Roger L. Simon

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This article is about the writer and political commentator; not to be confused with the columnist and journalist Roger Simon.
Roger Simon
Roger L Simon.JPG
Born (1943-11-22) November 22, 1943 (age 70)
New York City, New York
Nationality American
Alma mater Yale School of Drama
Occupation Novelist, screenwriter, Chief Executive Officer of Pajamas Media
Website
Roger Simon's blog

Roger Lichtenberg Simon (born November 22, 1943) is an American novelist and screenwriter. He was formerly CEO of PJ Media (formerly known as Pajamas Media). He is the author of ten novels, including the Moses Wine detective series, and six screenplays. He has served as president of the West Coast branch of PEN, a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, and was on the faculty of the American Film Institute and the Sundance Institute.[1]

PJ Media[edit]

Main article: PJ Media

Simon served as CEO of PJ Media until 2013. PJ Media is a media company and operator of an eponymous conservative opinion and commentary website. Founded in 2004 by a network primarily, but not exclusively, made up of conservatives and libertarians led by Simon, it was originally intended as a forum "with the intention of... aggregating blogs to increase corporate advertising and creating our own professional news service" but now includes an online television service, PJTV, as well.[2] PJ Media's name, formerly Pajamas Media, is derived from a dismissive comment made by former news executive vice-president Jonathan Klein of CBS during the Killian documents affair involving then-CBS anchorman Dan Rather in the fall of 2004: "You couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances at 60 Minutes and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas".[3]

Books[edit]

Moses Wine[edit]

The Big Fix[edit]

Main article: The Big Fix

Roger L. Simon began to develop the idea for Moses Wine when Alan Rinzler, who was working as an editor at Straight Arrow Books, a venture by Rolling Stone, suggested that a book Simon had written about a veteran of the Bay of Pigs Invasion who goes crazy and kidnaps the son of a radical lawyer, had poor commercial prospects. Rinzler suggested that Simon do something "more Rolling Stone."[4]

In response, Simon, who had recently been exploring the works of Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald came up with the idea of updating the private-eye genre with a "hip, "political," and edgy "longhair." Six weeks later, Simon had finished the first Moses Wine novel, "The Big Fix." At the time, Simon was living in Echo Park, California, where many of the stories in the Moses Wine series take place. Moses Wine was different from other fictional detectives that Simon saw as devoid of ethnicity, family, friends, or interests outside of work. In Moses Wine, Simon created a character that was proudly Jewish, divorced, and given to smoking marijuana. The cases taken on by Moses Wine were also unconventional. "The Big Fix" focused on the case of an Abbie Hoffman-like radical prankster who attempts to derail the presidential candidacy of a liberal democrat. "The Big Fix" won several awards and became a best-seller. It was later turned into a popular movie starring Richard Dreyfuss in 1978 for which Simon wrote the screenplay.[4]

Raising the Dead[edit]

Main article: Raising the Dead

In "Raising the Dead," Wine is retained by an Arab organization to prove that it had nothing to do with a terrorist attack. Most of the story takes place in Israel and Los Angeles, where a young member of a militant Jewish group has gone underground.[5]

Responding to speculation that he had uncovered information related to the killing of Alex Odeh, a regional director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination League who had spoken out regarding the takeover of an Italian cruise-ship by Palestinians, Simon said that while he had visited Israel twice and talked to Jews and Arabs in the West Bank, he had not made any inquiries about the case. Simon said, "This is not fact, this is fiction. If I had accidentally uncovered any information, I would have gone right to the FBI. It's a capital case."[6]

California Roll[edit]

Main article: California Roll

At the start of California Roll Wine is feeling his age and recovering from a mid-life crisis when he is invited to Silicon Valley by Alex Wiznitsky, a young genius known as the Wiz, who wants him to become head of security for Tulip, a computer company that rose from backstreet obscurity into the Fortune 500 in only three years. Soon after, one of the Wiz's collaborators, another genius known as the Last Nerd, has disappeared. Wine eventually follows the case to Japan where roughly half the story takes place.[7]

The Straight Man[edit]

Main article: The Straight Man

In "The Straight Man" Wine has quit his posh job in corporate security and is back in West Los Angeles where he is half-heartedly doing private detective work from his apartment while trying to cure his mental angst with regular visits to a psychiatrist. This psychiatrist, himself disabled and using a wheelchair, asks Wine to investigate a possible murder. The dead man, Mike Ptak, was the husband of a patient being treated by the psychiatrist.

Moses Wine as autobiography[edit]

Simon says that the books are partially autobiographical. He said, "the series reflects where I was and where I am. It's my diary. I have to have some new thing happening in my life that engages me. I wrap a mystery around that. That's why there aren't more books. I've always been told that I should be doing one every year-and-a-half. I can't. I can't treat it like a television series, every week a new mystery."[4]

Screenplays[edit]

Among his other screenwriting credits are Bustin' Loose, with Richard Pryor, My Man Adam which Simon also directed, and Scenes from a Mall, with Woody Allen and Bette Midler. Simon also received story credit on A Better Life, a movie about an undocumented immigrant working as a gardener in Los Angeles while struggling to keep his son away from gangs. The film was directed by Chris Weitz;[8] lead actor Damian Bichir was nominated for a 2012 "Best Actor" Academy Award.

Awards[edit]

Simon was nominated for an Academy Award for co-writing the screenplay of the 1989 film Enemies, a Love Story.

The Moses Wine novels have been nominated for the Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America.[9] The Big Fix received the John Creasey Award for best first crime novel from the Crime Writers of Great Britain.[10]

Political ideas[edit]

Simon remained conventionally liberal until the 1990s when he began asking questions in response to events such as the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Simon, a former civil rights activist in the 1960s[citation needed], said he was shocked by "the kind of essential dishonesty to justice" of Simpson's acquittal. Simon said, "I found the use of racial politics in the O.J. trial so repellent to me, morally, but also, I couldn't believe it was happening right there in front of my eyes. It started to shake up some things. And then came 9/11."[11]

Simon experienced a political transformation in which he felt alienated from what he saw as the excesses of the Left after the realities of the September 11 attacks affected him. He jokes, "I may be the first American writer who was profiled both by Mother Jones and National Review." He supports same-sex marriage and the War on Terror, and contends that those issues are linked.[12] He also edits a weblog. In 2005 he founded, with jazz guitarist Charles Johnson, webmaster of the Little Green Footballs weblog, a startup company called Pajamas Media. Pajamas Media expanded in 2008 into Internet television with Pajamas TV, now known as PJTV. Simon, with screenwriter Lionel Chetwynd, hosts PJTV's "Poliwood" show, covering the intersection of politics and Hollywood.

Simon's first non-fiction book, Blacklisting Myself: Memoir of a Hollywood Apostate in the Age of Terror,[13] was published by Encounter Books in February 2009. It was republished in 2011 with the title Turning Right at Hollywood and Vine: The Perils of Coming Out Conservative in Tinseltown

Education and personal life[edit]

Born in New York City, New York, on November 22, 1943, Simon is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Yale School of Drama. He has been married three times. He is currently married to Sheryl Longin, who wrote the screenplay for Dick, a film spoof of Watergate. In 1997, Simon directed the feature film Prague Duet[14] from a script he and Longin wrote.

Partial bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ About-us, Pajamas Media, accessed January 7, 2009.
  2. ^ Simon, Roger L (April 28, 2005), An open letter to all bloggers, archived from the original on 2005-04-29 .
  3. ^ "How the Blogosphere Took on CBS' Docs", News, Fox .
  4. ^ a b c Dick Lochte, "The second coming of Moses Wine; Roger L Simon’s semiautobiographical novels about the edgy, radical sleuth are being reissued." Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2000
  5. ^ Champlin, Charles (4 September 1998). "Bloody Sunday: Raising the dead, by Roger L Simon (Villar: $15.95; 227 pp.)". Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ Valerie Takahama (20 October 1988). "Jewish mystery writer uncovers his religion, not Alex Odeh killing". THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. 
  7. ^ Gross, John (17 May 1985). "Books of the Times". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ Roger L. Simon (4 May 2011). "A Better Life: Hangin’ with the Homeboys". Pajamas Media. Retrieved 4 May 2011. 
  9. ^ ThrillingDetective.com
  10. ^ Comcast.net
  11. ^ Robert Stacy McCain (24 January 2008). "ohn Wayne of blogosphere; For Simon, the frontier is online". The Washington Times. 
  12. ^ PajamasMedia.com
  13. ^ Amazon.com
  14. ^ IMDb.com

External links[edit]