Simulated news stories are latest craze in TV news is getting more exciting than ever. The reason is that there has been a breakthrough. It is now possible to simulate a news story that is as good or even better than the real thing. The person who invented the SNS (simulated news story) is Arch McGarry, an independent special effects TV producer who is now one of the most sought-after men in television journalism. "Where did you get the idea to simulate the news?" I asked. "I was watching an oil spill off California on the evening news. The film was so grainy that you had no idea what was going on. The thought occurred to me that I could simulate a better oil spill than that. So I went to my bathtub and with the help of my kids re-enacted the spill and all the damage that followed. When I showed it to the producer at the evening news show, he was flabbergasted. Now whenever there is ART BUCHWALD an oil spill in the world they use my film instead of the real thing." "That's great What other news stories have you simulated?" "We do a lot of murders. In the past, TV news reporters were restricted in showing a crime of passion because their cameras usually got there too late to tape it live. They came to me with the problem, and with models I can simulate any crime 20 minutes before air time." v 1 "Do some people think they're seeing the real thing?" "Most people believe they are. The advantage of simulation is that you can see a crime from start to finish so you can get emotionally involved." "Do you simulate political stories in Washington?" "Yes, we da The other day one of the networks heard that President Bush had playfully dunked Vice President Quayle's head underwater a half-dozen times in the Jacuzzi at Camp David. They had no film of it so they asked us if we would re-enact the dunking. We found two look-alikes and did the whole story. No one even knew it wasn't real." "How about sports? Do you simulate football or basketball events?" "Not yet, but we're working on it When it comes to faking it we want to stick with hard news, such as train wrecks or Poland." "You've simulated Poland?" TV journalism "We've simulated what has been going on in Poland. We have a fellow who looks more like Walesa than Walesa, and we have the best Jaruzelski in the re-enactment business. When we stage a fight between them, it's 10 times better than what happened in Warsaw." "Do you ever talk about Bloch, the alleged spy?" "I'm very proud to have been the first one to simulate the Bloch spy caper. To do it right I built the entire city of Vienna in our studios in Brooklyn. Not one news organization has ever done so much simulation on a story." I couldn't dispute him. When I saw it I felt I was sitting in the FBI's suite at the Sacher Hotel. "Did you base the swapping of the briefcases on the real thing?" "Everything we simulate has to have authenticity or the networks couldn't call it news." Art Buchwald appears Wednesdays.