, is the case with me. And with each passing year, the hours seem to get later.
As with many of the muggs, I can say that I lead a life of leisure retirement and, like my friend Mort Bryer, take a certain pleasure from not having to rush out with the crowds to the train or subway station or car to rush out to some job in the wee hours of the morning. When my neighbors are turning on their lights at 6 a.m., I turn over in my bed for several hours more of shuteye. Then, when it behooves me to rise, I leisurely wander down into my nearby kiosk and buy my daily newspaper, followed by a leisure breakfast, and then putter around the house, read, write, study, clean my pipes or whatever. Later I take my constitutional in the park and in the evening watch some old black and white film or see the madness of the world on the boobtube. No stress.
Beyond my daily routine, I still do a lot of scribbling, and am fortunate in having a publisher in Madrid who not only prints but distributes the books I write to all major outlets in town. My latest effort (Oct. 2012) is a book on antiquarian Madrid bookdealers, nicely illustrated with black and white photos, written in Spanish, which seems to be selling quite nicely and is already in its second edition. It took me about two years to research and write it.
I also still travel for pleasure. No more Cannes or Mifeds or AFM’s, but instead I sally forth on car and train trips in Spain to places like Bilbao, San Sebastian, Seville, Jerez, Barcelona, Burgos and Gibraltar, and occasionally by plane to London, Paris and New York. High spots each week include seeing the family in Madrid, meaning my son Mark, his wife and my six-year-old granddaughter. Mark and I still work in tandem on book projects, and last year produced a special 8th edition of our popular offbeat guide to the city, “Hidden Madrid”, for which Mark re-took hundreds of photos.
In all, as you can see, I lead a pleasant, leisurely life far removed from the hectic world of show biz which I helped cover for 30 unforgettable years with Variety. But advancing age brings other compensating satisfactions. These may not be as exciting as trade journalism and covering the entertainment scene in Spain and other parts of the world for Variety, but they decidedly bring their own rewards, albeit of a more sedate nature, such as befit those who rise late in the morning and do not envy those still struggling to achieve what they consider to be “success” and “status”.
BRUCE ALDERMAN (New York)
This slipped through a busy holiday season for me – family and friends. Now as I write this, I realize that I’m late to work, so I’lll keep this short. When I think back to Variety, I remember that I was never “late” to “work” because the words “late” and “work” did not apply. Well, it never felt like work. Getting paid to see movies, go to lunch and dinner, and meet interesting, creative, successful people (as well as some colorful ones).
Thanks so much for keeping this going. As for my life today, it revolves around our 13 year-old son, and my long trips to and from Brooklyn to work. And work it is. No love, no pleasure. Just work. I get more satisfaction when I cook for the family and friends (hopefully they do too). And what do I do for work? I’m a lawyer (gasp) and as an assistant district attorney, I write appellate briefs for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and once in awhile argue them in court. Riveting stuff, such as “The Court did not abuse its discretion when it denied defendant’s motion to suppress the drugs.” Or, “Defendant’s motion should be denied without a hearing pursuant to C.P.L. Section 440.30(4)(b).” Or my all time favorite: “Padilla should not be applied retroactively.” Ah, Padilla. All this, and I get paid too! About what I got at Variety in 1992. And now I live in NY. Thank goodness my wife is a doctor or else I’d have to move in with Richard Gold (who by the way, I haven’t heard from since I moved to NY ten years ago). So thanks again for keeping this alive, and I’m off to work now.
Unfortunately, no reply received from the following:
Gerda Bologna, Les Brown, Sandy Campomanes, Ted Clark, Jeremy Coopman, John Dempsey, Tom Gilbert, Paul Harris, Nelson Hoineff, Steve Klain, Mike Malak, Todd McCarthy, Gerald Putzer, Dave Robb, Jim Robbins, Arlene Rosenstein, Nick Shteinfas, Mel Tobias, among others. Well, maybe, a few will come dribbling in in the next few days.