GOODBYE AND HELLO: Monday marked the first day of a regime change at Brant Publications, where Fabien Baron and Glenn O’Brien began their new jobs as co-editorial directors of its titles, Interview, Art in America and The Magazine Antiques. The day also marked the end of Ingrid Sischy’s era as Interview’s editor in chief.
Sischy remained in the offices very late into the night on Friday, the day the deal closed for co-founder Peter Brant to buy the stake in the business owned by ex-wife and Brant Publication’s chief executive officer Sandra Brant. Sischy, who attended Elton John’s annual Oscar party in Los Angeles on Sunday (sitting next to Donna Karan, Ellen DeGeneres, Billy Joel, Mary J. Blige and Sharon Stone, among others), said Monday that she’d just finished her editor’s letter and, thus, had completed editing her last issue of the magazine (April). “It feels really good,” Sischy said. “This is a decision that we very much believe in. It’s been a great 18 years. But I am now done.” Sischy said a party is in the works for the staff. She didn’t know the date yet, but it will probably happen during the next few months. She declined to talk about what’s next for her.
This story first appeared in the February 26, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Day One for O’Brien and Baron brought different duties (one half of the duo — Baron — was absent from the office while attending the shows in Paris, but O’Brien stayed Stateside to kick off the transition).
“I had breakfast ordered for the Interview staff this morning, and we talked about plans for the next few issues. Everybody seems great,” O’Brien told WWD. Then he moved into Sischy’s old corner office, which he said was the only vacant one at the magazine. But where will Baron sit? “When Fabien gets back, we can fight over it,” O’Brien said. “Or we can get two chairs.” O’Brien said the office was “filled with lots of good photography books. I donated them to our company library.”
The new chiefs are in the process of hiring a publisher to replace Sandra Brant, whose contract ends in a month. Though O’Brien would not name names, sources close to the magazine believe Alan Katz, former publisher of Vanity Fair and of defunct Condé Nast magazine Cargo, was one of the people contacted. Two other positions on the ad side also need to be filled, but O’Brien said those people likely will be appointed by the new publisher.
On the editorial side, O’Brien said Interview just signed up humor producer-director David Steinberg as comedy editor, and will hire a society editor, but did not reveal a name. The team is at work on the May issue and a special issue in June, but the September issue is when a full redesign will be unveiled. The team also has plans to redesign Art + America. Meanwhile, The Magazine Antiques welcomed an expat from House & Garden — executive editor Elizabeth Pochoda — as its new editor. She started at the title last week. — Stephanie D. Smith and Amy Wicks
ONLY IN NEW YORK: With Los Angeles’ Oscar parties having been diminished, and Entertainment Weekly having ceded its traditional viewing spot at Elaine’s, New York magazine had a relatively open field for its third annual Oscar party at The Spotted Pig. There were famous-for-media types (among them, James Truman, tight-lipped about the vague rumors of his plans to reenter media), the New York party standbys (Alan Cumming, anyone?) and some of the television stars normally seen at Elaine’s.
Among them were Gbenga Akinnagbe of “The Wire” and Gaius Charles of “Friday Night Lights,” who are currently costarring in “Lower Ninth” off Broadway. They have critically acclaimed shows in common, but Charles said they seem to have different fan bases. “We’ll walk down the street together, and black people will run up to Gbenga and yell, ‘Yo! “The Wire!” “The Wire!” “The Wire!”‘” said Charles, and not recognize him. “But white people will yell, ‘Yo, Smash! “Friday Night Lights!” I love that show!'” and not recognize Akinnagbe, he added.
Lauren Ambrose, Diane Neal of “Law & Order: SVU” and Eddie Izzard also lingered. New York’s film critic, David Edelstein, typed into his laptop on a stool in the center of the room upstairs, politely refusing drinks and wondering if he was in for an awkward moment with an actor whose work he’d negatively reviewed. “If they get a good review, it’s a judgment from on high and they don’t remember the writer’s name,” he said. “A bad review and they’re asking, ‘Who’s that a–hole?’ They always remember.” — Irin Carmon and S.D.S.
NICOLE AND ANNIE: Does Vogue already have a fall cover in the can? Ask Annie Leibovitz and Nicole Kidman — not to mention, of course, editor in chief Anna Wintour. “If you ring up Nicole Kidman and say, ‘Annie Leibovitz wants to photograph you for the next cover,’ she’ll be there that night,” Wintour says in the documentary “Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens.” And that appears to be exactly what she’s done: Wintour just teamed up the duo all the way Down Under for the second time in seven years. Earlier this month, Leibovitz, a pregnant Kidman and approximately 50 production crew members were spotted by a Channel Nine news helicopter in Richmond, just west of Sydney, shooting what turned out to be a feature for Vogue based on Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming movie, “Australia.” Kidman wore what looked to be an original costume from the film — a period riding habit with full skirts. However, the set was a miniature replica, since filming proper wrapped for the movie four months ago in Sydney, Queensland and the Northern Territory. Sources said, moreover, that it wasn’t Leibovitz’s only Australian trip over the past 12 months for this particular Vogue shoot. An Outback epic that begins in the mid-Thirties and concludes around the 1942-43 Japanese bombing of Darwin, “Australia” tells the story of English aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley, played by Kidman, who travels to the Continent to oversee the sale of a cattle property the size of Belgium. The film costars Hugh Jackman, Jack Thompson, Bryan Brown and David Wenham, and is due for a Nov. 18 release — four months after Kidman and her husband, Keith Urban, are due to welcome their first child. Kidman and Leibovitz have worked together many times, and this is the second time they have collaborated in Australia for Vogue: In 2000, the photographer shot the actress at Sydney’s Fox Studios on the set of Luhrmann’s last feature, “Moulin Rouge.” As for which issue’s cover Kidman will grace, that has yet to be finalized, sources said, although it’s likely to be September, October or November. A Vogue spokesman in New York declined comment on the shoot. — Patty Huntington