David Denby Fades to New Yorker Black [Corrected]

David Denby’s first article for The New Yorker, published in 1993, was titled “Does Homer Have Legs?” It was all about the journalist returning to his Alma Mater Columbia University for a pair of literature courses. Denby would go on to fashion a book out of those experiences.


Denby joined The New Yorker full-time in 1998 as a staff writer and film critic; now, per the tweet above from colleague John Lahr, that phase of his service has come to a close.* When Denby spoke with us in 2012 about another one of his books, Do the Movies Have a Future?, he reminded about a key bit of life scripting from the most famous New Yorker film critic of them all:

“I was a graduate student in California going nowhere fast. And if Pauline Kael hadn’t taken an interest in me – and she took an interest in many, many people, particularly young people – I probably would have become a professor of film, which is of course not bad. But this has been a lot more fun.”

*Correction [2:45 p.m.]:
Via email as well as Mediabistro sister publication The Hollywood Reporter, a critical layer of additional detail has been provided by New Yorker director of communications Natalie Raabe:

“Denby is going to give up his fortnightly reviewing in early 2015 but will continue as a staff writer, contributing longer critic-at-large pieces to the magazine. Anthony Lane will become the magazine’s sole film critic and Richard Brody will continue at “The Front Row” on newyorker.com. Between their work and David’s contributions, there will be no shortage of film coverage.”

Raabe notes that Denby’s transition creates, on the film side, a structure somewhat similar to the publication’s theater coverage ranks, where Hilton Als is theater critic while Lahr contributes pieces such as a lengthy recent profile of Al Pacino.

FishbowlNY apologizes for misreading the Lahr tweet and failing to properly confirm with publication reps.

[H/T: Sam Adams, Indiewire]

Previously on FishbowlNY:
David Denby Looks Back at the Future of Movies
Denby Talks Snark with Charlie Rose
UCLA Prof Comments on Pauline Kael’s Research Theft