Former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown couldn’t please everyone. In her timely new book, “The Vanity Fair Diaries,” she recalls a run-in with gossip legend Liz Smith, who died over the weekend at 94.
According to Brown, Smith’s girlfriend Iris Love submitted a story about her trip up the Nile to Vanity Fair in 1985, shortly after Brown had started her new job.
“Trouble is, picture’s great, copy not,” Brown recalled. According to Brown, 31 at the time, she decided to run the piece anyway, but only after a heavy edit that she knew would not go over well with Smith. As expected, Smith “got on the horn to give me the full Texan bawl-out.”
The British journalist also writes that in her early days at Vanity Fair, she managed to offend celebs by simply not knowing who they were. At a party hosted by New York magazine founder Clay Felker in 1983, she said that she asked Shirley MacLaine, “What do you do?”
She said that MacLaine, who won an Oscar for that year’s “Terms of Endearment,” gave her “a manic, hostile stare,” then turned to investigative reporter and Harvard Prof. Edward Jay Epstein to try and convince him to write a book about flying saucers.
In her new book, Tina Brown recounts a run-in with the late gossip great Liz Smith, seen here at an event in March.
Brown also recalls a close encounter with Donald Trump. In 1987, she commissioned a profile on The Donald’s first wife, Ivana, and recalls Trump relentlessly trying to “charm” her into a positive piece. Brown called his approach “direct and candid” and said it was “refreshing.”
Later that year, she saw The Donald again at a book launch party for his tome “The Art of the Deal.” The crowd, she recalled, consisted of “every gold digger who ever got into spaghetti straps.” But according to Brown, Trump thought it was a success.
“Can you believe this party!” she remembers him repeating. “No, seriously, can you believe it?”
On Monday, Vanity Fair announced that New York Times book editor Radhika Jones would take over the gig that Brown left in 1992. Graydon Carter, who retired in September, held the job for the 25 years in-between. “The Vanity Fair Diaries” hits bookstores Tuesday.