Arts & Culture

The Big Jewcy: Rebecca Milzoff, Writer/Editor at New York Magazine

Rebecca Milzoff is one of the most talented young Arts and Culture reporters in New York City.  A writer comfortable with reviewing and interviewing anyone from Hanson and Spoon to Philip Glass, and writing TV recaps about Glee, Milzoff represents … Read More

By / June 17, 2010

Rebecca Milzoff is one of the most talented young Arts and Culture reporters in New York City.  A writer comfortable with reviewing and interviewing anyone from Hanson and Spoon to Philip Glass, and writing TV recaps about Glee, Milzoff represents the future of what great arts coverage can be.  Currently a writer and editor for New York Magazine, Milzoff is definitely a rising talent worth paying attention to.

How did you get involved with covering The Arts? When I was a junior in high school, my illustrious home-state newspaper, the Hartford Courant, had a Sunday Arts section with a back page written by high school students. When the road-show of "Rent" came to Hartford, I was pretty much convinced no one was qualified to write about it but me (16-year old girl obsessed with "Rent"…yeah), and I guess I convinced the editor of the page, too.  I went on to cover such grand artistic achievements as "Simon Birch" and Sheryl Crow’s "The Globe Sessions," and sooo much more!  In all seriousness, it was lots of fun. What are your favorite memories from writing for NY Mag?  Favorite Interview? Wow, after five years here "memories" seems a little intense, but certainly the time I was given an audience with-nay, commanded to meet with!–Franco Zeffirelli was, er, memorable.  Sort of like meeting one on one with the Pope, I’d imagine, if the Pope were an extremely self-important, recently offended opera legend with what appeared to be an Italian errand boy.  The Maestro’s production of La Boheme had just been retired from the Met’s repertoire, and he wasn’t too happy about it.  We had a lovely conversation, in which he said a few unsavory things about me which I’m sure he thought were backhanded compliments. Picking a favorite interview is near impossible, but my favorite ones so far have usually been those who surprise me or go beyond the expectations I have of the subject.   So in that regard, I really loved a recent interview with Trey Anastasio for a profile I wrote this past fall. I’m not a Phish worshipper, which I thought might work against me, but I actually think it was a plus in the end, and I found him to be charming in a totally earnest way, intelligent, and really fascinating as a composer and musician. I’m happy to say we recently had a surprise reunion at the LA Philharmonic, and I hope it’s not the last time I bump into him! Any other writers you admire? As far as fiction goes, I’m generally a fan of cranky old Jewish men-by which I mean, Saul Bellow, Saul Bellow, Saul Bellow…..and other people too, like Michael Chabon, Philip Roth, Nabokov, Kafka (okay, I’ll stop before I become a cliché).  And I have to say that at New York Magazine I’ve had great experiences working with several writers as a fact-checker; the two who most often spring to mind are Jonathan Van Meter, who’s such an amazing profile writer, and Jesse Green, who gives me hope that it’s possible to be an incisive reporter and a nice person at the same time. Did you go to Jewish Summer Camp?  Any hilarious memories from your Jewish childhood? I spent five summers at Camp Ramah in Palmer, Mass., and it was a pretty trauma-free experience. But there was definitely hilarity-I had the pleasure of playing Miss Piggy in a Hebrew, summer camp version of The Muppet Movie (I still remember a bit of the lyrics to "Movin’ Right Along" in Hebrew) and playing one of three Peter Pans in an abbreviated musical version. I had to sing "I’m Flying" while not flying, but hanging, immobile, from a harness. Not comfy. You’ve been named a Big Jewcy, what does that mean to you? I’m not exactly sure, but probably even more young Orthodox boys will now want to give me an etrog on the street in Union Square on Sukkot.