August 17, 1999
Everybodyís Talking About Talk - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
Tina! Tina! Tina!, everybodyís mad about Tina Brown. The vivacious Ms. Brown made big headlines last year when she stepped down as editor-in-chief of The New Yorker, and ever since her days at Vanity Fair, some people are just mad at her. For those of you who have absolutely no idea who Tina Brown is, hereís a short c.v. Tina Brown is the pinnacle of the magazine industry, sheís been editor-in-chief of Tattler, thatís a European tabloid. After her work abroad, America called and was on her way helming Vanity Fair. She completely overhauled the mag and is credited with its current success. From Vanity Fair she proceeded to the upper echelons of the mag world and became editor-in-chief of The New Yorker. So last year after the departure at The New Yorker, Harvey Weinstein, the head honcho at Miramax, asked her to help him start a new magazine from scratch. Weinstein, is a big man in the movie business. He chairs Miramax, which is responsible for some of the biggest hits of the last 4 or 5 years. Why those films are hits, and Iím talking about Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, Il Postino, Shakespeare In Love, The English Patient and Life Is Beautiful, among much else, is because heís got a gift of buzz and PR no other guy in movies todayís got. With his and Disneyís money, some $25-million dollars, and Tinaís gutsy and commanding attention, Talk mad itís much heralded debut 2 weeks ago.
Sure, magazines debut all the time, but this is Tina and Harveyís baby. A really public and masterfully orchestrated baby, that made headlines a year before its debut. Tina Brown is probably the only magazine editor in America thatís been a question on Jeopardy. Her successful razing of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker made her one of the most admired and hated bitch, er, I mean woman in publishing circles. She has the reputation of being a control freak, but a freak that gets magazines out of the presses and into consumers, millions of them. Miramax wanted a magazine that would help them find material for movies that they could launch. Itís debut issue has itís own starlet, Gwyneth Paltrow in nothing more than leather and a whip in the issues debut. Talk has been heavily marketed, hyped and hyped again. Beneath it all, the critics have not gone out in a limb to praise it, but have said itís actually pretty good.
So, I myself bought into the hype and got my own copy. Itís big and heavy, but itís pages are flimsy. Itís a monthly, so that accounts for its weight and it says itís general interest, so itís cut out the size of Life. Talk is flashy and you couldnít help but notice it, if not for all the news stories about the candid piece inside about Hillary. Hearst Publishing is also a partner with Miramax, and so like its own Marie Claire or Cosmopolitan, there are millions of ads. A whole slew of ads bookend its masthead up to page 49. Talk is a generally a general interest magazine, at least thatís what Tina says. Itís really one of those high end mags for the white middle aged professional, working on the East coast. It joins the subscription list of other high brow mags like: Brillís Content or The New Yorker.
Iíve read through some articles. The Hillary Clinton piece by Lucinda Franks is quite a good read. You donít actually have to read it, because itís been quoted in the news a day before it came out, only adding to the hype. Franks gives us an inner look at Mrs. Clinton and all are wondering about the Clintonís personal relationship is spilled open here. Tucker Carlson has a very interesting look at George W. Bush. We really get a clue into this very vague personality. Bush actually seems alive in the piece. Purists will not want to miss Tom Stoppard, who writes a very good memoir about discovering his Jewish roots. Stoppard is a very-well known playwright and co-wrote Miramaxís Shakespeare In Love.
This is one of the few times in Pop Culture, where the hype is justified. There is great substance in Talk and the pieces are well done. Thereís a whoís who list of writers and editors and thereís actually a lot of stuff in this issue thatís worth talking about, even for me. Tina Brown has created a hit and Talk is now, not just the conversation piece for WASPís.
Questions and comments may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
An archive of Joseph Planta's previous columns can be found by clicking HERE .