American Pie 06.05.05

A picture,
they used to say, is worth a thousand words – but these days, a series
of photos showing Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is thought to be worth
$500,000. That’s the sum Us magazine is said to have paid for shots of
the Hollywood couple strolling hand in hand along a secluded African
beach. The pictures, which ran to 12 pages, were taken by a
photographer working for the London office of Big Pictures. People
magazine joined the bidding war but reportedly dropped out as the price
soared. The Sun bought the British rights, but how much they paid has
not been disclosed. Star magazine also dropped out, but then did
something controversial and some might say unethical. It melded two old
pictures of Pitt and Jolie – one taken in the US, the other in the
Caribbean – into a cover picture that at first glance looks little
different. However, Star claims that it clearly stated the picture was
a “composite”. A year ago the magazine changed the colour of Demi
Moore’s dress from brown to white in anticipation of her wedding. But
its editorial director, Bonnie Fuller, is unrepentant about the latest
row. “This is the biggest celebrity story in years. It’s our job to
sell it,” she says. 

Condé Nast is planning a men’s version
of Vogue some time later this year. Men’s Vogue will be aimed at
affluent over-35s, with a focus on fashion, entertainment, food and
home. The initial plan is to print 400,000 for sale on newsstands and
200,000 aimed at subscribers. If it catches on the magazine will be
published quarterly.

Enthused by the success in Britain of Nuts
and Zoo, Hearst is working with former Maxim editor Keith Blanchard on
another men’s magazine which could come out in the US this year. A
company spokesman insists he is not on the staff but has a “consulting
assignment”. Although Hearst has eschewed Maximstyle magazines in the
past, it does not shy away from ones that are “sexually charged” – it
publishes Cosmopolitan, for a start, and lately Esquire has become
noticeably more sexy.

For
most of his life in New York, Alistair Cooke lived in an apartment on
Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. He wrote his stories, books and his weekly
“Letter from America” at a desk looking out over Central Park. He loved
the scene so much that when he died his ashes were scattered in the
park (illegally, it turned out). Now his widow, Jane, who is 92, is
having to move out. The landlord wanted to increase the rent from
$11,000 to $15,000 a month. His argument was he could sell the
apartment for millions of dollars. Reluctantly Cooke’s widow, who says
she can’t afford the new rent, is moving to a smaller apartment around
the corner.

The increasing number of journalists killed in Iraq
(63 at the last count) has got CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour
worried, especially now that she has a five-year-old son. She confided
in an interview that she finds her job increasingly difficult – not
just because of the danger, but because she has to spend so much time
away from home. In the past few months the 47-year-old has covered
stories in Iraq, Afghanistan, other parts of the Middle East and Sri
Lanka. After the birth of their son, she and her husband, former State
Department spokesman James Rubin, pledged they would never be away from
home for more than two weeks at a time. That hasn’t happened. “Its
becoming very difficult,” she says. But she is still a committed
newswoman, and covering international news is more important than ever.
“And there are fewer people doing it.”

Former Daily Mail reporter
Richard Lay continues to make a name as a playwright. His 12th play – a
satire on Hollywood, called Lunch at Armageddon – is in rehearsal in
New York. After 17 years on the Mail, eight of them as Nigel Dempster’s
deputy, Lay moved to the Big Apple as a freelance but continued to work
for the Mail under bureau chiefs Paul Dacre and George Gordon. His
first play, God’s Policemen – a satire about serial killers – had its
New York debut in 1989 and then had a run in Paris in the late 1990s.
His other plays have included Andy Warhol’s Secret Girlfriend, Sweet
Butterfly on an Alligator’s Lip and, last year, The Oboe Player.

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