Dec. 22, 2014

As we near the year’s end, here is a round-up of what some of the muggs have been doing since we last ran this annual entry. In all, we’ve received 21 replies, which ain’t bad, but is fewer than the previous year.

In the event we receive others in the coming weeks, we’ll post the latecomers in mid-January.

Here, then, in the order in which they were received, are the “magnificent 21”. Be sure to scroll down to the end, where Mark Silverman has included some pics of Syd.

Included are the replies that came from:



Chicago, Dec. 3

Greetings of the season!
I was remiss last year, will send in a report this year. Last winter was a brutal one in Chicago, had mobility problems like most folks, friend seriously ill.

Thanks for keeping us all in touch. I will go back in archives and look up last year’s postings. Life is good, still loving my glorious city, my interesting friends and wonderful nabe. I keep very busy.
Going to ride the Santa train today on the local CTA line with a friend, her daughter and grandkids. It’s fun and life needs to be fun.


(Never did get that follow-up. PB)


San Diego, Dec. 3

Great to hear from Senor Besas!

Michael Evans, former Publishing Director of Variety, Daily Variety, Daily Variety Gotham and with stints in Variety’s Chicago, Los Angeles (2x) and New York bureaus, continues to reside in the Alpine Mountains just outside America’s and Mexico’s Finest City San Diego. Evans celebrated his nineteenth wedding anniversary for former Daily Variety, Variety and On Production sales-type Diane (Smith) – her dad is/was formerly owner of in-house production/graphics company housed in Daily Variety’s LA offices – along with son Tyler (16) and daughter Kennedy (13) and two German Shepherds!

Evans is the Associate Publisher of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles, plus plays an executive role (under same ownership) with KUSI-TV and hosts the weekly cooking and design segments for the last five years. He thoroughly enjoys the architectural and design elements of San Diego, as well as working with these trades to produce stunning photography layouts and features in the monthly magazine. Some highlights of SDHGL’s 2014 double-digit revenue growth came from introducing new 35-page special ad section in the December issue – a skill honed at the heels of one Morton Bryer!

Evans also is on the Board of Directors for C.R.M.A. (City Regional Magazine Association). During our Westchester County CRMA Conference last year, Evans meet up with Mark Silverman for a wonderful get-together. We went down memory trail, so we’re any of your ears burning?

Happy Holidays


Rebecca Lieb

New York, Dec. 3
Hiya! It’s so great to be back on the list after an email change dropped me into oblivion for a few years. Attached is a very recent photo (last weekend) – and a few words about what I’ve been up to – though I’d much rather hear everyone else’s news!

Life remains all media, all the time, only the media I cover now are digital. After serving as editor-in-chief for a variety of digital marketing and advertising trade pubs, I’ve moved into a research analyst role at Altimeter Group where I cover digital media and marketing. We’re one of the hot Silicon Valley boutique research outfits, but I’m still firmly rooted in NYC (when you own real estate here, you hold on to it!). I do spend a good amount of time in the Bay Area – anyone out there?

I’ve produced a couple of books: one on search, the more recent tome on content marketing.

There’s more about all the professional stuff on my web site:

My first love was and remains film, and thanks to the internets, I watch (almost) as many as I did at Variety. My writing, however, has by necessity followed the filthy lucre.

I’d loved to hear from MUGGS, particularly those passing through New York. And a special Grüß Gott to Jack Kindred, without whose good graces I never would have become a part of this august forum in the first place.

All my very best to each and every one of you,


Los Angeles, Dec. 3.

Peter: Always a pleasure trading Emails with you. I don’t like goulash and probably would be afraid to try a hot air balloon. What I did do follows:

In my late stage of life, I’m trying to grow my vocabulary. Don’t get more wrong, I have plenty of English words to get me through the rest of my days. It’s Yiddish vocabulary I’m working to expand.

Yiddish was the language of my parents. They spoke it to each other. They listened to Yiddish programs on radio. To their six children, they attempted to converse in English. But when it came to money talk or who did what to whom it was Yiddish the language of choice to shield the kids from domestic problems.

I heard enough Yiddish spoken at home to pick up a few words. The language is rich, colorful, wonderfully expressive. It’s a combination of several languages, mostly German.

My father had a vast store of curses in Yiddish. They weren’t said maliciously. Instead they grew out of frustration. For example one of the mild ones: Neme un a miesseh meshuneh. Take on a terrible end. Or there was one of my favorites: Ich hob dich in bod. I despise you. Another: fardrai zich dem kop mein es mine. Mix up your head and believe it’s mine.

This last one got me in a bit of trouble when I was with Crain Communications. Working out of Hollywood, dealing with a picky lady editor in Chicago, I suddenly blurted out, “Farradi zizh dem kop mein es mine.”

She brought me up on charges of cursing her in a foreign language. My bosses accepted my translation and explanation. I lived to “curse” another day.

This year I’ve been trying to increase my Yiddish vocabulary beyond expressions my father taught me.

Meanwhile Zeit gezunt. Meh vet zich zen: So long, be well, see you again. MOG


Rome, Dec. 4

The Hawk has slowed down at 90 but is still quite mobile thanks to TV and computer and a vital bistrot across the street to help entertain ever-growing fambly of si grandkids. Thanks and all best to Besa for his valuable updates


Sydney, Dec. 4

My big news is that, after just over 28 years, Margaret Pomeranz – who you met in Madrid – and I pulled the plug on our ABC television film review programme, At The Movies. You can probably find reactions if you Google with our names – I’m hopeless at supplying links. It was quite a big deal here in Australia.

I’m still reviewing for The Australian and will continue to do so, and still lecturing on Film History at Sydney Uni and, again, will continue. I’m also hosting film screenings on cruise ships – last July on a cruise from Southampton to Iceland, Norway and back to Southampton and next July on a Mediterranean cruise that sails from Barcelona to Istanbul. Keeps me off the streets!

All best wishes,


White Plains, NY, Dec. 5

Marie’s effervescent personality will soon be lighting up TV sets across White Plains, NY.
Marie Silverman Marich is hosting a local access cable show in connection with White Plains Beautification, which is a foundation and volunteer org. Of course, Marie’s mother was a model before her marriage; and her grandmother a vaudevillian, Broadway dancer and Hollywood movie star, so it runs in the family.

Robert Marich continues to free-lance, including for Variety on finance/marketing topics, and writing non-fiction books on media. Son Nick Marich is at boarding school nearby and enrolled in college.
We three visit Syd in Florida a couple of times a year.

We wish everyone Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!


Norwalk, CT. Dec. 10

That “non activities” jumped off the screen, since that happens to be my hobby. Ever since the day I upped anchor, almost 20 years ago, from dear old Variety.

I guess the salient experience of the year was meeting the editor of the Simesite, Peter Besas ( aka Pedro ) in “the city” after he popped over from swinging Madrid, for a short stay last May. Needless to say, we met at a bar, true muggs that we are. Pete’s Tavern, to be exact, an old line Nu Yawk City pub, opened in 1864 and used as a water hole, by O. Henry. After a swig at this bar, we headed for The Village to check out old sites, from our semi youth. Cigar smokers, we hunted down a bar, where we were allowed to puff up at an outside table, but that treacherous rascal Mother Nature, turned on a faucet and it rained pussy cats and pooches. Driven inside, we had to dump our ropes, it hurt!

Post this, we decided to have dinner in the old and famous Oyster Bar, in Grand Central Station, very convenient pour moi, since I just had to stagger a hundred yards or so to my choo choo. A warning, the grub in this place is excellent, but the noise level is bloody awful, I barely caught most of the words of wisdumm from Peter.

I did one more trip into the city in June, went to an auction of WW2 memorabilia, at Bonham’s and, quite interesting, a German enigma coding machine went for close to 100 grand and a chunk of wreckage for the plane Hess landed in in Scotland, post him going bonkers, also went for big bucks. If anybody is curious and is a history buff, he can check out the catalog. The auction date was June 5.

Otherwise, beyond a ton of trips to booze stores, “grocery stores” and one trip to Jersey to visit with an old friend, an English gal, who comes from “Fawlty Towers” country.

Needless to say, I ponder on how civilized it was, back in the good old days at Variety, a happy place to work. No brickbats please, we churned out a few 600 page plus issues.


Los Angeles, Dec. 12.

In late October we had a fire that greatly damaged most of the house and killed more than a dozen animals, including ten cats. My son Andrew, who had a clear escape, stayed behind to get me running from a black cloud of poisonous smoke that fell like a movie theater curtain at double-time. We were the only ones home when the fire started in the early afternoon. Subsequently, we were housed in a hotel, filled with Brazilian college exchange students, until we obtained a house in the vicinity for the next year, or so. I no longer feel guilty about all those books I had intended to read because they, really, weren’t much help in this situation. For the literary, and simply curious, Disney’s comic, “Donald in Math Magic Land,” wrapped in a weathered plastic cover, was the only book to survive intact, a first edition that refused to join his numerous conferers. Joan of Arc, whose image has graced our entry way for decades revisted her destiny. She was as beautiful, once again, in death as she was in life.

Art was hard hit, as were all contents. I understand better, now, the liberation brought about by being materially unencumbered but would have preferred to have more theoretical and less practical experience in this matter. It will take a year, or more, to rebuild.

As for work, the LGBT case of last year resolved favorably. [!] We are unengaged.

I am still looking for my 100th Anniversary mugg. We will return to our regular Christmas broadcasting in due course.

Merry Christmas,
Happy Holidays,


Tel Aviv, Israel, Dec. 16

Delighted to see you still have the energy and determination to keep nostalgia alive and prove that past is not entirely dead, well, at least not quite and not yet.

Since you seem actually eager to know whether we’re still alive and kicking, yes, we are, sort of. That is, I am still reviewing regularly from festivals for Screen, Edna is still consulting festivals, which means we’re travelling like mad, far too much, if you ask me, given the quality of present day airlines. We’re still doing the only film magazine in Israel, Cinemathèque, and we’ve just programmed a boutique film festival in the desert, midway between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea. In other words, we’re keeping as busy as we know how, but in the process, despairing at the sight of people watching Kubrick’s Space Odyssey on a portable phone.

Hope you’re as perky as ever, and here is wishing you and all the muggs a great 2015.


Los Angeles, Dec. 16.

Sorry . Nothing to report. Lousy year. Hope all’s well at your end.


New York, Dec. 16.

First, three cheers for Peter and Ian for keeping the Simesite going. Second, I’m still living in New York with my French wife, so France is always close to home, so to speak. Plus, we take the yearly vacation there in July. I’m still working for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office but a helluva lot has changed. A new D.A., Ken Thompson, has injected a sense of logic (and big raises), ethics, and justice (did I mention raises?).

I am in a new unit, Conviction Review, which… reviews convictions. It’s about investigating and reviewing old cases to determine if a defendant had been wrongfully convicted. One of my reviews* led to the release of a man who had been wrongfully convicted of murder nearly 20 years ago. For the first time in eight years, I can say that I am proud of what I am doing and for whom I am doing it (did I mention the, never mind).

Other than that, I keep a close eye on the film business and am also proud to say that a close friend of mine has the movie adaption of her graphic novel, The Diary of a Teenage Girl going to Sundance. I’ve known the author since we were at school together in the south of France in (gulp) 1982. I also know the director, Marielle Heller, who is one helluva talent, and comes from a very talented family. Her sister, Emily, is a stand-up comic, her brother is in a rock band, and her husband was Andy Samburg’s partner on SNL and is a familiar face on television. On the other hand, me and my family are talentless and are familiar faces only at the local bar (couldn’t resist). In fact, we like dining out once a week, and that’s about it. I stand by my comment about being talentless, however.

Speaking of family, my son, Liam, is now 15 and in full teenage mode. He is totally uninterested in show business and the law. Which, one could argue, is a very good thing. My French wife is thriving as a pediatrician for Columbia Presbyterian and thinks that my boss, Ken Thompson, is a hero (raises aside) – he’s the attorney who represented the maid who was allegedly raped by Strauss-Kahn. She read a book about the case and is absolutely convinced that Thompson is the greatest person in the legal profession. That works out for me, considering that he is now my boss.

I tried to give my wife a copy of Peter Besas’ epic tome about the history of Variety to see if she would have the same reaction about my former boss, Syd, but she claims that she has a “long” list of books that she has to read first, but she promises that once she finishes the list, Peter’s book will be the next one she reads. So, maybe next year, I will have something to report about that. Until then, I look forward to reading about the muggs and reminiscing about what are still among my fondest memories, even though I came around at the end of the golden era. Keep well everyone, and until next year (if not earlier).

PS – I have now been in N.Y. for 14 years and have yet to meet up with Rich Gold (ball in your court, Gold).

*Not to be confused with what a movie critic writes.


New York, Dec. 17

In November, I quit the NY Daily News, which is where I worked since ankling Variety on 32nd St. in 1993. I am now a news editor at International Business Times, a Web-only publication. It’s not just business — everything from the Dow Jones to Game of Thrones. It’s a strange world not having to fit headlines or text to space on a page — but I’ll manage.


Sydney, Dec. 18

Season’s greetings to my former colleagues and indeed all muggs from sunny Sydney where, as I write, the city is still in shock and grieving the deaths of two innocent people after a 17-hour siege in the Sydney CBD. A shocking and previously unthinkable act by a deranged man who, incredibly, had been released on bail despite facing charges of being an accessory to his ex-wife’s murder and of sexually assaulting numerous women.

On more mundane matters, I am still gainfully employed as a senior journalist with Inside Film magazine (6-times a year, one of the few print survivors) and website. I also cover Australia and New Zealand for London-based C21 Media and the Oz home entertainment business for Melbourne-based Screen Print’s website. I review the occasional Australian film for Film Journal International.

My wife Jenny and I went back to the UK in late May, joining our daughter Claudie (22) who spent four months as an exchange student at the University of Leeds. We had a fabulous three weeks catching up with friends in Blighty, then visiting Edinburgh, the Highlands, Paris and Montreux (staying with our friends Peter and Francoise Cowie), culminating with five days in Lucca, our first taste of Tuscany, which was splendid.

Claudie finishes her media/comms degree at the University of Newcastle, NSW, in mid-2015. Her sister Tilda (20) is studying nursing at the same university.

All the best to the muggs for the holidays and a happy, healthy and peaceful 2015.



Los Angeles, Dec. 18

The last time we communicated, I had just launched my own Los Angeles-Hollywood-Beverly Hills sightseeing tour company, Hollywood Classic Tours. I’m happy to report that in one year we have 82 Five Star reviews on TripAdviser and are now ranked as one of the Top 20 city tours here in Los Angeles (among hundreds!). While showing customers around, I always drive by the former Variety building at 5700 Wilshire Blvd. and tell them a story or two about Variety, Army, the Silverman family, etc. Other than that, my wife, Noriko, and I are still enjoying pretty good health. As I write this, I turn 62 years old tomorrow (12-19). Whew! THAT sure arrived in a hurry! I still think of my many years at the paper and the late muggs who made a lasting impact on my life — Jim Harwood, Will Tusher, Woody Wilson, Joe X. Price and the list goes on and on. I hope all is well with everyone in the world of Simesite. As JFK ended all of his correspondence:

With every good wish.


Norman Scherer

New Jersey, Dec. 20

My fourth year living in New Jersey with my love Sharon and her three kids. Her kids have been bonding good with my two kids Jake and Eve. It’s going to be a nice family.

Been making money selling for Tweeds Dry Cleaning in Morristown and Madison while building my next business.

My business model revolves around 5000 manufacturers that drop ship and buying groups that get discounted by virtual marketing coins.

A few months ago I stated attending an entrepreneur roundtable at Microsoft. I met my new boss who hired me as sales rep for Novaux, who created a pos (point of sale) terminal for restaurants that now can take bitcoins and credit cards.

So I’m now working with food companies who discount my restaurant and food retailer accounts in my buying group. I am doing tasting and testing events that are sponsored by food manufacturers.

These happenings have contests using food bloggers, caterers and chefs that sample different types of food and drink. The buying group pays manufacturers and wholesalers in bitcoins so all companies that want to work with us must accept digital currency.

My marketing ideas started churning and now I’m a partner in the start up. Check out the site I’m building currently at We should be launching between March and summer. Exciting to be back down in Wall Street.

Bitcoin is a great way to get me back into a revolutionary mindset. As I age I must keep my mind and spirit young.

Happy as can be, and wishing all muggs a happy holiday and a prosperous 2015.


Rural Oregon, Dec. 20

Hard to believe another year has gone by, though my wife, Barbara, always maintains on her birthday “I’m 39 again!”

We’re enjoying the slower pace of rural Oregon life (“traffic” more often than not consists of getting stuck behind a local farmer driving his John Deere at 20 mph down the winding two-lane on the way into town. Small tradeoff for lots of local access to organic produce and beef and sure beats the hell out of Southern California freeways (aka parking lots).

Still playing classical guitar, working with a local writers’ group, dissuading the wild turkeys from gathering on the porch (messy little buggers), tending to the acreage, fly-fishing the river that runs through our property.

The sons and their families (three grandchildren) live on the California North Coast, about a four-hour drive, so that’s nice. We also have family in Gig Harbor and Seattle, Washington, and on Lummi Island in the San Juan Islands up by the Canadian border. A 30-mile drive gives us access to films, theatre and concerts so we’re out and about fairly often. Sold one of our two properties in California (Yay!). All in all, life is good!

Best wishes to all the muggs for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!


Northampton, MA, December 20

Looking at our last year report, the Michie news seems much the same again this year. However, I’m happy to report that last year’s unhappy news of Larry’s diagnosis of Alzheimers did not affect his golf game and he was able to play every day the course was open from mid-April thru most of November. Now he’s on his every-other-day schedule of a five-mile walk (hilly & arduous) and I accompany him on his alternate-day schedule of a two-mile walk — not as much fun as golf but presumably keeps him fit for next year’s golf.

We did manage to self-publish another novel of Larry’s — available on Amazon: The Wars of Warren Temple by Laurence Michie. This one is a Civil War western (assuming there’s such a category) and it is my favorite because it in no way relates to our lives except for the fact that we did tour some Civil War sites many years ago. It’s exciting to see a book come together but I’m not planning to do another one this winter because I become grumpy and obsessive over the details and it seems to make more sense to enjoy our time together while we can be doing things that make us both happy. Which means…

We had various batches of company this year, family as well as friends which included Barbara & Frank Segers for several very pleasant days before they went on to NYC. I would have been quite envious of their NYC trip except we knew we would be visiting NYC a couple of months later — the first time we’d been back since 2005 and what wonderful fun. If it weren’t so insanely expensive, we’d move back in a heartbeat. We were there for Thanksgiving and stayed with our friends who were our next-door neighbors in NY and who also have a cottage here in Western Mass. We walked miles and miles visiting the new World Trade Center (Freedom Tower), Hudson River Park and the new HyLine as well as the parks along the Brooklyn waterfront (all new since our last visit). Went the Met, the Frick and the NY Historical Society Museum, also to Jazz at Lincoln Center, ate in one of Barbara’s restaurant recommendations, yum, yum, and got lucky with several other restaurant choices — pure delight and over too soon.

And this coming year we’re planning a spring visit to friends in California and Seattle and as many other trips to previous haunts as seems feasible. How we’ll work that in with golf remains to be seen but for now, that’s the game plan.

Best wishes to one and all.


New Canaan, CT. Dec. 20

Mark Silverman

Greetings to all the muggs, past and present. I often feel like a bit of a voyeur when I visit Simesite, kind of like looking at your high school yearbook, remembering simpler times. I did enjoy reading Blake Murdoch’s letter back to the Sydney office in 1989 or so, which was like a time capsule back to the “new people” era. Blake refreshed many details I had overlooked or missed, and it’s fun sometimes to do an out-of-body experience through someone else’s eyes. The Marty Feldman/Arthur Anderman period, however brief, was quite unsettling to many, to say the least, and Blake managed to hit my “Reset” button with that.

Since I’m not sure who wants to know what, I’ll do a general “flyover” of what Pam and I are up to. Pam is in her 7th year of online advertising sales, currently for I am approaching my 7th year of higher math as a Financial Advisor (we used to be called brokers in the 70s) at Merrill Lynch in Greenwich, CT, and Pam and I are still in the same house in New Canaan, CT, where we raised our four kids. Our youngest, Olivia, is in her senior year of high school and is going to Connecticut College in New London next fall, playing D-III squash, high jump and hurdles. So we are almost empty nesters, except for the dog.

Silverman family

Oldest daughter Carolyn is 26 and working in marketing and client sales at K2 Advisors, a hedge fund owned by Franklin Templeton, in Stamford, CT, and reverse commutes to her 6th floor walkup in the East Village of NYC. #1 son Alex is 24 and still figuring out what he wants to do when he grows up, but we are patient parents. He has great people skills, which counts for a lot. Daughter Melanie is just back from Colgate Univ. junior fall abroad in Barcelona, and has now seen more of Europe than I ever did, even basing in London for a year with Roger Watkins & Co. Melanie interned this past summer for the new owners of Variety, Penske Media, in the New York office, which if that’s not coming full circle, I don’t know what is.

Pam and I celebrate our 30th anni in 2015. We went to Cannes on Amex miles for our 20th, and I introduced her to the world’s greatest pizza at La Pizza in the Old Port. It was fun to do Cannes as a tourist, instead of a glorified pressman. Any suggestions for our 30th, I’m all ears.

I quit smoking on Valentine’s Day, 2008, the day I went in to interview with UBS for their training program. Haven’t touched one since. I’ve put on a few pounds since then, but it helps me continue to clobber a golf ball further than I deserve. I’m down to a 5 handicap if you know how hard that is to do. In winter, I have taken up doubles squash, which is like a golf foursome with racquets, inside an enclosed room, with trash talking and a rock-hard rubber sphere flying around at excessive speeds.

As I write this, my twin brother Michael is visiting Syd and Joan in Boca Raton, FL. I talk with Dad and Joan once a week or more, and visit 3 or 4 times a year. They are year-round in Boca now. Dad has lost a step or two from the “old days” but is still on task and brightens whenever we visit, as I think it breaks up the routine of the everyday. He will be 83 next month.

Pam and Syd Syd SilvermanAnyway, Happy Holidays and Merry Xmas to Muggs Everywhere !


New York, Dec. 21

I am currently copy editing on the Business Desk of the New York Post, where I went after News Corp.’s experimental iPad news publication The Daily folded in 2012. It’s a long-running, ink-stained, atmospheric place with a lot of similarities to the old Variety, which stood just a block away from the present NYP newsroom. I work with a lot of colorful, down-to-earth folks — some of whom are real characters! — and many of whom have been there for decades. Sometimes after work I’ll walk home down 46th Street and when I pass the fire hydrant that marks the spot where Variety once stood, think fondly of Joe Cohen and Bob Knight, of Meyer and Hobe and Tyrone and Johnny Madden, and Joanie and Peggy, and Norma, of course, and of all the rest of the great folks who gave the place so much of its spirit. I always feel lucky to have been part of it.


Madrid, Dec. 22

The old carcass and brain seem to be still holding up at age 81. It’s been a good year, with no private disasters, unexpected accidents, broken limbs or major memory losses, just the usual occasional befuddlement. My life in Madrid continues to be a pleasant routine that includes my daily constitutional in the local park, visits to my son, Mark, daughter-in-law, Pepa and my delightful eight-year-old granddaughter, Alex, as well as a good deal of writing and reading each day.

Trips this year (I get ants in my pants when staying at home too long) included sorties to Vienna, the Pyrenees, New York and London. For the upcoming Xmas holidays, we’ll be heading to San Sebastian (in the Basque region) followed by a two-week jaunt to Washington and Gotham.

Bookwise, I’ve been busy all year (and last year as well) whipping up a new tome that should be out mid-2015 in both English and Spanish versions, and which will be published in Madrid by Ediciones La Librería. Title: “Nazis in Madrid”. The book zeroes in on Nazi activities in this city during the Second World War, with plenty of illustrations to help along sales. Meanwhile, my son, Mark, is following his dad’s footsteps and also coming out with new books about the city with the same publisher.

Here’s wishing all the muggs a good Yuletide Season, and may we all still be around this time next year to send a contribution to the Simesite.