FREEDOM OF SPOOF: Good news for all of those who view the right to ridicule your boss as a First Amendment issue: A New York State Supreme Court judge has batted down American Media Inc.’s attempt to quash an unpublished novel by Stephanie Green, a former researcher at Star magazine. Green’s book, “Dishalicious,” is about a celebrity tabloid whose nasty editor, Penny Saxe, is clearly meant as a stand-in for Bonnie Fuller, Star’s real-life editorial director. AMI, which owns Star, filed a motion for pre-action discovery in November, arguing that it needed a copy of the manuscript to determine whether Green had breached the confidentiality or non-disparagement clauses in her contract. In a decision handed down last week, Judge Joan Madden rejected AMI’s arguments, saying the publisher “has not met its burden of demonstrating that it has a potential cause of action.” An AMI spokesman responded, “We have confidence in our position and intend to file an appeal.”
Green, who’s been waiting for more than six months to resume shopping the 300-page manuscript, said her next move will be to find an agent. “I think American Media, when they brought this case against me, thought I would just roll over and play dead,” she said. “I suspect this could actually be advantageous for many writers who wish to use material that’s inspired by their own real-life experiences.” All you editors in chief better get ready for the roman à clefs now.
— Jeff Bercovici
CAMERA SHY: Irving Penn famously doesn’t like being honored, even skipping last year’s CFDA Awards to avoid picking up his Eleanor Lambert trophy. The International Center of Photography is the latest to find out about Penn’s aversion. It had offered him their 2005 Infinity Award for lifetime achievement, but the photographer declined, his studio confirmed. “He doesn’t really like awards,” said an associate.
The ICP now will give the Infinity to another famed photographer, Bruce Weber, who will accept it on May 10 at Skylight Studios, with Ralph Lauren presenting and Renee Zellweger serving as co-chair. While Weber wasn’t their first choice this year, a member of ICP pointed out that “he’s been on the list [of candidates] consistently. And that’s not a very long list.”
— Sara James
LUNCHROOM POLITICS: Michael’s was littered with print and television notables on Monday — even more so than usual. Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour was kept waiting by her lunch companions, the father-and-son team Martin and Jonathan Norton of jewelers S.J. Phillips in London, who arrived late. But instead of plopping down in the vestibule and reading Gotham like a lesser Michael’s patron, Wintour — sunglasses firmly on — headed over to Barbara Walters’ table for a friendly chat. In doing so — perhaps intentionally, perhaps not — she failed to greet her direct predecessor at Vogue, Grace Mirabella, who was seated at the next door table.
Wintour also had a noticeable effect on the magazine’s current fashion news and features editor, Sally Singer, who was there dining with Robert Burke of Bergdorf Goodman and Style.com’s Candy Pratts Price. Singer’s posture immediately improved the second she saw her boss. Vogue and Style.com, like WWD, are units of Advance Publications Inc.
Walters, long of ABC, had a big hug for NBC’s Tom Brokaw, who was lunching elsewhere in the restaurant. And ensuring that all three of the major networks were well-represented, CBS had Lesley Stahl in the room.
— S. J.
TURN THE PAGE: For The New Yorker, which has changed less in 80 years than some magazines do in 80 days, even a minor transformation is cause for comment. This week’s issue brings a new permanent back-page feature, a cartoon caption contest, as well as a redesigned “Goings On About Town” section. The contest, which invites readers to submit a punch line for an ambiguous drawing, has been a staple of the magazine’s annual cartoon issue. The last one drew more than 10,000 entries, according to editor David Remnick. Though The New Yorker (which, like WWD, is part of Advance Publications Inc.) can sometimes seem enamored of its own history, it can’t afford to live in the past, said Remnick. “A magazine is not a museum. If we didn’t make changes, we’d still look like we did in 1925.”
BEAUTY ON THE MOVE: Harper’s Bazaar didn’t have to look far to find a replacement for departing beauty director Kerry Diamond, who’s leaving to become vice president of public relations for Lancome. Alexandra Parnass is moving over from sister title Shop Etc., where she held the same position. Parnass previously worked with Bazaar editor in chief Glenda Bailey at Marie Claire. She starts May 16.