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Q&A: Catching Up With Frank Rich

WWD chatted with the once-a-month New York Magazine writer and former Times columnist at a recent party held in his honor.

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RICH ON RICH: On Tuesday night, New York editor Adam Moss threw a slightly belated Welcome to New York Magazine party for once-a-month writer and former Times columnist Frank Rich. WWD caught up with Rich on the top floor at the New Museum, and here’s what he had to say:

WWD:
Early days, but what are the differences between The New York Times and New York Magazine?
Frank Rich: I’m writing about the same stuff and the same passions, but a bigger picture; longer, obviously; not being a monkey on a string and reacting to what happened on Thursday. And to me as a writer, it feels really liberating. I’ve only been doing it for — what? Three or four months? My fourth piece is this week.


The other thing I’m enjoying that’s different is in the op-ed page of the Times is you don’t have an editor, which has its advantages and disadvantages. But it’s really fun to be collaborating with Adam again, who I’ve worked with off and on, but mainly on, for 25 years, beginning when he was a young editor at Esquire.

WWD:
How are you enjoying the weekly chats with Adam online?
F.R.: It’s been fun. The most amusing part is to bring Adam out in public, because Adam has always been behind the scenes. I don’t want it to be just about me mouthing off. I want him mouthing off, too. He’s actually stepped up and done it. We’re still experimenting with it. It’s very freewheeling.

WWD: I remember reading a chat you guys had where you were talking about Ron Suskind’s new book [“Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President”]. But since you guys talked, the narrative has totally changed. Now everyone is piling on to Suskind’s book. Any thoughts on the criticism of it?
F.R.: I followed all the criticism of it, but it completely stands up based on my own reporting and, frankly, based on other reporting that’s out there. It very much overlaps with Jon Alter’s book about the first year of the Obama administration, which I actually reviewed for The New York Review of Books — including the women thing, which I’ve also picked up on in my reporting. I really think no one’s laid a hand on it. And so I’m fascinated by the piling on — the piling is about something that has nothing to do with the book. Maybe he’s not a member of the club.

WWD: Do you still want to write a lot about politics? You’re at New York now, you have flexibility, so can you say, “I’m going to write about one play.” Can you get small? Can you get local?
F.R.: I don’t know about local. From the beginning, Adam and I talked about me doing cultural pieces, and I will. But right now, we’re in such a political season. But yeah, part of the draw is —and this is true of my history with Adam at the Times — to combine culture and politics. So I’m looking forward to it. Am I going to cover local politics? No, that’s not one of my things. I’m not going to cover a mayor’s race.

WWD: How’s “Veep” going [a new HBO series starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus for which Rich is an executive producer]?
F.R.: Well, “Veep” starts shooting Oct. 3. I’m going down to Baltimore tomorrow for the final rehearsals. In show business, anything can happen. I’m not naïve about show business, but we’re shooting seven episodes. We don’t know for sure, but it’ll probably be on the air in March.

WWD:
Last question, on Sunday Review. Your feelings on it so far, a section you never had anything to do with, but it’s your old colleagues over at the Times. What do you think?
F.R.: It’s a work in progress. It’s a new publication. It’s like a start-up. You can’t judge it. It’s too early. It’s been up in less time than I’ve been at New York magazine, so we’ll see what happens.