Arts, Popular Culture & Television Media.
Jeffrey Lyons has reviewed more than 15,000 movies, 900 Broadway and off-Broadway plays, interviewed nearly 500 actors, written or co-authored six books, co-hosted three national movie review shows on PBS, MSNBC and the NBC stations, and received two honorary degrees so far. He’s lectured at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., four times at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, in venues all over the country, and has enjoyed a career on television, radio and print spanning 42 years.
After graduating from Syracuse Law School with a Dr. of Jurisprudence degree in 1969, he conducted his first professional interview for NBC radio’s iconic “Monitor” program with Debbie Reynolds. Since then, he’s interviewed nearly every movie star of the past four decades.
He began his journalism career working summers for the Newhouse Newspapers, then the New York Times, then Westinghouse Radio, where he covered both national political conventions on the convention floor in the turbulent summer of 1968. Two years later, he joined New York’s WPIX-TV, where he would review movies, theater and conduct interviews for 21 years. He began to be seen nationally on “The Independent Network News” via Tribune Broadcasting in 1980. In 1982, he was chosen over 300 aspirants to co-host “SNEAK PREVIEWS,” the famous PBS movie review program, and during his 12 seasons on that show (1982-92, 1994-96,) they often out-rated the more publicized competing shows.
On radio, he reviews movies, Broadway shows, and conducted interviews with major stars for WCBS and CBS stations from 1974-92 and recently rejoined the station reviewing movies. He's also heard on WNYM radio in New York. He was also the critic for the Mutual Broadcasting System and CBC Radio Canada. "LYONS DEN RADIO" is his current nationally-syndicated outlet, and he has returned to WCBS Radio as well.
In 1995, he wrote the A&E biography of James Earl Jones, conducting a five-hour-interview with the revered Tony Award and honorary Academy Award-winning actor.
Then in 1996 he joined WNBC as their film and theater critic, and began bringing movie stars to his studio; something he’d done regularly at WPIX, but which few, if any, competitors in the #1 TV market did with such regularity. Thus he interviewed everyone from Clint Eastwood to Dame Judi Dench, George Clooney, Peter O'Toole, Sir Alec Guiness, Penelope Crúz (in her first English interview and subsequently interviewed her in Spanish for Telemundo), Javier Bardem and Antonio Banderas (also in Spanish); Sir Michael Caine, Matt Damon, Sir Ben Kingsley, Dame Helen Mirren, Dame Julie Andrews, Morgan Freeman, Salma Hayek, Seth Rogen, Robin Williams, Sir Anthony Hopkins, to name just a few. He was the NBC critic for 13 years.
In 2004, he reviewed movies with his son Ben Lyons on “MSNBC’s ‘At The Movies.’” Then in 2005, he created and co-hosted “REEL TALK,” a ratings winner on all 154 NBC stations, for five years, co-hosted with Alison Bailes. It featured a major movie star every week in on-the-set interviews.
He’s written six books to date. The latest is “Stories My Father Told Me, Notes From the Lyons Den,” a collection of anecdotes from his father Leonard Lyons’ iconic Broadway columns spanning 1934-74, culling stories from 12,400 columns, along with his own interviews. Jeffrey’s family friends growing up included Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, two-time Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, Joe DiMaggio, Ingrid Bergman, Her Serene Highness Grace Kelly, Richard Burton, Sofia Loren, Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall, John Steinbeck, President Harry S. Truman, and dozens more, all chronicled in this book, which has received rave reviews from, among others, the Wall Street Journal and in articles in the New York Times, New York Post and the respected industry publication Kirkus Books. Famed CBS journalist Charles Osgood wrote the introduction, and Kirk Douglas provided a quoted endorsement, along with tribute quotes to his father by Carl Sandburg, America’s greatest historian and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who issued a proclamation on the 100th anniversary of Leonard Lyons' birth.
As a teenager, Jeffrey trained as a field goal kicker with the New York Football Giants, studied bullfighting in Spain (arranged by Ernest Hemingway), spent seven summers touring with Spain’s greatest matador, Antonio Ordoñez, and sang in the Boys’ Chorus of the Metropolitan Opera for three seasons. Later, he studied acting with the famed "Method" teacher Lee Strassberg (founder of the revered Actors’ Studio and teacher of, among others, Marilyn Monroe, Lee J. Cobb and Paul Newman), and portrayed himself (“unconvincingly!’) in the movies “The French Connection” and “Deathtrap”, and on TV’s “Wiseguy.”
He is the father of the TV personality, correspondent and film critic Ben Lyons, formerly of the E! Channel and now with the syndicated TV series “Extra!” who along with his own duties, appears with Jeffrey touting upcoming movies.
Jeffrey has lectured all over the country on movies, his baseball books, and television techniques. He also lectured on American film and film criticism in Spanish in Venezuela, Argentina, Uruaguay, and Chile and lectured on bullfighting in Madrid. He lectured on baseball three times at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. and at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
To date, he's received two honorary degrees from Hofstra University and St. Mary's College, both in N.Y. state.
Jeffrey’s other books are include "101 Great Movies for Kids," "Out of Left Field," "Curveballs and Screwballs," "Short Hops and Foul Tips," and "Catching Heat." His baseball books had introductions by Bob Costas and Oscar winners Robert Redford and Billy Bob Thornton and quotes from Billy Crystal, Hall of Famers Dave Winfield, Bob Feller and Willie McCovey, and actress Rosie O’Donnell.
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