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Monday, August 2, 1999 Published at 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK

World: Americas

Tina Brown talks back

Tina's new venture off to a flying start

The Hillary Clinton interview is just what Talk magazine needs to get off the ground.

The new publication hits the streets on Tuesday, edited by one of America's best known Englishwomen, Tina Brown.

The former editor of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker has made waves wherever she has worked and now looks as if she is repeating the pattern.

Talk magazine promises a mix of punchy stories and provocative photos.

It is backed by the Miramax movie studio and the big idea is that articles in the magazine will be translated into film plots.

In the first edition, there is an eye witness account of the murder of eight tourists in Uganda.

It is written by Mark Ross, their safari guide, who has also signed a deal with Miramax for the film rights to his story.

Tina Brown says Talk is her last throw of the dice after 20 years of editing magazines.

After Oxford, she went to the Sunday Times, landing not only a job but the editor, Harold Evans, who is now her husband.

At 25, she became editor of the Tatler, increasing its circulation four-fold.

In 1984, she was appointed editor of Vanity Fair and the family moved to New York.

Circulation jumped from 260,000 a month to more than 1 million.

[ image: Perfect scoop for launch]
Perfect scoop for launch
It may have been helped by the controversial front covers like the one featuring actress, Demi Moore nude and heavily pregnant.

She was then asked to work the magic on a much loved and respected American institution, the New Yorker.

Her editorship was ruthless and she fired 69 people in her six years, including some of the New Yorker's veteran writers.

Her power and influence in the magazine world have made her enemies.

She was accused of taking the New Yorker downmarket and making it too frothy and gossipy.

Controversial style

In an interview in the Sunday Telegraph she was asked why she inspires admiration but virtually no affection.

"It depends who you talk to," she says. "I have a great sense of affection from the people who have worked with me for years.

"But I would be surprised if I did not get a lot of negative press. After 20 years of being an editor, I have fired a lot of people and killed a lot of copy.

"I do not make friends that way."

New challenge

Her new venture, Talk, will have an initial circulation of 500,000. It will be printed on large, thin paper which can easily be rolled up and carried around.

Brown says the portable format, more common in European newsweeklies, is an important part of the magazine's feel.

Apart from the Hillary Clinton scoop, the publishers have been cagey about what is in the first edition of Talk.

But it will apparently carry a profile of Governor George Bush of Texas and an account of life in a trailer park.

Ms Brown stands at number 48 in the list of the 100 most powerful women in the US.

Friends and enemies agree that if anyone can make Talk magazine successful, she can.

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