FASHION WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM: André Leon Talley has made an unusual request this fashion week: he doesn’t want to be anywhere near the front row or the cameras. Part of it is due to the level of, um, scrutiny Talley has been subjected to in the past, but he said he also just wanted to tip his hat to his colleague, sittings editor at large Camilla Nickerson, whose shoot for October’s Vogue is the “It” reference of the season. “The whole thing has spiraled out of control,” said Talley. And anyway, he said, “I’m tall. I can see from the fourth row, the scrum or back in the bleachers. It’s not where you sit. It’s the contribution you bring with your ideas and your talent.”

The request had everyone confused, though.

This story first appeared in the February 10, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

One showroom person who handles seating said, “I’ve had people from the Rocky Mountain News tell me they want to sit in the front row, but I have never had someone tell me they don’t want to sit in the front row.”

Others were worried that because of all the press in the tents, the showrooms would be written up for bad behavior for having sat the legendary editor at large in the back, even though that was precisely what he wanted.

But some things don’t change. According to one insider, Talley’s assistant went so far as to relay the un-diva-like request by gently suggesting that Talley might not attend unless he was moved. And there was the fabulous fur coat and shades he was sporting at Diane von Furstenberg, which seemed to be the fashion editor’s idea of invisible chic that, naturally, meant he was highly visible. — Jacob Bernstein and Greg Lindsay

SHE MADE HER (EM)BED: Judith Miller can’t catch a break. Just one week after the New York Times reporter was the subject of a thinly veiled swipe by its public editor, Daniel Okrent, The New York Review of Books has chimed in. In an 8,420-word piece called “Now They Tell Us,” written by Michael Massing, Miller, among others, is criticized for being one of the many “U.S. journalists who were far too reliant on sources sympathetic to the administration.”

Going after Miller for her weapons of mass destruction reporting and her connections to Iraqi dissident Ahmed Chalabi is nothing new. As the piece points out, The Times reporter has been the “subject of harsh criticism in Slate, The Nation, Editor & Publisher, The American Journalism Review and the Columbia Journalism Review.”

But there’s one thing that differentiates the NYROB from the others: Miller is married to Jason Epstein, a founder of the NYROB who still writes for it occasionally. And the Review’s co-editor happens to be Barbara Epstein, his ex-wife.

Of course, no one really expected that the biweekly would interfere with a critic’s work on such an important topic.

“They’re pretty honorable, how could they dare censor it?” pointed out one industry observer. But the daisy chain effect was amusing to some. “She’s married to Epstein, whose ex-wife runs the publication [that’s critiquing her],” said another.

Miller said the biggest problem was the piece itself. Speaking of her husband, she said he no longer has a managerial role at the title before adding, “If you’d like his view you should talk to him about it. We’re independent agents. Obviously I disagree with Massing’s description of The Times’ coverage. I think it’s biased and unfair and I think The Times did an excellent job of presenting different perspectives under very difficult circumstances, [i.e , classified information].”

Miller also said she’d been “misquoted and misrepresented” in the piece and that a letter has been sent. It has not yet arrived at the Book Review, though, said Barbara Epstein.

As for Jason Epstein, he said, “I can’t discuss that,” and hung up the phone. — J.B.

NAVEL-GAZING: There’s more movement in the world of media reporters than there is in the rest of media. The latest to throw in the towel is The Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Rose, who is taking a plumb job as a page-one editor at the paper. For interested parties, Dow Jones is said to be taking applications. — J.B.

BY THE WAY: More turmoil at American Media. Star Magazine publisher Colleen Wyse is out after just 16 weeks on the job. The decision was hers, but one source familiar with the situation said, “You need to be able to handle someone who’s demanding and knew the game better than she did. It was an amicable parting, though.”

Meanwhile, speaking of the tabloids, the road to becoming the nominee of the Democratic party doesn’t really start with winning delegates. It begins the first time that the National Enquirer reporters dig through your trash can. So send congratulations to John Kerry, who earned his first “Enquirer Investigation” this week. In it, a “former girlfriend” and “political insider” said the Massachusetts senator is so vain he wanted to “make love where he could see himself in the mirror;” has an extensive history smoking pot; has former girlfriends that include Hollywood insiders Morgan Fairchild and Catherine Oxenberg; is technically Christian, although Jewish by descent, and has had plastic surgery “at least once” to have his double chin turned into a, well, single chin.

Perhaps typically, the campaign had no comment by press time. However, much of the information in the “Special Enquirer Investigation” was, in fact, old hat. The Drudge Report posted before-and-after plastic-surgery shots of Kerry more than two weeks ago; he’s admitted to smoking pot; his history as a womanizer has been printed about in reputable outlines like The Times of London, and his paternal grandparents were in fact Jews who converted to Catholicism, which he does not deny.

A botoxed Jewish President whose past girlfriends include actresses from “Falcon Crest?” Clearly, the fashion and media worlds could not have asked for a better representative in the White House. — J.B.

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