American Pie 13.03.03

No fewer than three novels about the fashion magazine business are due in the shops in the next few weeks. In addition to The Devil Wears Prada, by Anna Wintour’s former Vogue assistant Lauren Weisberger, about a trendy but hard-to-work-for editor (Press Gazette, February 28), there is Fashionista, by Glamour and InStyle copy editor Lynn Messina, and In Full Bloom, by Glamour and Self writer Caroline Hwang. Both novels are about unpopular editors. So far, none has been optioned by Hollywood – but if they were, who might be cast for the editors’ roles? Simon Dumenco of New York magazine, who is in the running for the editorship of GQ, has been fantasising in Folio about whom he would cast in what he tentatively calls Glossies: the movie. His choice for an Anna Wintour is a slimmed-down Catherine Zeta-Jones;Êfor Glenda Bailey of Harper’s Bazaar, Toni Collette; while Cosmo editor Kate White would be played by Meg Ryan. Meryl Streep would be Tina Brown, he says, while in the men’s roles, he would cast comedian Nathan Lane as Maxim’s Keith Blanchard, and Anthony Hopkins with hair extensions as Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair.

More showbiz news: Tina Brown, who has signed to do four TV interview specials, says she won’t be too upset if they are not a big success. At a women’s career counselling seminar in Canada, she confessed: “If they fail I can always say it just was a gas.”ÊBut it was the conference itself that was a letdown: the promoters had hoped to sell at least 2,000 tickets at $150 (£100) a-head, but only about 300 turned up – many confessing they had never heard of Brown. She was paid $20,000 (£12,500) for her appearance, it was reported.

As the Iraq crisis intensifies, do American magazine readers want serious news or escapism? Both, apparently. The title with the biggest recent circulation rise has been US Weekly, a bubbly mixture of celebrity and showbiz news, whose sales are up 55 per cent – but number two spot goes to Atlantic Monthly, the established political magazine that has given much space to the crisis in Iraq and the Middle East,with a 52 per cent rise. Other political magazines with sales rises are Mother Jones, up 49 per cent; The New Republic, up 42 per cent; Harper’s, up 28 per cent; and The Nation, up 16 per cent. Esquire, which has recently published more serious articles including some war reporting, has seen an 18 per cent rise. “We are at a hinge moment in our history,” said the Atlantic managing editor, Cullen Murphy, explaining the rise. Even the New Yorker reports an upsurge: a few weeks ago it ran a 20,000-word profile on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Editor David Remick said that five years ago the piece would have been unthinkable.

Who these days would like to work next door to Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based TV news network that has broken stories about Osama bin Laden?ÊNot some of the TV news outfits with offices on K Street in Washington. Last week the network moved there from its old offices in the National Press Club building – but the move prompted increased security, and now nobody is allowed inside without an escort. That means long delays for visitors, and staff making 20 to 30 trips a day to the lobby. “We are fed up,” said one of Al-Jazeera’s disgruntled neighbours, who include Associated Press Broadcasting Services, the Aga Khan Foundation, and a division of PBS.

Jeffrey Blyth

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