Of course it should’ve been called the Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Celebrity Commercial because Brown was there mostly to deliver a pitch for her new website, which she subsequently did in a straightforward and shameless fashion.
MFA honcho Malcolm Rogers provided the fulsome introduction, replete with statements such as “that spark of genius that is Tina Brown’s” and “it is my great privilege to introduce and your great privilege to hear Tina Brown.”
Reel it in, Malcolm. Reely.
The audience was then privileged to hear the following:
• Tina Brown (TB) describe her editing career as “Three Weddings and a Funeral”
• During her first turn as editor – at British fixture The Tattler – TB rocketed to prominence together with Princess Diana
• Next stop Vanity Fair, where TB says she invented Dominick Dunne and reinvented journalism’s approach to high society, rising to the Reagan-era celebrity
• By the way, TB’s Vanity Fair cover of a very pregnant Demi Moore? “The image of the ’90s.”
• Onward and upward to the New Yorker, “a magazine that was dying on its feet.” TB restored the venerable magazine to its 1920s Harold Ross roots, introducing photography (air kiss Richard Avedon), introducing a new illustration sensibility (air kiss Art Spielgelman), and introducing John Updike to Anthony Lane (air kisses all around).
• So much for the Three Weddings. Now, the Funeral: Talk magazine, which was supposed to be a combination of European news magazines and highbrow publications. Blame it on Harvey Weinstein, blame it on 9/11. TB: “It wasn’t the right fit for me.” Talk went silent.
• But not TB. She smartly proceeded to write a book about Princess Di, wondering all along “how she turned up in that tunnel in Paris with that totally feckless loser Dodi Fayad.” Laughter and applause.
• Next stop: the Internet. TB says The Daily Beast wants to be “a pilot fish through the media insanity . . . someone you trust making choices to inform and entertain you.” It resembles the “European high/low mashup in newspapers” with the plastic, elastic, vibrant – “so impatient, like I am” – medium of the Internet.
• Actually, it’s the Misuss and I who are getting impatient.
• High-end luxury ads are coming to the Daily Beast. (So is paid content.)
• Rupert Murdoch’s decision to block Google from linking to his news outlets is “not a good idea,” since “our intellectual rhythms have changed with Google.”
• TB doesn’t believe in journalism schools.
• Most print publications will die out before too long.
• That’s okay, because public/private enterprises like the BBC will support journalism.
Not to mention, there will always be someone to support Tina Brown.