By William Stevenson
Updated December 04, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

No one ever accused critic-turned-columnist Frank Rich of lacking an opinion. Dubbed ”the Butcher of Broadway” for his hatchet jobs (the prom in the musical flop Carrie ”looks like the sort of cheesy foreign-language floor show one flips past in the nether reaches of cable television”), Rich also passionately praised artists and shows he admired: His reviews of Dreamgirls and the special 3,389th performance of A Chorus Line now read like poignant memorials to director-choreographer Michael Bennett, who died in 1987. Hot Seat effectively documents a transitional era that saw the rise of Brit Andrew Lloyd Webber and a pre-Disney dearth of successful new American musicals. And when Rich is at his bitchy best, he really makes you wish you’d seen so-bad-they’re-good fiascos like Moose Murders. A-