American Pie 30.01.03

The Financial Times is considering putting out a glossy magazine with copies of its American edition. This follows the success of the special five-year anniversary supplement it put out here in November. Frequency of the supplement has not been decided, but it is unlikely to be weekly after the failure of The Business, the weekly that was tried in London but folded last year.

Associated Press is preparing to quit the distinguished headquarters it has occupied for more than 60 years overlooking the famous ice-skating rink at Rockefeller Plaza. Over the years, the building has not only housed AP but also many British newspapers and foreign news services, including Agence France-Presse and Tass. Faced with escalating rents, which would have doubled its costs by at least $5m (£3m) a year, AP is planning to move to the less fashionable West Side of Manhattan, to the same building the Daily News occupied after its short-lived ownership by Robert Maxwell. It has not been decided what will happen to the huge, eye-catching AP logo of a group of journalists pounding typewriters on top of an unfurling roll of newsprint that has capped AP’s front door for decades. It would look a little incongruous in what was once New York’s meat-packing district.

American cartoonists have been mourning two of their brethren who died within days of each other. First Al Hirschfeld, who since the Roaring Twenties caricatured virtually every star who appeared on Broadway and whose drawings fill several walls of the famous showbiz restaurant Sardi’s just off Times Square. He drew mostly for the New York Times – and many celebrities agreed to be interviewed only after learning Hirschfeld would be doing the pen and ink illustration. He died just weeks short of his 100th birthday – still working in his attic studio, sitting in an old barber-shop chair, doing some new drawings of his favourite subject, the Marx Brothers. His death was followed by that of America’s most famous Second World War cartoonist, Bill Mauldin, creator of Willie and Jo, the two unshaven, listless, cynical American soldiers who became the favourites of the US forces – with the exception of General Patton, who thought they were “undisciplined and lousy”. Nevertheless, they earned their creator the first of his two Pulitzer Prizes. Mauldin died in California at the age of 81.

In view of the way the New York Post has dealt with Bill Clinton over the years – especially during the Monica Lewinski era – it was something of a surprise to find the ex-President visiting the paper’s New York newsroom. But there he was, chatting with staff before taking lunch with Rupert Murdoch. Prominent on the newsroom wall was a famous collection of Post front pages, many chronicling Clinton’s behaviour while he was in the White House. “No one even suggested taking them down,” said a Post spokesman. The reason for the lunch was not explained.

What is Harry Evans doing these days in the Time Inc building? He has been spotted several times entering and leaving the skyscraper offices in mid-town Manhattan. No secret, he insists. He is working on a new book, They Made America, about the innovators who made the United States what it is today. The book, due out next year, will also be turned into a four-part television series.

Jeffrey Blyth

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