Christmas soundtrack

Madrid, December 22, 2011

Heading into the Yuletide season, we figured it would be nice to touch base with the muggs all over the world. A good many have responded (some only after a bit of nudging) and we here post their replies, in the order that they were received.

We wish one and all Happy Holidays and especially good health in the coming year.

Ian Watkins & Peter Besas

So here are the replies received from:

Bob Hawkins
Lee Simkins
Jay Blickstein
Mark Thomas
Morrie Gelman
Ted Clark
Steve Knoll
Mort Bryer
Ralph Tyler
Marie Silverman & Bob Marich
David Stratton
Don Groves
Hy Hollinger
Paul Harris
Marge Prezioso
Mike Silverman
Frank Segers
Ron Wise
Mike Malak
Nick Shteinfas
Larry Michie
Gerry Putzer
Richard Gold
Nelson Hoineff
Elizabeth Guider
Peter Besas
Miscellaneous Scuttlebutt

BOB HAWKINS (Rome, Italy)
Couch Potato is about my speed. Anyhow, health not bad considering, but walks only occasional, tho including occasional visits to the Tiepolo Tavern across the street (known to many muggs over the years and still as feisty as ever in its mix of food fare) Much TV and DVDs, sporadic attempts to revive my career blog slowed down by waning typing energy and intermittent eye fatigue. Blessed by growing family: two boys for Frederick and Manuela (current New Yorkers) and one boy and two girls for Carolyn and Freek (current Viennese). Reading is first of all The New Yorker (no not digital, I wait for the feel of the pages), plus Italian and English fiction . My brave, talented first-born Christine lives and works here in Rome, and I see her when her busy work sked permits.That’s about it from the Hawk.

I wish I could say that I’ve retired and living a life of luxury in sunnier climes but I’m still in England and working very hard for a local construction company. We close down for the Christmas period and I have 12 days off – it’s been a busy year and I can’t wait! I look after our labour force of around 500 subbies, try to find them building sites to work on (we are on 100 sites over the South East of England), as well as looking after our fleet of 75 company vehicles. I also put together a monthly in-house publication that Ian Watkins lays-out and publishes for us through Asterisk. Ian also runs our website.
Christmas will be spent with my family but I hope to get a round of golf in at some stage as well as a couple of trips to the races.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

Jay Blickstein is currently a Managing Editor at Thomas Publishing Company LLC in New York, toiling in the vineyards of manufacturing and technology publications in print, Web and digital formats. He and the BW, Shelley (as Earl Wilson used to put it) visited Barcelona in September, and ate tapas till it was coming out of their ears. They also visited various Gaudí edifices, and spent a day lounging on the beach at Sitges.

Biggest thing in our lives this past year was the record flooding in Thailand. Although we managed to stay dry, the floodwaters got to within a couple kilometres of our neighborhood in Bangkok before starting to recede. During the year, about 30 per cent of Thailand’s land mass was hit by floods, affecting between 25-30 million people. Given that I work for UNICEF, I am still very busy responding to the needs of the many families who lost everything in the floods and who will need sustained support to rebuild their lives.
This past summer, we spent a fun month in the US visiting family in Colorado and Chicago, and also a week in San Francisco, a city I hope to spend a lot more time in some day. In February, I went to Athens for a week for a meeting, and although the Greek economy was on the verge of collapsing I can report that the Acropolis was still standing and that the Greeks were as warm and friendly as they were when I first visited Athens some 30 years ago.
That is about it for my 2011 highlights. I hope that all is well with you and the rest of the Muggs, and that you have a great holiday.

Living in semi retirement in the desert for the last five years. I serve as chauffeur and companion to my wife of 56 years as she continues to work for the Riverside County library system. I also work on two books, “The Short Of It,” the challenge of being less than average height, and “Last Horizon,” a collection of short stories. Researching and writing has resulted in many thousands of words. To say “enough” will leave me with little to do. I will leave it to my survivors to figure out what to do with my never-ending manuscripts.

TED CLARK (Valbonne, France)
Old (85 next stop) Ted Clark is still living in his village, a half-hour bus ride inland from Cannes. I take the bus from time to time for shopping in the winter. When the warm weather comes around April I drive down to a discrete beach, not on the Croisette, for a morning salt-water swim. It seems to do me good – I haven’t any health problems.
I keep away from the film festival, Mip-tv etc. My wife, Gillian, died in January this year. I have my three children, and six grandchildren, living on the coast. They keep in touch and come to see me from time to time. I’ll be eating Christmas dinner with my son in Cannes.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours, Don Pedro, and to all your Simesite readers. Ted.

I’m not doing anything nearly as exciting as those fictitious examples. I am an adjunct instructor with the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University.

Mort Bryer, former ad mugg at Variety‘s towering five floor edifice on posh West 46th St., Manhattan, continues to pursue his favorite hobby which consists of doing nothing.
Well, he does like to read, peruse his four boobtubes (this allows him to move as little as possible), and, of course, remain in the prone position.
Mort is a news freak and even catches Polish news, though he wishes the Poles would wise up and use English lingo titles, since he can’t speak Polish.
Greetings to his few friends and many enemies. Oh to hoisting a drink again, with some of the old gang, at Lindy’s bar, where we had the bartender properly bribed!

Should I mention the doctor from Afghanistan who lived in the same building as I did when I worked in London for the Encyclopedia Britannica in the early 1970s? He told me the old people amused him in his British hospital that clung to life past their usefulness. “In my country,” he said, “old people like that are sent up into the mountains to die of exposure.”
Death by exposure is one of the least painful ways of checking out, I’ve heard, but I’ll have none of it. I like my life in Hell’s Kitchen, with occasional trips to France with my wife of how many years? (We married in 1956 and it just keeps getting better), with a bar full of amiable personalities down the road for the pre-dinner glass of wine I allow myself, and my pre-breakfast session every morning, even Sundays, attempting to write a good short story.
I’ve managed to have about a dozen published over the years in college literary reviews (not The New Yorker). I’d like to make a book of them. Does anyone know an agent who might be interested? Yes, I’m working the room.
I don’t want to make my life sound too utopian. A lot of my time is spent in doctors’ waiting rooms or under the surgeon’s knife hoping to keep body and soul together. Only the body gets worked on, a man of the Enlightenment, I let my soul take care of itself.

Marie Silverman Marich and Robert Marich spent another fulfilling year in the Silverman ancestral homeland (aka White Plains NY) and both are active in publishing. As a fundraiser and community volunteer, Marie assembles and edits souvenir journals for charity events that are big moneymakers for the charity. The same local printer gets the contract to produce the booklets, and Marie finds the place like the production department at the old Variety with looming deadlines and wise-cracking employees. Bob—who stays away from the printer because he’s heard the stories—is free-lance writing, including articles for Variety, and some business analysis writing. The third edition of his book “Marketing to Moviegoers” will be published next year by SIU Press, and producing it ruined his summer!

Margaret Pomeranz, my co-star, and I celebrated the 25th on-air year of our programme “At The Movies” on October 26, with a special programme, recorded before a live audience, hosted by Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush (who did reasonably impressions of us). It rated hugely! We were also awarded the accolade of Living Legends (!) at the annual IF (Independent Film) Awards in Sydney late last month, the award presented by Stephan Elliott (director of THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA and EASY VIRUE).
Against my better judgment, we’ve signed up for another year (i.e. 45 more half hour film review programmes) for 2012. So that I won’t be too bored before we start up again in February, I’m hosting a ‘film festival’ on a cruise ship for 14 days (Sydney-main New Zealand ports – Sydney); a double-bill every afternoon. Should be fun – maybe.
Hope all’s well with you – pass on my warmest best wishes to all the Muggs.
Warmly, Strat

Since leaving Variety in 2005 when the Sydney bureau was closed after 30 years, I have worked for Southern Star in corporate affairs, written a movie blog for Greater Union, co-authored a book marking GU’s centenary, and served as the Editor, then as contributing editor, of the Singapore-based Television Asia Plus magazine.
This year I’ve been busy reviewing movies as the Foxtel pay-TV platform’s online movie critic; reviewing films and writing a weekly blog and occasional features for SBS Films; and writing reviews and opinion pieces as the Showtime movie channels’ online film writer.
I see Strat occasionally at previews, premieres and socially, and am in regular contact with Peter Cowie.
All the best to you and fellow muggs

HY HOLLINGER (Los Angeles)
What most people forget about retirement is that it’s also an ageing process. A late friend of mine, a Hollywood and Broadway director, put it succinctly: “The last act sucks.” Another late mate, a comedy writer (and a battery mate when we could pitch and catch), adhered to Andy Rooney’s theory: “writers never retire.” Here are a few lines from an e-mail he sent me before he passed away: ” It’s the computer Super-Bowl here, me against my left hand, which refuses to remember the keyboard, and keeps messing up and sabotaging everything my right faithfully enters. (I’ve had to correct every word so far, but that’s all part of the rehab process after a stroke.) When I first discovered that I had trouble moving my lips, I gave serious thought to becoming a ventriloquist, but I couldn’t find a talking dummy (except on Fox). All these damn medications make me feel lousy. And most frustrating of all, it’s affected my vision and I can no longer rely on my reading to keep me sane . So I have to depend on Palin and Bachman to keep me informed. They explain current events like Abbot & Costello explain baseball.”
Back to me. I miss the hubbub of a daily newsroom, the visits to Cannes and other fests and markets, and the comradery of colleagues. But, as they say, life goes on. My daily routine (except for doctor visits) consists of reading, the computer, television, shopping for food, and helping with meals. Recent reading includes “The Shrink and the Gumshoe: Nixon, Kennedy and the Secret History of the 1960 Election” by Dave Robb, former investigative reporter at Variety and The Hollywood Reporter; “The Secret History of Balls: The Stories Behind the Things We Love to Catch, Throw, Bounce, Whack, Kick and Bat” by Josh Chetwynd, a former THR reporter, and “Of Kings and Queens and Movie Stars: True Revelations of a Hollywood Publicist,” by Leonard Murpurgo, a publicist friend. Outside of industry-connected stuff, I just finished a 10-year-old classic “Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution,” a fascinating epic history by Simon Schama. Have about a half dozen books waiting in the wings. Wonder if I’ll ever get around to them.
This year Gina and I have been seeing a lot of award-contender movies. Gina is a member of the SAG nominating committee and has been receiving a batch of screeners. Among my favorites so far have been Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” “The Descendants” with George Clooney, Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer in “Beginners,” “Moneyball” with Brad Pitt, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” with Gary Oldman, “The Artist” with a great ensemble cast, Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” with Leonard DiCaprio, and Terrance Malick’s “The Tree of Life.”
Not doing much writing. I contribute occasionally to Joe Morella and Frank Segers classic movie blog which Simesite ought to check out for a fun tour of old Hollywood. E-mail and Facebook takes up some casual writing time.

PAUL HARRIS (Washington, D.C.)
Still keeping busy as a Washington, D.C.-based freelance writer, including legit stories/reviews for Variety and occasional coverage for other sections. Karen and I did a two-week tour of Alaska in June, the experience of a lifetime. I highly recommend it. Looking forward to teeing it up someday soon with the Silverman twins. It’s been too long.

I still enjoy checking in on Simesite from time to time. At this time I am still working as a teacher aide at Boces (tech high school) in NY where I am still able to use my layout and pasteup skills workng on flyers, journals etc. but with an extra added bonus, working with kids. I am now a grandmother. My daughter has three children 4, 2 and & newborn, My son has a daughter eiighteen monts old. My son is a music teacher and my daughter teaches 3rd grade. This leaves our family with the summer off so we get lots of time to spend together. I am planning on retiring next June (2013) I will be 66 then, I can’t belive it! Balan ladies still get together for dinner. Love to all. Happy Holidays and thanks for being part of my life, I will never forget you.

Mike Silverman (– Mich. to muggs) in August 2012 bought out Syd Silverman’s controlling interest in Vintage Motorsport magazine, the bimonthly “Journal of Motor Racing History.” Unlike many other print titles, VM is surviving the downturn quite nicely, with ad pages and total folio up over previous years.
Mike is still dabbling in editorial, writing news items and other analysis for the weekly VM electronic newsletter, website and news columns. With Syd having retired from his primary hobby of vintage racing, all the old race cars have been sold off. However, Mike enjoyed racing his pal’s 1954 Jaguar XK120 at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Laguna Seca Raceway last August, where he finished 5th out of 35 historic race cars in the 5B run group. In his limited spare time, Mike still enjoys golf on Saturdays, playing to a middling 14 handicap. Mike is also active in organizing the annual “Wheels of Wellness” vintage race car showcase for charity, which last year raised more
than $60,000 for Phoenix charities. Mike’s wife of 29 years, Adrienne, has been busy with her business partner developing the Psychic Library website ( which is now up and running on the web. Son Bryan is based in Dallas, where he starts a new job Jan. 1 with a health publishing company. Puppy Bailey (mini dachsund) runs the household in Scottsdale, AZ where she claims all food below knee level and keeps a sharp eye out for UPS deliverymen.

2011 was a very active year for me. I received a Nobel Prize for literature, and now spend most of the time on lecture tours. The money is rolling in like never before……
No, not really. But I certainly can’t complain.
Am semi-retired these days, still slogging away a couple of days a week contributing a weekly international gross column for The Hollywood Reporter, which lists me among several “contributing editors.”
Oh, my!
Barbara and I live in the arts capital of the world, Tucson, Arizona. (Hey, the climate in winter is great.) Our son Matt and daughter-in-law, Erin, live in McLean, Virginia, right near (pardon the expression) Washington, D.C. Our hope is that they will some day depart that den of iniquity and move West.
The joy of our lives is granddaughter Eleanor, who will be two years old in July 2012. She is visiting our home for the first time this Christmas, so much merriment — and mayhem — is in store.
A special treat in 2011 was partnering with Joe Morella — who also lives in Tucson and is a former Variety mugg — in the formation of our classic movie website,WWW.CLASSICMOVIECHAT.COM
We started in April, and now are drawing about 150 readers daily five days a week. The site keeps us both very busy.
Joe and I are avid classic movie fans, and have access to his great photo collection compiled through the years, augmented by a special bequest from the late Donald Gordon (who was at one time the late John Madden’s New York landlord).
Donald worked at Columbia Pictures as a stand-in/actor in the early Forties, and took some great informal shots of a range of Hollywood personalities of the period. Great stuff.
So, when you have a second or two, pls click on WWW.CLASSICMOVIECHAT.COM, and enjoy.
Seasonal greetings to you all.

RON WISE (Chicago)
Being retired is doing the things you want to do, not the things you have to do. I cashed in all my chips last year and my wife and I moved from Los Angeles back to the Chicago area, once again getting close to family and old friends. On my first visit to downtown, I walked past the Wrigley Building and with a certain amount of nostalgia looked up at the window that was in the days of yore the Variety office in Chicago. Les Brown, Morry Roth, Vita Licata – greatl people and wonderful memories. However, the city no longer holds the same fascination as it did when I was young, so upon my return last year I purchased a house in a far northern suburb. A very peaceful setting called Hawthorn Woods where all the houses sit on one acre of land without fences. It’s sort of like living in a large park. The freedom of retirement has enabled me to pursue in a serious way some longtime interests – 3D (stereo) photography and astronomy in particular. All in all, life is pleasant and at last stress free.
Variety Chicago Bureau

MIKE MALAK (Los Angeles)
Last year helped retain the jobs of ninety-one Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) librarians who were fired, no doubt, to improve District scores on standardized tests. Would like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, to win Best Picture and Saoirse Ronan to win Best Actress for Hanna. Have fond memories of 100th Anni Party at Sardi’s. Thanks, again, Syd. May all DAVARIANS and World Staffers have an interesting and prosperous New Year.

Hope all’s well with you et al.
I am in New York, working on Wall street helping 1 percenters to count their money.
Went places a bit – The Old Russky land was gloomy, Finland was sleepy, Ecuador was just great.

Virginia and I are happily ensconsed in our abode in Hadley, Mass., a stone’s throw from UMass and Amherst. We plod along having a good time. I play golf (badly) in warm weather and force myself to take long walks when it’s cold (it’s only a little above zero at the moment). I’ve been helping out with Frank Segers at, contributing a blog of sorts called books2movies, comparing original books with their film counterparts. It can be a tricky business, but a lot of fun.
In recent winters I have entertained myself with reading projects. Last winter I read all the Civil War books written by Shelby Foote. I actually learned quite a bit, which was a little embarrassing, as presumably all Yanks ought to be knowledgeable about such things. This winter my project is to read all of the Palliser novels of Anthony Trollope. Great fun, although the British absorption with social rank and wealth can get a bit tiresome. We Yanks are only somewhat obsessed with rank, but we sure would like some more money.
Cheers to Simesite and to all the merry band.

Not much to report except that I still have a paying job in journalism. Actually, I have about four jobs at the Daily News for the (diminishing) price of one, since we’re now a “platform agnostic” 24-hour news operation that “happens to put out a print newspaper at the end of the day.”
I’ve been at the News for 18 years now, which is twice as long as my time at Variety. I’m an editor in the entertainment/lifestyle/gossip department, so I’m actually not so far removed from the old days on 46th St. and 32nd St.
My oldest child, Adam, is in a three-piece rock band in Buffalo — the Tins — and they’re finishing up their first album. My youngest, Amanda, is about to graduate with a teaching degree but is considering nursing school since America no longer needs teachers — and she’s getting married next September. My middle child, Jon, is working as a surveyor, and my wife Ilona is still managing a women’s clothing store.
Where I used to see 200-300 movies a year, now it’s down to about 3. Go books!

I’m an Adjunct Professor of English at Pace University in Manhattan, teaching writing through film studies. Also teach writing, media studies and art history at the University of Phoenix in Jersey City, and TV news magazine producing at New York Film Academy; also working on my second novel, loosely based on my experiences as a national TV news magazine producer.
Here’s hoping all is well with you. Thanks for your interest.
All best and feliz Navidad!

NELSON HOINEFF (Rio de Janeiro)
Over the last year, I have done a couple of things; I produced a series for Canal Brasil called “Boca do Lixo”, on the traditional neighborhood in São Paulo where the Brazilian production of pornochanchadas (softcore porno films),(but also serious pics like the ones by Khoury or Reichenbach) was very active in the 70s and 80s. Also for Canal Brasil, I produced a 26 min. documentary on Antonio Meliande, himself a very popular filmmaker at Boca do Lixo. I also produced two series for TruTV: “Marcados Para Morrer” (Marked to Die) and “Teoria da Conspiração” (Conspiracy Theory). Both are still in production, due for release in April 2012. I finished a full length documentary on singer Cauby Peixoto, called “Cauby – começaria tudo outra vez”. (Cauby, I’d Start It All Over Again). I was very active at the IETV (Instituto de Estudos de Televisão). Our events last year included the Festival Internacional de Televisão 2011, which is quite big now, in its 8th edition (see it at I am also teaching a lot, and became coordinator of Audiovisual at Facha (a university in Rio). I have been writing on films for www.crí, and on media for
Maybe a did a couple of other things, which now escape my memory.

After leaving The Hollywood Reporter a year or so ago, Elizabeth has been freelancing, mostly for World Screen News, and writing her first novel. It’s a love story set mostly in Italy in the late 70’s, against the backdrop of extraordinary political ferment. Now for the hard part, she says: getting it published!

After close to eight years of work, I have just finished my book on film pioneer and director Allan Dwan. Dwan’s enormously proflic career took place during the first half-century of the film industry and his life offers a personal story of how that industry began, flourished and then changed. The book is titled ALLAN DWAN AND THE RISE AND DECLINE OF THE HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS and will be published by McFarland & Co. Inc. Publishers in the spring or summer of 2012.
Finishing the book was made much more difficult by the fact that my father became terribly ill in late 2010 and was hospitalized for most of the time until his death in April 2011.
So I’m hoping that 2012 will be much kinder to all of us.

Aside from the minimal effort of occasionally overseeing Simesite, this Hispanicized mugg has spent most of the year writing, reading and doing some travelling. I’m currently finishing a book on antiquarian book dealers in Madrid, being myself a collector of old travel books on Spain, which will be published here in Madrid early next year. Meanwhile sales of some of my previous books, especially “Hidden Madrid”, a sort of offbeat, anecdotal guide to the Spanish capital is still selling briskly four years after its initial publication. (It was co-written with my son, Mark, and was followed up by a “Hidden Madrid 2”, both in English and Spanish versions).
As for travel, this year’s jaunts included a pleasant trip to Paris to rendezvous with some CCNY college friends who live in Europe, a recent trip to London, where I touched base with Zoe Hoenig, John Willis and the Graffiti lads, and a springtime trip to Barcelona and the Catalan countryside, and another in the fall to Jerez de la Frontera and Gibraltar.
In Madrid I spend a great deal of time with my son, daughter-in-law and five year old grandchild, take daily “constitutionals” in the local park and liberally partake of the pleasures of the table, rising late and never hitting the sack before about 1 a.m.

Though a good many muggs have failed to reply, we have cobbled together the following tidbits.
Deborah Young is chief foreign film reviewer for The Hollywood Reporter and is also the head of a well-known Italian film festival. (Taormina)…
Amy Dawes is freelancing in L.A. and appears frequently in the L.A. Times…
John Willis is living the life of a country squire with his wife Lynne on his property outside London. He’s in good shape, plans to do some Christmas carolling in his neck of the woods on the Eve of Christmas and will occasionaly fly to his apartment in the Canary Islands next year…
Jack Kindred, following a knee operation in Munich, is now in a retirement home in Germany…
Syd Silverman and wife Joan are still spending their winters in their home in Boca Raton, FL and their summers in White Plains, NY…
Harlan Jacobson continues to run his Talk Cinema operation which programs film buff screenings in different theatres around the country…
Les Brown still living up in Larchmont, NY and doing OK…
Pat Watkins continues to live in comfortable retirement in Birchington, England, with frequent visits to her sons Andrew and Ian and her grandchildren. Ian runs a design business in Covent Garden, in the tourist heart of London, a short walk from Soho and theatreland… From all the others we get only Silence.