The unthinkable has happened: after 33 years, Frank Rich is leaving the New York Times. And it’s for New York Magazine, where Adam Moss has successfully led him. Rich was theater critic at the Times for 14 tumultuous years, often called “the Butcher of Broadway” for killing shows on opening night. But he’s also been a calming presence at the Times as an op ed writer and cultural force. (I’m assuming his wife, Alex Witchel, also a Times “lifer,” remains.) Rich’s prepared statement runs below. But this has to be a blow to them. Frank is a tie to the important recent past of the paper. In recent years, though, he’s been trying to do outside projects–including a pilot at HBO. The Times frowns on outside projects. At New York he’ll be able to do whatever he wants. In a time when newspapers and magazines are on the wane, New York has become more and more readable and interesting, too, so this is probably a great move for him.
Here’s the statement:
“There is no greater newspaper than the Times. I leave the paper with deep affection for both the institution and my many brilliant colleagues, and with much gratitude for the opportunity the paper gave me to serve in two dream jobs in journalism. After seventeen years in my second career there, as a columnist, I feel much as I did after nearly fourteen years in my first, as chief drama critic—both the satisfaction that I’ve given a great job all I had and a serious hunger to move on to fresh and expanded writing challenges after having done the same assignment for so long. I’ve spent much of the past year talking to friends inside and outside the Times about what might be most exciting for me next. It was impossible to top the idea of reuniting with my friend Adam Moss, who has played a crucial role in my writing life since the late 1980s and who, as editor of the Times Magazine, was instrumental in my transition from arts criticism to broader essay writing. The role Adam has created for me at his revitalized New York Magazine will allow me to write with more reflection, variety, and space than is possible within the confines of a weekly newspaper column—and, for that matter, will allow me to stretch the definition of a magazine column.”