FACT & FICTION: Art Cooper is the latest editor to get the novel treatment from a former assistant. Dave Kalstein, who left GQ this spring after selling two screenplays, is hard at work on a novel about life at one of the biggest men’s magazines, and a central character is based on the late Cooper, or someone awfully like him.
But the not-quite-struggling young writer shouldn’t be grouped with Lauren Weisberger, the author of the brisk seller and critical clunker, “The Devil Wears Prada.” For one, Cooper gave Kalstein the green light to write a piece about the joys of pouring Perrier and other duties at Condé Nast for GQ’s March issue (headline: “Screw You, GQ; I’m off to Hollywood”). Plus, when reached for comment, Kalstein said his book isn’t a tell-all.
“It’s unfortunate that ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ happens to take place in the same world as my book,” he said. “It’s not that one is better than the other, but ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ is juicy and gossipy and is about the magazine world, whereas my book is more of a novel that just happens to take place in the magazine world.”
Still, it does seem to be heavily based on real life. “The name of the book is ‘Show and Tell’ and it takes place over the course of one week in the final days of a legendary editor at a men’s magazine,” said Kalstein. “It’s about how a certain era is about to pass away.”
And some of the people he worked with may be a little worried. Just a little, though.
Last week, Kalstein received an e-mail from his former boss, senior editor Katrina Szish, who has since left the magazine. Her message? Be nice to me.
“Have you seen ‘Deconstructing Harry?’” said Kalstein. “People still get worried about these things.” — Jacob Bernstein
THE REAL CAROLYN?: Her husband called her a “cokehead;” she ruined his magazine by driving away his partner; she refused to give up her Calvin Klein model lover, and her pedicure appointment on July 16, 1999, delayed her, and possibly contributed to her husband’s and her sister’s deaths — all according to Edward Klein’s new book, “The Kennedy Curse,” excerpted in the August issue of Vanity Fair, which hits newsstands next week.
The excerpt, bound to upset Kennedy supporters everywhere, paints Carolyn Bessette as a “clinically depressed” recreational drug user, while her “narcissist” husband, John F. Kennedy Jr., goes along with it. As Klein succinctly puts it, “her insecurity funneled a need to control and manipulate; her frequent use of cocaine made her paranoid.”
She certainly made it hard for Kennedy to get any work done at his magazine, George. When she wasn’t sending faxes pleading with Kennedy to come home, she was urging him to ditch his partner, Michael Berman. “It was Carolyn’s constant meddling in the editorial operations of George that finally wrecked John’s relationship with Berman,” Klein writes.
And she had a habit of keeping the staffers she did like out late. One who went out for dinner with her while Kennedy was home sick remembered: “She made a half-dozen trips to the bathroom and came back to the table with white rings around her nostrils.” The next day, after dropping her off at 3 a.m., the staffer was approached by her husband. “‘Why did you keep my wife out so late?’” Kennedy asked. “A better question, John, is why your wife didn’t want to go home,” the staffer retorted. Klein declined to comment Monday on the book, which will be published by St. Martin’s Press next week. — Greg Lindsay
FUN AT SAKS: Saks Fifth Avenue’s fall ads are brimming with color. The retailer hired Melvin Sokolsky to photograph the campaign at the New York flagship. Known for his sense of fantasy and invention, Sokolsky’s images feature hot pink and white balloons festooned outside the store. One shot has hot pink tissue paper flying throughout the first floor. Erin O’Connor is featured in the ads, wearing a purple and black tweed Chanel suit and hot pink Burberry raincoat.
The first two ads, which carry the tag line: “Make It Saks. Make It Your Own,” will run in the September issues of Vogue, Vanity Fair, W, In Style and The New Yorker, and in select local markets.
Sokolsky began his shoot at 4 a.m. “We wanted to catch the light at the crack of dawn,” said Jan Richter, senior vice president of creative for Saks. “We want to show that Saks is alive with energy, color and fun.” — Lisa Lockwood
IN & OUT OF VOGUE: Erica Bartman quit but they pulled her back in. The notoriously difficult but skilled associate publisher of Vogue gave notice she was leaving the magazine a few weeks ago in order to spend more time with her family — but Condé Nast wooed her back. A Vogue spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter, except to say, “She will be continuing in her role as associate publisher.” — J.B.