April 15, 2021

Harder Edge From Vanity Fair Chafes Some Big Hollywood Stars

But even the best relationships can hit a rough patch. Recently, Vanity Fair has toughened its coverage of Hollywood with articles about the troubles plaguing the making of Brad Pitt’s movie “World War Z” and the intrusiveness of Scientology in Tom Cruise’s romantic life and marriage to Katie Holmes.

Some celebrities and their handlers, accustomed to more control over coverage, are not pleased. In May, Gwyneth Paltrow, who recently cooperated on cover articles for People and Good Housekeeping, asked friends not to deal with Vanity Fair.

“Vanity Fair is threatening to put me on the cover of their magazine,” Ms. Paltrow wrote by e-mail, according to someone who had seen the message. “If you are asked for quotes or comments, please decline. Also, I recommend you all never do this magazine again.”

The magazine still has enormous influence in Hollywood. Graydon Carter, its editor, remains a figure to be reckoned with, and the Vanity Fair post-Oscar party remains the hottest ticket in town. But Ms. Paltrow’s move has prompted other Hollywood insiders to push back.

“Everyone grovels to Graydon and other writers there and covets invitations to their parties,” said Leslee Dart, a publicist whose clients include Tom Hanks, Woody Allen and Meryl Streep. “They’re going to be in for a rude awakening.

“I don’t think people care the way they used to anymore,” Ms. Dart said. “It’s not important to them to grovel as they once did.”

As early as last year, a cover story about Tom Cruise attracted not only the usual denials from the Church of Scientology but also an angry denunciation from Bert Fields, Mr. Cruise’s lawyer and a longtime Hollywood fixer. “Anyone associated with this sleazy story should be ashamed of themselves — not just for publishing lies, but also for being unoriginal, sloppy and dull,” he told E! Online.

In response to the criticism, Vanity Fair released a statement from Mr. Carter: “We wouldn’t be doing our job if there wasn’t a little bit of tension between Vanity Fair and its subjects. In any given week, I can expect to hear from a disgruntled subject in Hollywood, Washington, or on Wall Street. That’s the nature of the beast.”

The chill between the magazine and Hollywood is one indication of how much the relationship between celebrities and the media has changed. Celebrities and their publicists can now circumvent traditional media outlets and communicate with their fans directly through Twitter and Facebook. “Magazines are less relevant,” Ms. Dart said.

Vanity Fair remains one of the most thoroughly reported and written magazines in the industry. As enterprise journalism has been under siege and however soft their celebrities covers may have been, the magazine aggressively covers business and scandal, including in Hollywood.

Since Mr. Carter took over the magazine in 1992, it has won 14 national magazine awards. Apart from its Hollywood features, the magazine publishes articles on subjects as various as dating habits in Silicon Valley and the journalist Richard Engel’s experience as a hostage in Syria. While it features plenty of slender actresses like Fiona Shaw, it does not hesitate to print in the same issue a portrait of the stouter titans of Watergate, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.

“Vanity Fair’s influence is still enormous,” said Ron Meyer, president of Universal Studios, who in recent years has hosted an annual dinner honoring Mr. Carter the Thursday before the Oscars.

Because Vanity Fair must plan covers months in advance, it can stumble, as happened in July when the magazine featured Channing Tatum for an article on his latest film, “White House Down,” which bombed at the box office. The magazine is on surer footing with celebrities from bygone eras. The July issue also featured recollections about the actress Ava Gardner and an essay about Mary McCarthy’s 1963 book “The Group” about young women from Vassar, even though the college began admitting men 44 years ago.

The magazine has been mockingly called “Kennedy Fair” for its steady coverage of a president who died a half-century ago. The September issue features Princess Diana on the cover.

Alain Delaqueriere contributed research.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 10, 2013

An article on Monday about Hollywood’s displeasure with Vanity Fair’s sharper celebrity coverage erroneously included one establishment on a list of restaurants in which its editor, Graydon Carter, invests. Mr. Carter invests in the Beatrice Inn and Monkey Bar, but he is not an investor in the Minetta Tavern.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/09/business/media/harder-edge-from-vanity-fair-chafes-some-big-hollywood-stars.html?partner=rss&emc=rss