NEW YORK — It’s called Talk, and with a debut issue revealing Hillary Rodham Clinton’s long-sought thoughts about her husband’s womanizing, the new magazine is living up to its name by topping newscasts around the world.
It was an auspicious beginning, coming days before the magazine hits the newsstands today, all of which is just fine with high-profile editor Tina Brown, who blazed a trail in the tooth-and-claw world of magazine journalism first at Vanity Fair and then at the New Yorker.
But with such a splashy start, the question is: Can Brown sustain the buzz and add Talk to her stable of glossy conquests?
Those attending the grand party Monday at the Statue of Liberty thought so.
Guests ranging from Madonna to Henry Kissinger boarded boats Monday to help the Miramax/Hearst-backed Talk celebrate its first issue in a star-studded picnic at the landmark.
The first lady did not attend Monday’s festivities, but hundreds of celebrities, politicians, literary types and fashion trend setters did, munching on fried chicken served in baskets at the foot of Lady Liberty. Fireworks lit up the sky. Joining in the fun were writer Salman Rushdie, actor Rupert Everett, Liam Neeson.
“I think that the mix of the guests really reflect what the magazine is all about,” said Nadine Johnson, a spokeswoman for Brown.
Kissinger gave the new magazine a positive review. “I think it’s an astonishing collection of extremely interesting appearing articles,” said the former secretary of state and father of Studios USA TV prexy David Kissinger.
Besides Clinton, the cover carries a provocative photo of Gwyneth Paltrow and a head shot of Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the front-runner for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination.
The first Talk, a thick edition printed on thin stock, also features playwright Tom Stoppard on his Jewish heritage, an essay on the late John F. Kennedy Jr. and a first-hand account of the slayings of tourists at a Uganda gorilla refuge in March.
“The one thing she has proven is her ability as an editor and her genius at attracting attention,” said Daily Variety editor-in-chief Peter Bart in an interview even before the Clinton story broke during the weekend.
Bart, who like Brown straddles the worlds of journalism, entertainment and celebrity, was unequivocal: “I’m a believer,” he said, although he conceded that “I think people here (in Hollywood) are skeptical” of the Miramax partnership.
“No one is surprised that a member of the Miramax stable adorns the cover,” Bart said of Paltrow. “But no one has ever really established the synergy between books and movies and magazines on an ongoing basis.”
But advertising executives have faith. “It’s a theoretical marriage made in heaven,” said Al Schreiber, managing partner of New America Strategies Group, a division of True North Communications.
Another issue is the fit between Brown, who spent a decade at the free-spending Conde Naste empire, and the famously tight-fisted Disney, which owns Miramax.
“These folks are a very different culture,” Schreiber said. “Everybody knows that. The ROI (return on investment) is going to be very closely scrutinized. But with her on board, they’ve hedged their bets,” he said.
Media analysts say the partnership with both Miramax and Hearst, with its vast magazine marketing and distribution network, also bolster Talk’s chances of success.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)