American Pie 22.05.03

Move over Tina, it’s Harry’s turn. Although it’s not yet in the shops, a new book by Harry Evans, They Made America: The Innovators, is expected to be the basis for a four-part television series next year. The former Sunday Times editor will be host and narrator. The series, about the businessmen and financial pioneers who helped create the US – and even those big businessmen who recently almost undermined it – will, it’s expected, run for at least four hours. That’s about the same time-slot that’s been pencilled in for his wife Tina’s TV series, which made its delayed debut last month to somewhat mixed reviews.

It was to be expected, but also ironic, that the big staff meeting The New York Times convened to ventilate its concerns over the plagiarism and fakery by reporter Jayson Blair should be off-limits to the rest of the press. Even the Times’s own media reporter did not attend and had to cobble together his story (which the Times did print) from accounts of colleagues. The meeting, in a big Broadway cinema, lasted two hours. Most of the time was taken up by editor-in-chief Howell Raines responding to angry complaints and questions from staff about the way he has run the Times since he took over the editorship. Nevertheless, the feeling of most of the staff is that this is a “crisis of confidence” that is not likely to go away quickly. The biggest criticism of the Times’s management is that, in this case, it appears to have overlooked its reporter’s many mistakes and fabrications during his four years on the paper because he is black, and the Times is endeavouring to ethnically diversify. As for Blair, he has been incommunicado, although The New York Post reported he has hired an agent who is trying to negotiate for him a book, possibly even a film contract. Some say he could earn an advance of $1m.

The search for a new editor for US tabloid The Star has moved into the home stretch. A shortlist of names is now under consideration. Among them: Xana Antunes, a former editor of The New York Post; Larry Hackett, an executive editor at People magazine; and Vicky Ward, former New York Post features editor. As the paper plans to move its base back from Florida to New York, Roger Black is working on a redesign.

Not every editors’ belongings get auctioned off after they die. But the keepsakes of Liz Tilberis, editor of British Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, who died of ovarian cancer four years ago, went under the hammer at an auction house in Maine. There was a small turnout (even though it was for charity), which might account for the low bids – such as Chanel suits for $200 (£122). A collection of letters from the Princess of Wales, a close friend of Tilberis, didn’t even reach their reserve and were withdrawn from the sale. Said the auctioneer: “I don’t think many people realised what they were looking at.”

George is unlikely to live again. A plan to resurrect the magazine that John F Kennedy Jnr was running when he died in a plane crash off Martha’s Vineyard has met a big obstacle. The Kennedy family, which owns the copyright to the title, has refused to let anyone else use it. They have even turned down a request from old JFK Jnr associate Helen O’Donnell, who is trying to raise money for a new political magazine. George was JFK Jnr’s creation and it should stay that way, is how the family feels.

By Jeffrey Blyth

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