Originally created 07/09/98

After shaking up The New Yorker, Tina Brown resigns



NEW YORK -- Tina Brown, the Oxford-educated Londoner who brought editorial flash and controversy to the tradition-bound New Yorker magazine, resigned as its editor Wednesday to lead a film, TV and publishing partnership with Miramax Films.

In six years as The New Yorker's editor, Ms. Brown reshaped a magazine founded in 1925 with punchier articles, splashy photographs and extensive coverage of politics and popular culture.

Critics blamed her for supplanting the weekly's rich literary history with a hard tilt toward glitz and celebrity, but admirers said she added some much needed pizzazz to a dusty anachronism.

Despite attracting more attention, the 800,000-circulation magazine lost millions of dollars a year.

Ms. Brown's departure comes as The New Yorker's parent, Conde Nast Publications, begins to fold the fiercely independent-minded magazine into the operations of the company's other 15 publications -- including Vogue and Vanity Fair -- to cut costs.

Ms. Brown -- who previously headed Vanity Fair -- said the decision to leave "is no reflection on my wonderful experiences at Conde Nast."

"This partnership with Miramax is a unique creative and business opportunity -- to own what we create and to expand our vision into other media," she said in a statement issued jointly with Miramax, a subsidiary of Walt Disney Co.

The new company will publish a monthly magazine, produce films and TV programming and publish books. Ms. Brown will serve as chairman.

Ronald Galotti, publisher of Vogue, also resigned Wednesday to join Ms. Brown as president of the new venture with Miramax.

Miramax Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein said the new company "fulfills my goal of producing a dramatic act two for Miramax by entering exciting new areas of creativity with two tremendous partners."

"She is an innovator who revolutionized the magazine business at both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker," Weinstein said.

Conde Nast had no comment, said spokeswoman Andrea Kaplan. She said successors would be named shortly.

Ms. Brown was The New Yorker's fourth editor, and first woman to hold that post.

During her tenure at Vanity Fair, which she took over in 1984, circulation jumped from 260,000 issues a month to 1 million and she stirred debate with some covers, notably that of the nude, pregnant actress Demi Moore.

Ms. Brown maintained a generally literary focus at The New Yorker, but the magazine's transformation became a story in itself. As at Vanity Fair, she gained attention with controversial covers, such as a painting of a black woman and a Hasidic Jew kissing, as well as stories on issues from the O.J. Simpson trial to President Clinton's sex scandals.

"I think she leaves kind of a mixed legacy," said Mike Hoyt, a senior editor at Columbia Journalism Review.

"She added a lot of juice. But I think something was lost in the process. There are not so many places you can get the unexpected, leisurely, well-told tale that's not topical -- the sort of timeless tale. That tended to get squeezed out of the magazine to a large extent," Hoyt said.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Jimmy Breslin said of Brown: "She took a great institution and ruined it. I love Britain (but) it's incredibly boring. I don't see how you can base a magazine in New York on an undying interest in London."

But others said the magazine was returned to cutting-edge relevancy, citing a number of stories it broke.

"I think she took an important magazine and made it more interesting, more important and much more widely read," said media critic Steven Brill, who publishes Brill's Content magazine.

"She kept it current, she kept it relevant. I don't agree with anyone who says she sacrificed editorial standards," Brill added.

Answering her critics, Ms. Brown told The Associated Press on Wednesday that her legacy would be "28 new writers of supreme talent, photographers and illustrators who had never been seen before and a body of fiction and nonfiction that will be collected in anthologies for years to come."

The parent of Conde Nast, Advance Publications, whose chairman is S.I. Newhouse Jr., bought The New Yorker in 1985 for $168 million. While circulation has grown steadily in the last six years, the business side has struggled. Last year, the magazine lost around $10 million.