Simesite Year’s End Wrap

Madrid, Jan. 1, 2024

Another year has come to its close and we have managed to beat last year’s number of entries from the muggs, now totalling 20!

There were a few no-shows, such as the Fainarus, Mike Evans, Bill Grantham, Semantha Stenzel, Paul Rosovsky, and Mike Malak, but we hope that their absences have not been due to misfortunes.


Labor-beat maven Dave Robb passes

Los Angeles, Dec. 11, 2023

The dean of Hollywood trade newspaper reporters on the labor beat for decades, David Robb, 74, died Dec. 8 of inoperable brain cancer at his Los Angeles home. He was a mugg who worked at Daily Variety for a decade starting in 1982 covering labor unions, legal (especially labor law) and employment matters. 

Photo: Michael Fleming/Deadline

Ninety and still punching

By Robert Marich

While many muggs hang up their Underwoods with retirement, our Peter Besas celebrated his 90th birthday in Madrid with a self-printed booklet “Never Say, ‘The Last One.’” Besas (sig “Besa”) served as Madrid stringer and later bureau chief and Latin American Director of Operations for Variety from 1969 to 1999.


John Willis

April 25, 2023

We were sad to hear of the passing on April 16 in London of former Variety sales topper and one-time bureau chief John Willis. John had been admitted to a hospital a few days earlier, but then developed pneumonia. He died quickly and peacefully surrounded by members of his family. He was 86.


How Variety covered the networks: a reporter remembers

By Steve Knoll 

New York, Jan. 10, 2023

When I joined Variety in 1965 as a TV-radio reporter and reviewer (my signature was Knol.), the broadcast networks dominated the media landscape. I remember when I was assigned to cover a meeting of the cable TV industry association at the Statler Hilton Hotel. It didn’t even fill a small auditorium. There was plenty of room to spare. Today cable TV is a $94 billion business whose annual confab overflows the Chicago convention center.

The old Variety newsroom on 46th St. in the 1960’s.