Home Media Unthinkable: Frank Rich Leaves the New York Times

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.”

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
1 reply to this post
  1. Frank Rich has been as boring and predictable as can be for the past 12 years ladling out smug aging liberal assessments of the rest of the world for dwindling readership on the UWS.

    I’d imagine that the editors just send around a topic sentence to all of the aging grey skins liberal op-ed stable and they just take turns writing the same stories. Whats Palin said This Week? Just how Evil are Neo-Cons? Big Think Piece on Obama and Realignment of Baby Boom/Gen X/Y/Z.

    If anyone seriously misses this they can read one of the other three columnists Carlos Slim employes to churn out the same thing. Or they can check a 2006 column which will read the same.

    And frankly, this side project sounds interesting for Rich, who has been intellectually stultified by having to speak ex cathedra from the Times.

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