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Frank Rich: from Eminem to President George Bush, He Has His Finger on American Culture

Prominent Columnist And Newly Appointed Associate Editor Of The New York Times, To Speak At UH Manoa

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Jan 9, 2003

Frank Rich, former theater critic, current Op-Ed columnist and senior writer for The New York Times Magazine has been appointed Associate Editor for The New York Times. He will be holding a lecture entitled "The 24/7 Media Culture" at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa‘s Campus Center Ballroom on Tuesday, January 21 at 7 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Rich will discuss how the American media has changed dramatically over the past decade beginning with the first Gulf War, which put CNN on the map in 1991, and continuing with the arrival of the national 24/7 news cycle five years later. He will show that this was exemplified by the later births of Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC, and the mass acceptance of the Internet, and that this explosion of constant news has changed the way news is gathered and presented.

In his new role at The New York Times, Rich will write a weekly cultural essay that will run as a column on the front page of the Sunday Arts & Leisure section beginning this spring. In addition, he will serve as advisor to the cultural news editor. Prior to this Rich was a columnist for the Op-Ed page of The New York Times commenting on American society and culture. He was awarded the title of senior writer for The New York Times Magazine in 1999. The dual title was a first for The Times, and Rich began to write essays and articles longer than those accommodated in the 700-word Op-Ed format. He also wrote articles and commentaries for The Magazine, based on his background as a theater critic and observer of art and entertainment. Rich joined The Times in 1980 as chief theater critic. Prior to that, Rich was a film and television critic at Time magazine where he was often referred to as the "Butcher of Broadway" for his criticism of the theater.

He has been the foremost culture critic of our time referencing and evaluating the most notable figures in society. Some of his most noteworthy commentary spotlighted Rudolph Giuliani, President George W. Bush, Broadway‘s Stephen Sondheim, Bruce Springsteen, Laura Schlesinger, Ellen DeGeneres and a recent New York Times Magazine cover article on the rap artist Eminem.

In addition to his many articles, Rich is widely known for his sympathetic chronicles of gay causes specifically the 1998 outbreak of violence against gays that culminated in the brutal Matthew Shepard murder. "The issues engage me. All sexual issues in America are a measure of where society stands." "It‘s fascinating to see how gay people are being treated by American culture and politicians," Rich stated when asked of his interests in gay issues.

Rich is also a keen observer of American politics. During the presidential campaign of 1992, he joined with New York Times Washington reporter Maureen Dowd to write a daily column about the political conventions. They revived their column during Inauguration Week in 1993.

In addition to his work at The Times, Rich has written about culture and politics for many other publications, including The New Republic, Esquire and the Washington Monthly. In his latest book, a childhood memoir titled "Ghost Light," Rich explores the roots of his fascination with the American theater. "This was something that entered my life that I just glommed onto—the theater was the most powerful of the worlds I was attracted to," Rich said. The book is being developed for an ABC television movie. Other publications include "The Theatre Art of Boris Aronson" with Lisa Aronson and "Hot Seat: Theater Criticism for The New York Times."

Rich earned a B.A. in American History and Literature from Harvard College in 1971. At Harvard, he was editorial chairman of The Harvard Crimson, an honorary Harvard College scholar, and the recipient of a Henry Russell Shaw Traveling Fellowship.