Boy, Girl, Boy

Sexism at The NYT Book Review?

In those days, Spy was red-hot, thanks in part to a Hollywood gossip column called "The Industry," written by a mystery author under the pseudonym "Celia Brady" and edited by Carter. In the September 1988 issue, Brady reported that the "logy old William Morris Agency" had brought Mengers "out of retirement" in hopes of restoring "some badly needed star luster" to its roster. But after five months and concerted efforts to "beg, borrow, blackmail, and cajole," Mengers had "still not been able to sign any of the major-stars-of-the-seventies on her wish list."

Spy mocked "the now-svelte" "former Shelley Winters look-alike" for trying to lure stars with "figurative offers of unsolicited sex." It was possible, the column conceded, that when Mengers bragged about "giving great head," she was talking about good client service, not sexual favors. In any event, her stumbling block was said to be her age, which was 50 at the time. Brady also pinned the blame on Mengers's producer and director friends, "high-priced but out-of-touch dinosaurs" who were "settling into the long, dark winter of their careers."

After Spy was sold in 1990, bruised feelings began to heal. Carter went on to edit The New York Observer and VF, leaving his high snarky days behind. By 2000, a gushing Mengers profile had appeared in Vanity Fair's Hollywood ("When Sue Was Queen") and Carter had entered a circle that includes Barry Diller, Geffen, and Mengers.

"She doesn't go out that much, so people come to her," Carter rhapsodizes in VF. "As a result, her exquisite pearl of a house is the most coveted dinner spot in town."

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