Hunk 'n hype: Everyone in America knows by now that our most eligible hunkabachelor, John F. Kennedy Jr., is intimately involved with George, the new politico-celebrity magazine sometimes referred to simply as "John Kennedy's magazine." He's listed as editor in chief, writes for it and is also said to be making pitches to advertisers. No surprise that The Kennedy Factor has brought the Hachette Filipacchi quarterly some fabulous magazine cover hits. Newsweek, New York and Esquire had his picture on covers last month. But they didn't get to interview JFK Jr. He's been refusing to talk to writers. This is unprecedented. In this business, even Demi Moore, our No. 1 movie box office star and the world's highest paid actress, f'hevvins sake, must work for her magazine covers. Take this month's Premiere cover story. Holly Millea's piece has Ms. Moore taking the writer to an Atlanta transvestite night spot, meeting her in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, doing an impromptu strip tease and even giving Holly a massage ("How weird is it that the highest-paid actress in Hollywood was massaging my gluteus maximus?"). Talk about working to pay off your cover! So here's George getting "ink" in major magazines without a word from JFK Jr. Awesome.
Listen, all you Imagemakers-to-the-Stars (Hollywood, Washington, TV, what-ever): Now you understand that yes, one can get a client on bigtime magazine covers without delivering the heretofore mandatory exclusive interview.
As for George's prospects: The original business plan called for a modest, niche-like circulation goal of 150,000. Sounded reasonable. Then the number got hiked to 500,000 after Hachette entered the publishing picture. This has forced editor JFK Jr. and associates to rethink content and direction. It's always worrisome when the original editorial vision falls victim during the start-up process. In the case of George, what we may be getting is another Vanity Fair clone. How essential will it be? Maybe George can hit that half-million goal if JFK Jr. decides to put his picture on every cover. The ones in swim trunks, of course.
Disney diastrophism: Pow! Jeff Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen launch their DreamWorks entertainment company. Pow! Seagram takes over MCA. Pow! Disney's Michael Eisner makes his Capital Cities/ABC deal. (We'll politely skip the content-impaired Westinghouse-CBS yawner.) And just when we thought it couldn't get any better, wham! Eisner takes Michael Ovitz out of his Creative Artists Agency ennui and names him president of Disney. Eisner, with two bold moves, has only realigned our entire entertainment industry, careers, new electronic media projects, network TV, print. Even advertising and agencies will be caught up in these tectonic shifts. Clearly, MO must know that one day he will succeed ME and everyone in the world will be reporting to him.
Yes, change is taking place faster than you can say Ted Turner-Time Warner. Ken Auletta, in"Awesome," his fascinating report on The Media Week That Was in The New Yorker, concluded:"New Masters of the Universe will come and go. But for the moment Michael Eisner occupies center stage alone." That was in the issue dated Aug. 14. By time Aug. 14 arrived, center stage was already being occupied by The Two Michaels.
Of course, there's speculation about the future of ABC-TV's news division in a Disney World. Will Disney's heavy hand hurt the news operation? Maureen Dowd's New York Times column, "Mickey Mouse News," noted that ABC "anchors and reporters were jittery .*.*. thinking deeply .*.*. about journalistic integrity."
She didn't refer to Diane Sawyer's embarrassing Michael Jackson "interview"-the one that Maureen Orth skewered, line by line, in the September Vanity Fair. Or Peter Jennings' pathetic news special about our Hiroshima A-bomb decision. Or the need for ABC to issue a lawsuit-ending apology for the "Day One" nicotine-spiking-addiction theory it aired as a ratings-magnet during the February 1994 sweeps.
What can Eisner possibly do to harm ABC News that ABC News hasn't already done to itself?
Drawing the line: Who passes for a journalist these days? In the O.J. Trial of the Century, we have Tracie Savage, a bit-part film-actress-turned-TV-news-reporter, fighting the good fight to protect a source; a misinformed source, as it turns out. Ms. Savage went public with a seriously unvetted story. Should more professional, full-time news people feel obliged to defend the work of one whose credentials are so flimsy?
And then we have Philadelphia's Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of killing a policeman. His case has attracted many opponents of the death penalty. My question is a narrow one: Does it advance the credibility of journalists when media describe Mr. Abu-Jamal as a journalist who is also a Black Panther, supporter of the radical MOVE organization and an active campaigner against police brutality? Would it hurt Mr. Abu-Jamal's cause if media referred to him as a writer and activist?
MediaScoop: Our Oliver Stone Award for Inspired Conspiracy Sighting goes to National Public Radio's Daniel Schorr. In discussing Gail Sheehy's Newt Gingrich profile in the September Vanity Fair on Aug. 19, Mr. Schorr pointed out that the New York Post quickly put the story on Page 1 ("Who's a Newty Boy?") and both the magazine and newspaper are owned by Rupert Murdoch, Newt's publisher. How do we break the news to Si Newhouse?M