Noticed how nasty Hollywood is being to the press these days? There has been a whole slew of movies this year in which the villains have either been conniving reporters, soulless tabloid editors or evil press barons. For example, Insomnia features an overbearing LA Times investigator who drives a good cop over the edge. In the remake of Mr Deeds Goes to Town a crotchety media baron leaves his empire to a wholesome Mr Everyman who is duped by a tabloid reporter who lies and cheats for a story. In Signs, cable networks are made to look like fools, who do little but gawk and gabble. Maybe it’s because of surveys suggesting the public believes the press is inaccurate, makes mistakes and no longer cares about people. In other words, the press is ripe for bashing.
With sales at supermarkets declining, American Media, publisher of US tabloids such as the National Enquirer, is going into the book business. Its first book, Sex, Power and Murder, is about the Chandra Levy case. Books on Michael Jackson and the recent crop of child abductions will follow.
Playboy columnist Taki is giving up the weekly column he has been writing for the New York Press and going into partnership with former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan to produce The American Conservative, a new right-wing magazine. It will compete against such long-established weeklies as the Weekly Standard and the National Review. Taki is bankrolling the venture to the tune of around $5m (£3.2m). Political magazines here are notorious money-losers and at the launch Taki conceded: "I don’t expect my children to live off the profits."
At the other end of the political spectrum, Washington-based British newsman Christopher Hitchens is cutting his ties to The Nation after 20 years. Lately he has been at odds with the left-leaning political weekly – for which he wrote a biweekly column called Minority Report – and notably with publisher Victor Navasky because of Hitchen’s support for President Bush’s pursuit of Saddam Hussein. His voice, however, will not be silenced. In addition to writing for various British publications, he will continue writing for The Atlantic and Harper’s Monthly.
A novel sending ripples through US fashion magazines is Bergdorf Blondes, by British journalist Plum Sykes, contributing editor at Vogue. After an auction involving four publishers, she is being paid $625,000 (£400,000) for the US rights to the novel, which is all about a young British fashion writer and her search for romance in New York. This is more than double the advance that Lauren Weinberger, a former assistant to Vogue editor Anna Wintour, was paid for her novel The Devil Wears Prada, which will also, reportedly, lift the lid on the world of US fashion magazines.
A new book is just out here about women reporters who covered the Vietnam war. A follow-up to last year’s The Women Who Wrote the War, the new book, called War Torn, tells the stories of nine women who went to Vietnam in the Sixties.
Sarah Ferguson credits the headline writers of Fleet Street for helping her keep to her diet. She says that every time she thinks of pigging out she remembers headlines such as "The Duchess of Pork" or "Fat, Selfish, Greedy Fergie"."I don’t want to go through that again," she said at a seminar in New York.