Thirty years ago, I crossed beneath the Manhattan Bridge, sidestepping rats, to review movies for the New York Post. That was my Rosalind Russell, His Girl Friday, breakthrough. Since then, I’ve published journalism and fiction, while advocating for empowering women’s voices.

Starting in 2011, I’ve authored the best-selling historical novel The Last Woman Standing. Then, I based my female-driven crime novel Bittersweet Brooklyn (originally titled Kosher Nostra) on my unconventional grandmother and her links to the Jewish-Italian crime syndicate Murder Inc. My first published book was the contemporary comedy Playdate, which O, The Oprah Magazine called “a witty debut novel.”

Best known as an outspoken critic and celebrity interviewer, I twice chaired the New York Film Critics Circle where I was a member for two decades. A Rotten Tomatoes Top Critic, I’ve been the movie reviewer since 2017. That follows sizeable stints as the in-house film critic for Us Weekly and the New York Post. In this capacity, I’ve travelled to festivals, and been on juries, from Marrakech to Berlin and Sundance to Woodstock. I’m on the Advisory Board of the Hamptons International Film Festival.

I’ve written essays, celebrity profiles and reviews for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Wrap, O: The Oprah Magazine, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Parade,

Marie Claire and The Huffington Post. When I joined the founding contributors of, I never anticipated how large the Awards Industry would grow. I’m still handicapping winners, and identifying snubs and surprises, as I did exclusively at Yahoo Movies for three years.

Two sidelines evolved from activities I loved. Writing celebrity profiles of stars like Mark Ruffalo, Diane Keaton and Dolly Parton, led to talking live onstage with Kristen Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Robert Redford and Renee Zellweger, among many others. My appreciation for subtitled foreign movies and television led to my role as content strategist for the world’s best in streaming television, MHz Choice.

In addition, I co-produced the Emmy-nominated Feud: Bette and Joan from its beginnings as a feature screenplay.

Of all the decisions I made in my professional and academic life, one of the most joyous was attending the University of California, Berkeley. While there, I reviewed movies for The Daily Californian and

edited The Berkeley Poetry Review, spending junior year abroad at St. Andrews University studying medieval history. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was valedictorian of the 1981 history class. After a detour earning an MBA in Arts Management from UCLA, I returned to writing, receiving my MFA in Fiction from Columbia University.

Twenty years ago, my husband and I left Brooklyn for a Gilded Age hunting lodge on 15 acres in upstate New York near Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill, where we live with our family, four cats and an assertive population of local wildlife.

Photo credit: Emily Assiran