NY Times columnist Frank Rich leaves for magazine

NEW YORK, March 1 Tue Mar 1, 2011 3:52pm EST

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NEW YORK, March 1 (Reuters) - Frank Rich, a prominent New York Times op-ed columnist and former chief theater critic, is leaving the newspaper to work for New York magazine, the Times said on its Web site on Tuesday.

Rich, who became well known during a 30-year career at the Times first for his acerbic theater reviews and later for unapologetically liberal-leaning op-ed columns, will write a monthly column for the Manhattan-based weekly, and also serve as editor-at-large for a new section built around the column.

"There is no greater newspaper than the Times," Rich said in a memo the Times sent to staff announcing his departure.

But Rich said a year's worth of reflection and consultation with friends and colleagues convinced him that New York would afford the opportunity "to write with more reflection, variety and space than is possible within the confines of a weekly newspaper column."

Rich, who joined the paper in 1980 and served as theater critic before becoming an op-ed columnist in 1994, noted that his new position would also "allow me to stretch the definition of a magazine column."

New York magazine said Rich would also serve as a commentator on its Web site, focusing on issues of interest in the weekly news.

Rich published a memoir "Ghost Light" in 2000, and a 2006 book, "The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina," which criticized U.S. media for lining up behind the Bush administration following the Sept. 11 attacks. He is married to Times feature writer Alex Witchel.

Rich's last column will appear on March 13, the Times said.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud, Editing by Dean Goodman)

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