Remnick Doesn’t Like American Idol Because Everyone Sounds like Whitney Houston

The Morning News‘ Robert Birnbaum interviewed David Remnick recently, and published an unabridged transcript of their talk. It is really fantastic. A few excerpts here.

Mr. Remnick on Slate:

“Michael [Kinsley] invented one of the first really good, uh, call it a magazine, paper, whatever—I guess paper is not the word we should use … It’s terrific—look, his contribution couldn’t be greater to American journalism.”

On Bill Maher:

“You know, Bill Maher and I grew up—he was a neighbor of the drummer of a rock band I was in; eventually it went by the name of Derek and the Dialectics—and during breaks in rehearsing in my friend’s basement, I played basketball in Bill’s driveway.”

On being unsentimental about the printed product:

“Given a choice between the survival of the long-form narrative journalism, criticism, cartooning—all the things that we do—and print itself, there is no contest. No contest. I, at the age of 51, may still think, for me, the best technology for reading the New Yorker at this moment is the print version. But that’s just me. If your son, decides otherwise, that he wants to read it on an iPad, kenahorah [so be it].”

On Gail Collins:

“She’s very funny.”

On football-writing in The New Yorker:

It’s not our strongest thing.”

On Tina Brown:

“I thought Tina did some very important things.”

On American Idol:

“The reason I don’t like American Idol is that a lot of the talent seems to be a replication of the singing style of Mariah Carey and Whitney Huston. I don’t need it.”