Phase Two

As promised in this space a couple of weeks ago, we’re back with the introduction of another new section, which we’re calling “The Culture Pages.” It combines a traditional strength of the magazine’s—incisive criticism of movies, theater, television, books, art, and music—with a constellation of new features that explore the city as an unparalleled producer of great culture. Where does an idea for a play come from, and how does it get from there to the stage? What does a musician do to imagine a new melody? What are the influences since childhood that made an artist the creative powerhouse that he or she would become? These are some of the questions we’ll be getting at every week, in ways that we hope will be both artful and entertaining.

We are especially proud, in this first iteration of “The Culture Pages,” to have our new film critic, Ken Tucker, performing double duty. On page 63, he analyzes Jon Stewart’s attempt to be both a political satirist and, when it suits him, a political scold. Right after that, there’s Ken’s first film review, of the Ray Charles biopic Ray.There are plenty of other new bylines in “The Culture Pages,” too, such as Keith Gessen, who reviews Stephen Elliott’s campaign memoir, Looking Forward to It, and who will be one of our regular book critics. In this new format, we are reviewing more works, and so we’re also featuring quite a few more critics whom you’ll get to know over time. They will be joining some of the critics who’ve built a loyal following among our readers, such as John Simon, Mark Stevens, John Leonard, and Peter G. Davis.

You may notice that some of the features that have been included in “The Culture Pages” serve a bit of the function of the features that used to pepper “The Week,” our listings section; now “The Week” is stripped of that material, which is why it is briefer. But the listings themselves are just as comprehensive as always. And on our Website (, you’ll see even deeper listings, including constantly updated movie times and easy-to-use links to buy tickets.

We have been very pleased with the response to the “Strategist.” But the compliments haven’t gone to our head. We’ve heard the complaints, too. We realize the type size has been a bit small. We know that the section might go on longer than many readers have an appetite for. But even as we rush to fix some of the problems, we are aware that in this issue, we’re creating some of them again. Do not fear: “The Culture Pages” will not be this overwhelming every week. After we’ve shown you a smattering of our new tricks, we’ll pare the section back, without flinching from our determination to be the authority on cultural life in New York and beyond.

We’re demanding a lot of your time, we know that. But we hope we are building a stronger magazine, more substantive and more fun at the same time. We trust you will let us know if we’re succeeding. Meanwhile, we are now preparing the third phase of this renovation for the issue that hits the stands on November 15. That’s when we’ll introduce some columnists, the “Intelligencer” section will be revamped, and our new look will be complete. Thanks for your patience as we remove the scaffolding, step by step.

Phase Two