Despite being a little self-congratulatory (it is, after all, a story in Vanity Fair about articles written for Vanity Fair), Hogan’s piece offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes view of Dominick Dunne’s legendary coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial. Dunne was one of two journalists with a guaranteed seat at the proceedings, and as Jeffrey Toobin said, “Lance Ito might have been the judge, but Dominick was the mayor of the courtroom.” A complete archive of Dunne’s coverage of the trial can be found here.
The magazine was concerned about leaks and took security measures “every step of the way,” including on the photo shoot [where they hired security and confiscated cellphones], in the VF editorial office and at the printing plant for the upcoming issue. The story and pictures were done on a single computer that was never connected to the Internet, with the assets put on a thumb drive every night and then deleted from the computer. The story was even hand-delivered to the printer.
—Jason Abbruzzese explaining how Vanity Fair protected their Caitlyn Jenner exclusive in a piece for Mashable.
“As soon as the Vanity Fair cover comes out, I’m free.”
Vanity Fair has just released its cover image of Caitlyn Jenner—photographed by Annie Leibovitz, with a story by Buzz Bissinger.
The story is not yet available online, but Jenner tells Bissinger: “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life.’ ”
The Jinx—a six-part documentary miniseries about alleged murderer and real estate scion Robert Durst—aired its final episode this past Sunday, a day after Durst’s real life arrest for the murder of his close friend Susan Berman. Berman was killed in 2000. In 2002, Ned Zeman profiled Durst (and his alleged crimes) for Vanity Fair. The excerpt below offers a window into Durst’s early friendship with Berman:
The second influence was Susan Berman. Acerbic and lively, talking a mile a minute, controlling the room, Berman was, by almost any standard, an exotic. She had shiny, black Louise Brooks-style hair, and she had stories. She’d spent her childhood in Las Vegas and Hollywood, where her classmates included Liza Minnelli and Jann Wenner. Her late father, Dave Berman, had run the biggest hotels on the Las Vegas Strip—the Riviera, the El Dorado, and, most notably, the Flamingo, where his only daughter’s portrait hung over the reservation desk. That Dave Berman had been a confederate of Mob bosses Meyer Lansky’s and Bugsy Siegel’s—that, in fact, he was a notorious gangster whom one detective called “the toughest Jew I ever met”—was Susan’s obsession. Bobby was fascinated. They’d both lost their mothers. They both had paternal issues. They became fast friends. He doted on Susie, as he called her.
Yes, we’re all connected now. We can tweet a revolution in the streets or chronicle achievements large and small. But we’re also caught in a feedback loop of defame and shame, one in which we have become both perps and victims. We may not have become a crueler society—although it sure feels as if we have—but the Internet has seismically shifted the tone of our interactions. The ease, the speed, and the distance that our electronic devices afford us can also make us colder, more glib, and less concerned about the consequences of our pranks and prejudice. Having lived humiliation in the most intimate possible way, I marvel at how willingly we have all signed on to this new way of being.
In my own case, each easy click of that YouTube link reinforces the archetype, despite my efforts to parry it away: Me, America’s B.J. Queen. That Intern. That Vixen. Or, in the inescapable phrase of our 42nd president, “That Woman.”
It may surprise you to learn that I’m actually a person.
-Vanity Fair has posted its Monica Lewinsky essay, “Shame and Survival.”
“Senior editor Walter Clemons recruited Truman Capote to write a gossip column for the magazine, which created more turbulence at 350 Madison Avenue—Condé Nast headquarters at the time—and more fodder for the press. ‘Capote finally consented and wrote one,’ Lawson recalls. ‘And at one of the meetings everybody except me said, “Oh, we can’t publish this. It’s just not up to Truman’s quality!” I said, “I think it’s much better than the other stuff that’s coming in.” But it was definitely voted down. He was asked to rewrite a portion of it, which he did. It was still turned down. And then he went right down the street and sold it to Esquire. It’s always been a regret of mine that we did not publish that thing, because we would have had the last significant published report by him.’
“In a Washington Post article timed to coincide with Vanity Fair’s maiden issue, the publicity-mad Capote gleefully laid out his side of the story: ‘I didn’t hear from Mr. Locke for weeks, and then one day this messenger boy shows up at my apartment with my copy, and there are red pencil marks everywhere! You can’t rewrite a stylist. So I just sent it over to Esquire. They don’t touch my copy there. I hope nobody ever attributes Vanity Fair to anybody but Thackeray.’”
–From the history of the revived Vanity Fair, which had originally stopped publication in 1936. Read more from Vanity Fair in the Longreads Archive.
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Condé Nast executives, editors, designers and writers look back on the 1983 relaunch of Vanity Fair, which originally stopped publishing in 1936 and had been folded into Vogue:
As word leaked out that the company was pumping more than $10 million into the magazine, the sniping began. An enterprising Chicago Tribune reporter tracked down Clare Boothe Luce, who had been a V.F. managing editor in the 30s, and asked her what she made of the relaunch. “I do wish the new magazine could be as wonderful as the old,” she said, “but I don’t see how it can.” New York magazine also weighed in, long before the debut, with a skeptical piece reporting that Locke’s job was in jeopardy. Newsweek joined the fun, too, calling the prototype “aggressively ugly” and averring that there was an “uncertainty about Vanity Fair’s editorial focus.”
Last week, on February 18th, Norma McCorvey — aka “Jane Roe,” the plaintiff in the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court case that legalized abortion — passed away. Four years ago, in February, 2013, Vanity Fair published this fascinating profile of of her. McCorvey, who wasn’t able to actually have the abortion she fought for because of the timing of her pregnancy and the drawn-out case, famously had a change of heart many years later, becoming a pro-life activist. Through most of her adult life, regardless of whether she was fighting for or against women’s reproductive rights, McCorvey managed to monetize her position, not only publishing two memoirs, but forming one sketchy foundation after another, on either side of the argument. Author Joshua Prager had to write around the subject — whom he and all those interviewed portray as mercenary — because she refused to be interviewed without payment of her $1,000 speaking fee.
Young Norma McCorvey had not wanted to further a cause; she had simply wanted an abortion and could not get one in Texas. Even after she became a plaintiff, plucked from obscurity through little agency of her own, she never did get that abortion. McCorvey thus became, ironically, a symbol of the right to a procedure that she herself never underwent. And in the decades since the Roe decision divided the country, the issue of abortion divided McCorvey too. She started out staunchly pro-choice. She is now just as staunchly pro-life.
But in truth McCorvey has long been less pro-choice or pro-life than pro-Norma. And she has played Jane Roe every which way, venturing far from the original script to wring a living from the issue that has come to define her existence.
“I almost forgot i have a one thousand dollar fee,” she texted in August in response to a request for an interview. Told she could not be paid, she texted back: “Then we wont speak.”