Five-time New York Emmy Award winner Jeffrey Lyons has reviewed more than 15,000 movies, 900 Broadway and off-Broadway plays, interviewed nearly 500 actors, written or co-authored seven books, (#8 is in the works); co-hosted three national movie review shows on PBS, MSNBC and the NBC stations, and received two honorary degrees so far. He’s lectured on journalism and television techniques at colleges and civic groups across the country, and on baseball at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., four times at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center at Montclair State College. He’s enjoyed a career in television and radio spanning 49 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 five decades; several hundred on radio, TV and in print. He did the research and interviews for the James Earl Jones Biography on A&E, including a five-hour interview with the great star.
Jeffrey began his journalism career working summers in 1960 as a teenager for the Newhouse Newspapers, in Jersey City, N.J. then on the Metropolitan desk at the New York Times, then Westinghouse Radio, (WINS in New York) where he covered both national political conventions 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 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.
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 competitors in the #1 TV market did with regularity. By this time, stars and their publicists knew he was the best-prepared interviewer. Thus on his own set at WNBC, he interviewed everyone from Clint Eastwood to Dame Judi Dench, James Earl Jones, Penelope Cruz (in English and Spanish for Telemundo), Javier Bardem and Antonio Banderas (also in Spanish); Sir Michael Caine, Sir Ben Kingsley, Seth Rogen, Kevin Costner, Kirk Douglas, Peter O'Toole, Angelina Jolie, Dame Helen Mirren, Mel Brooks, Robin Williams Sir Anthony Hopkins, to name just a few.
In 2003 he reviewed movies with his son Ben Lyons (then with the E! Channel and later with "EXTRA" and now with ESPN-LA radio ) on “MSNBC’s “At The Movies’”, then in 2004, he created and co-hosted “REEL TALK,” a ratings winner on all 154 NBC stations, for five seasons; the only show ever syndicated by WNBC. In 2013-4 he appeared on 10 episodes of MSG-TV's "The Lineup" with, among others, Oscar winner Spike Lee and actors Ed Burns and Chazz Palminteri reviewing movies about sports and New York, winning five Emmys.
He’s written seven books to date. His eighth book, “HEMINGWAY AND ME; STORIES, LETTERS, AND ANECDOTES FROM A LIFE-CHANGING FAMILY FRIENDSHIP” is due out in the Fall 2020 with an introduction by Liam Neeson.
His most recent is "What A Time It Was! Leonard Lyons and the Golden Age of New York Nightlife" a sequel to “Stories My Father Told Me, Notes From the Lyons Den.” Both are collections of anecdotes from his father Leonard Lyons’ iconic Broadway column, along with his own interviews. Jeffrey’s family friends growing up included Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, two-time Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, Joe DiMaggio, Richard Burton, Sofia Loren, Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall, 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.
Jeffrey trained as a field goal kicker with the New York Football Giants, studied bullfighting in Spain touring seven summers with Spain’s foremost matador Antonio Ordoñez (arranged by Ernest Hemingway), sang in the Boys’ Chorus of the Metropolitan Opera for three seasons, studied acting with the great teacher Lee Strassberg (founder of the revered Actors’ Studio), and portrayed himself (“unconvincingly!’) in the movies “The French Connection” and “Deathtrap”, and on TV’s “Wiseguy.”
He continues his career reviewing movies on WCBS radio in New York and through national syndication on “Lyons Den” radio, and occasionally on TV. He also syndicates five baseball trivia questions every weekday sports-themed radio stations.
Jeffrey has hosted film festivals in San Diego five years, Vero Beach (currently), and Southern City Film Festivals and has hosted the Bahamas International Film Festival for seven years and the Breckenridge, Colorado Film Festival for 21 years.
He received honorary degrees and was the commencement speaker at Hofstra University and Mt. St. Mary's University.
In June 2017, he was a keynote speaker at the 16th annual Hemingway Colloquium in Havana, recalling his childhood visit with his family to the home of Ernest and Mary Hemingway. It is the subject of his forthcoming eighth book, "HEMMINGWAY AND ME; STORIES AND LETTERS FROM AN AMAZING LIFE-CHANGING FRIENDSHIP." He's broadcast Boston Red Sox games on the Red Sox radio network in English and Spanish.