She, Tina

How Tina Brown revived the years with Ross

Mind, I won't argue if you call Tina corrupt too. By her lights, intellectual integrity is a moot concept, and ditto for seemliness. All the same, her surprisingly guileless ostentation about the "synergy" between her mag and power hubby Harold Evans's Random House annoyed people more than the fact did; back when they were between gentlemen, such gentlemen's arrangements were more discreet. If we're being realistic, Harry & Tina weren't even state-of-the-art. Compared to the slick ways Disney or Time Warner routinely uses one product or venue to boost another, the couple's penny-ante version ("I'll scratch Joe Klein's back if you hold his arms") was a mom-and-pop stand on the information highway. Sure, I wish Brown didn't pant so much to be a player. But at a certain point the wish devolves into a simpler one that she had bolder taste in who to suck up to.

To the extent that she is bold, it's because that's what she was hired for--a job she does the best she can, just like the Terminator. Even for fun, I've never heard anyone wonder what Tina's really like; no one thinks it matters. I'm not sure I could pick her out of a lineup even after the Times put her face on page one last week, an honor usually reserved for heads of state, recent indictees, and hurricanes. She lives for cleverness, but I can't recall one good anecdote about her, or a single smart remark she's made. ("I've always believed in lapses of taste," she sauced off to the Times, but that's no bon mot; that's a schoolgirl parroting cheekiness phonetically.) Like a lot of people driven to leave their stamp on the nebulous, she seems to have no interests--only goals, which are both endlessly attainable and never permanent. Her best-kept secret may be that she's a dullard, and the secret isn't even that well kept. When Tina made a rare bylined appearance in her own magazine, it was to prattle about Bill Clinton's charisma.She seemed barely aware that her reaction had something to do with his being president.

If her exit last week made anything clear, it was that The New Yorker's mystique had survived her tenure--or at least, how much people wanted it to. The Miramax venture that tempted her away will supposedly formalize the industry swap meet she's always hoped to run, since if all goes as planned her as-yet-unnamed magazine will be a clearinghouse for projects she can then rework into movies and TV shows. But Brown's never started one from scratch, and doing so ill suits her new-broom skills. How naughtily can she mess around with something she's originated? It was telling that, on being offered the solo shot she claimed to crave, her first move was to cajole Vogue bigwig Ron Galotti into joining her, suggesting how much she knows she needs springboards--Harry Evans, Eustace Tilley. Meanwhile, with that mix of fascination and indifference she taught us to enjoy guilt-free, we await the regime of David Remnick, whom we already know we don't envy. Anti-christs are hard acts to follow.

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