Vanity Fair editor finally opens up about the infamous Gwyneth Paltrow article, comparing her to Kim Jong-Un
Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter has finally decided to talk about the magazine’s war with Gwyneth Paltrow last year, and what lengths she went to to get an expose squashed before it ever came out. He says Gwyneth issued a “Kim Jong-un” style demand to her friends in an attempt to ban them from talking with the magazine.
The longtime editor of the magazine is finally breaking his silence after months of rumors surrounding the “epic takedown” of Gwyneth. He says that Gwyneth went so far as to call him personally, asking him how to get the “haters” on her side.
Graydon says the original story was only supposed to be a normal piece on the actress, after noticing “that people tend to have passionate opinions on the actress.” Soon after, “What began so innocently quickly took a turn. “Once the story was assigned, the writer reached out to Paltrow’s representatives and friends, and Paltrow sent the now-infamous email to her show-business pals. She asked that they not speak to Vanity Fair about her, or about anything else ever again. Ever. Never. Kim Jong-un couldn’t have issued a more blanket demand.”
As soon as the email was discovered and made public, “all hell broke lose” and the public was going nuts over what the expose would include.
Mr Carter writes: “Not to bore you with the details, but the whole Vanity Fair–Gwyneth Paltrow brouhaha began innocently enough at a routine morning editorial meeting last spring. We were reviewing assignments and batting around story ideas, and at one point I idly mentioned that I would be interested in reading something on Gwyneth Paltrow. And then things just went haywire as magazines and Web sites tried both to anticipate what we had in our story and to best us.”
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Mr Carter had hired contributing editor Vanessa Grigoriadis to write the feature and she handed it in at the end of the summer – but he decided sit on it there was no way it was the sensational story that people expected.
‘It was just what had been assigned,’ he admits, ‘a reasoned, reported essay on the hate/love-fest that encircles Gwyneth Paltrow.’
He adds: ‘I thought it perfectly explained the whole phenomenon. But it was such a far cry from the almost mythical story that people were by now expecting – the “epic takedown,” filled with “bombshell” revelations – that it was bound to be a disappointment. What to do? I decided to sit on it for a time.’
Finally, he writes, ‘in October, Gwyneth called me. We talked for about 20 minutes about the story and her reaction, or over-reaction, to it.
‘At one point, she asked my advice as to what to do to get the ‘haters’ on her side. I suggested putting on 15 pounds. I joked that it works for me. She replied I had put on much more than that. Which I thought was fair and funny.’
But that was not even the end of it.
Two months after the phone call, news broke of their truce and Mr Carter says Vanity Fair received mail – must of it criticizing them for caving in.
With the new Hollywood issue featuring Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Idris Elba and Chiwetel Ejiofor on the cover, Mr Carter adds: ‘There had also been conflicting reports that Gwyneth had coerced George Clooney into not being on our cover – clearly not true.
‘There were reports that she was trying to scuttle our annual Oscar party, that she was going to organize a competing dinner. The Paltrow camp subsequently denied both claims.
‘We were in uncharted waters. At Vanity Fair, we tend to keep stories we are working on under our hats. It’s not easy being a monthly magazine in an Internet age, and since most of the publications we compete with are weeklies or dailies, when it comes to the stories still in train, a certain amount of institutional secrecy is required.’
Finally, months after the original story broke of Gwyneth’s ban on Vanity Fair, the new cover features the strapline ‘Goop, Gossip and Gwyneth by Graydon Carter’.
The editor adds: ‘The Gwyneth Paltrow saga had clearly just gotten away from us. My instinct was to continue to let it sit until people had forgotten about it, or at least until expectations had diminished.
‘The fact is the Gwyneth Paltrow story, the one we ordered up, as delightfully written as it was, is not the one the anti-Gwynethites expect.’
‘That it has generated more mail and attention than many of the biggest stories we’ve ever published only makes the situation more complicated.’
Sounds to me like he caved. I’m so disappointed in him and the magazine!