Scott Simon

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

Simon's weekly show, Weekend Edition Saturday, has been called by the Washington Post, "the most literate, witty, moving, and just plain interesting news show on any dial," and by Brett Martin of Time-Out New York "the most eclectic, intelligent two hours of broadcasting on the airwaves." He has won every major award in broadcasting, including the Peabody, the Emmy, the Columbia-DuPont, the Ohio State Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Sidney Hillman Award. Simon received the Presidential End Hunger Award for his coverage of the Ethiopian civil war and famine, and a special citation from the Peabody Awards for his weekly essays, which were cited as "consistently thoughtful, graceful, and challenging." He has also received the Barry M. Goldwater Award from the Human Rights Fund. Recently, he was awarded the Studs Terkel Award.

Simon has hosted many television specials, including the PBS's "State of Mind," "Voices of Vision," and "Need to Know." "The Paterson Project" won a national Emmy, as did his two-hour special from the Rio earth summit meeting. He co-anchored PBS's "Millennium 2000" coverage in concert with the BBC, and has co-hosted the televised Columbia-DuPont Awards. He also became familiar to viewers in Great Britain as host of the continuing BBC series, "Eyewitness," and a special on the White House press corps. He has appeared as a guest and commentator on all major networks, including BBC, NBC, CNN, and ESPN.

Simon has contributed articles to The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Sunday Times of London, The Guardian, and Gourmet among other publications, and won a James Beard Award for his story, "Conflict Cuisine" in Gourmet. He has received numerous honorary degrees.

Sports Illustrated called his book Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan "extraordinary...uniformly superb...a memoir of such breadth and reach that it compares favorably with Fredrick Exley's A Fan's Notes." It was at the top of several non-fiction bestseller lists. His book, and Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, was Barnes and Nobles' Sports Book of the Year. His novel, Pretty Birds, the story of two teenage girls in Sarajevo during the siege, received rave reviews, Scott Turow calling it, "the most auspicious fiction debut by a journalist of note since Tom Wolfe's. . . always gripping, always tender, and often painfully funny. It is a marvel of technical finesse, close observation, and a perfectly pitched heart." Windy City, Simon's second novel, is a political comedy set in the Chicago City Council. Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other, an essay about the joys of adoption, was published in August 2010.

Simon's tweets to his 1.25 million Twitter followers from his mother's bedside in the summer of 2013 gathered major media attention around the world. He is completing a book on their last week together that will appear in time for Mother's Day 2015.

Simon is a native of Chicago and the son of comedian Ernie Simon and Patricia Lyons Simon. His hobbies are books, theater, ballet, British comedy, Mexican cooking and "bleeding for the Chicago Cubs." He appeared as Mother Ginger in the Ballet Austin production of The Nutcracker.

If you're a fan of The Americans, you probably have strong feelings about Alison Wright's character, Martha. Poor, loving, trusting Martha had to be smuggled out of the U.S. because she married a man who was no good for her — a man who turned out to be a Russian spy.

It's hardly unusual for athletes, both amateur and professional, to have pregame rituals. But the NBA's peculiar commitment to one grade-school snack goes deep: ESPN Magazine calls the PB&J sandwich the league's "secret addiction."

"In every NBA locker room, you'll see a variety of different foods on the table, but PB&J — if there's a locker room that doesn't have it, I haven't seen it," ESPN reporter Baxter Holmes tells Scott Simon.

There is a photograph that's been seen around the world this week. It seems to hold both civilization and destruction in the same frame.

The photo shows a white-haired man sitting on a bed in the midst of rubble. He sits in front of broad windows, which have been shattered; and gauzy white curtains, which flap like wounded white birds.

Amy Dickinson says her hometown of Freeville, N.Y, is mostly a town of leavers and stayers — and she managed to be both. Dickinson went away to college and lived in Chicago, New York, London and Washington, D.C. Eventually, as her mother was nearing the end of her life, Dickinson returned home.

And the winner is, La La Land!

Oh, sorry. Someone handed me the wrong script.

Gary Alan Coe — Gary from Chicago, as he introduced himself — enjoyed four minutes and 40 seconds of fame this week when he was first in a line of Hollywood tourists ushered into the Dolby Theater during the Oscars ceremonies.

Most of the tourists seemed flabbergasted to be paraded, in their shorts and fanny-packs, in front of cinema stars in silk and glitter.

Michael Rodriguez is both a military man and a muse. Years after President George W. Bush sent him into war, the two men now call each other friends.

Rodriguez was a U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret who served from 1992 to 2013. He's featured in President Bush's book of portraits of more than 60 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who served in wars under his watch. It's called Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors.

The Academy Awards are Sunday night. But that's just what we call a peg for what I really want to talk about.

This spring marks the 45th anniversary of The Godfather.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

Francis Coppola's film is smartly scripted, beautifully acted and gorgeously directed. It's one of those special films you can see every few years and notice something new each time. It's an opera, really, where the arias are story lines about love, blood and America.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The great British actor John Hurt has died. He got his start early, said he appeared in front of an audience for the first time when he was just 9 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

I am surrounded by Mary Tyler Moores: smart, strong, independent women who have enriched the news business, and, for that matter, our world.

When Mary Tyler Moore died this week, at the age of 80, a lot of women in the news business — and women who are lawyers, teachers, accountants, and software engineers — cited Mary Richards, the role she played on The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1970 to 1977, as an inspiration.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Every week we get emails and tweets from people who say they are so appalled by this year's election campaign they no can longer pay attention to the news. Then they often go on to give us full details about the latest incident in the campaign that's so repulsed them.

A lot of Americans say they are disgusted by this year's election. And the data says they can't get enough of it.

Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature this week. His selection was surprising. He is the first artist to receive the award for a body of work that is almost entirely songs. But while there were critics, there was also a lot of acclaim, even from outstanding longtime novelists, including Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, and Salman Rushdie, who called Mr. Dylan, "the brilliant inheritor of the Bardic tradition."

It somehow just seems right the last A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor will be heard tonight, on this weekend of flags, parades, and lemonade stands. The show was recorded last night at the Hollywood Bowl.

The first Prairie Home Companion was in 1974, and all of us who share this sliver on the radio spectrum know we wouldn't be in business if Garrison Keillor hadn't made a new thing called public radio truly sing.

A cooking show has reportedly dominated the recent television ratings in North Korea.

Of course there's just one broadcaster. And it's the government.

Some songwriters are able to write songs about those turns in life too painful to talk about.

When I met Merle Haggard aboard his tour bus in the early summer of 2001, he no longer looked much like the hard-scrabble outlaw of his 20s, but a man who had been tempered by the ups and downs of riches and bankruptcy, love, loss and time. He had come a long distance since his boyhood in a converted boxcar on the wrong side of the tracks, growing up just outside of Bakersfield, Calif., and the troubled times when he served more than two years in San Quentin for robbery.

Another cover-up is in the news.

Italy's Premier Matteo Renzi and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani held a press conference inside Rome's Capitoline Museum this week to announce $18 billion in new business between their countries, now that sanctions against Iran are ending.

There's a house for sale in Los Angeles: 29 rooms, tennis court, swimming pool, and wine cellar, a guest house, game house, movie theater, and a grotto, which is not to be confused with any grotto you've read about in the Bible.

The owner wants $200 million dollars. Local realtors say that's optimistic; which is often their way of saying, that's ridiculous.

But the house is Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion.

At the age of 89, Hef may be downsizing. Insert the double-entendre of your choice here.

Famous names can be hard to live up to. Those who carry them are born with expectations, as well as advantages, and the sons and daughters of famous people have to make their mistakes and learn their lessons under a lot of watchful eyes.

When we spoke with Natalie Cole in June of 2013 (you can listen to the entire interview below), she had just recorded an album of Spanish language music, as her father had, in the 1950s.

Frank Sinatra was born a hundred years ago today. Even if you think his music just isn't your music, it's hard to get through life without uttering what I'll call a "Frank Phrase" from one of his songs at telling times in our lives.

"So set 'em up, Joe ... Fly me to the moon ... I've got you under my skin ... My kind of town ... I did it my way ... I want to wake up in a city that doesn't sleep ..." And that wry elegy for lost loves and lonely nights: "So make it one for my baby, and one more for the road."

Barbie is about to talk back. She has talked before, with a pull-string in her back, so she could utter a phrase or two, like, "Let's have a pizza party!"

But Mattel is about to roll out Hello Barbie, who has a mic in her waist that connects to a server in a cloud. A company called Toy Talk will analyze whatever a child tells Barbie and play one of about 8,000 replies that will be recorded and updated to stay current.

Program Hello Barbie to say, "Donald Trump," "Chicago Cubs," and, "According to polls ..." and she could do my job.

Ionel Talpazan thought he saw a UFO when he was a boy, and never stopped seeing them. Of course, he created them.

Ionel Talpazan was 60 years old when he died this week, of diabetes and stroke. He was a boy in a small village in Romania, given up by his parents and raised by a succession of foster parents. He told interviewers he escaped into the woods one night because he thought he would be beaten.

He saw a blue, beating light in the sky above, and was sure it was a spacecraft.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

I'm not sure a picture is worth a thousand words. But why do some pictures sell for millions and others that seem identical go for just a few dollars?

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A lot of people saw their hopes and dreams fulfilled this week — for just a few hours.

Carnegie Mellon University emailed about 800 people who had applied to graduate school to say, 'Congratulations, you're in.' They were — to quote the message of acceptance — "one of the select few" to be accepted into Carnegie Mellon's prestigious Master of Science in Computer Science program.

A young woman in India who was accepted wrote on Facebook that she quit her job, bolstered by this act of faith in her future. Her boyfriend proposed marriage.

Pope Francis and the Vatican have recognized Oscar Romero as a martyr. This may move the name of the late archbishop of San Salvador a little further in the process that could one day make him a saint.

But being deemed a martyr is also holy. It means the church believes his life can inspire people; Pope Francis has said Romero inspires him.

Romero was considered a kindly, orthodox conservative parish priest when Pope Paul appointed him archbishop in 1977. He did not question El Salvador's ruling regime.

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Martin Luther King Jr. is British. Coretta Scott King, too. So is Lyndon Baines Johnson, Superman, Batman, the last Abraham Lincoln, the ramrod U.S. Marine, and the chisel-chested CIA operative in Homeland, and many of the B'almer cops and hoods on The Wire. So are Philip on The Americans, Eli on The Good Wife, and both of those stealthily adulterous Americans on The Affair.

Every Saturday just before our show begins I get on the public address system here to announce to our crew, "It's a beautiful day for a radio show. Let's do two today!"

It's an admiring imitation of Ernie Banks, the Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame baseball player who died last night at the age of 83. Ernie used to say, especially in the long years of hot summers — including this last one, when the Cubs were stuck in last place — "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame. Let's play two today!"

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