Imagine wrangling your first cover story as a freelance journalist and it turning out to be an interview where Elton John admits publicly for the first time that he is bisexual. That’s what happened to Cliff Jahr; the October 7, 1976 issue piece garnered waves of additional outside coverage and led its famous (and then 29-year-old) subject to stop performing live for several years.
But how did Jahr do it? Today on Medium, Joe Fox takes a look back at the efforts of the reporter and photographer Ron Pownall, who got the assignment when Annie Leibovitz was unavailable. The two freelancers worked together diligently to make the interview happen, agreeing on a further strategy to put John at ease:
Jahr, a corn-fed Midwestern boy from St. Paul, Minnesota, was openly gay. \"Friends in the business who knew him said I shouldn’t be surprised if he hit on me,\" Pownall said. \"Cliff was out and proud. He was convinced that Elton was gay, or bi, but no one talked openly about homosexuality then. Certainly not in the press.\"
Jahr wanted to ask Elton about his sex life, but worried how he’d respond with the recorder rolling and a camera in his face. \"Cliff was sure he could get Elton to open up if he got him alone,\" Pownall recalled. \"We agreed that he would give me a signal, at which point I would stop shooting and leave the room. The code word was privacy.\"
To find out what happened after Jahr uttered “privacy”, read on. Jahr sadly died from AIDS in 1991. RIP.
[Photo: Alexander Mazurkevich/Shutterstock.com]
The New York Times loses one of the men responsible for its recent success, as chief technology officer Rajiv Pant says goodbye to join a “soon-to-rise-on-the-radar” startup, according to reporter Ken Doctor. “He amplified the culture of innovation and supported the notion of engineers being peers with journalists,” said chief information officer Marc Frons. “He spurred that innovation and discovery, really embodying it and took it a lot further than I could have done on my own. He will be missed.” The Times digital hierarchy is undergoing changes, with Kinsey Wilson moving above Frons and paywall executive Paul Smurl leaving. Expect more changes to come…
Time Inc. dives into data, grabbing the services of Dr. JT Kostman. He’ll be senior vice president and chief data officer, leaving Keurig Green Mountain… The company also gets Bob Newman, who returns to the fold as creative director of This Old House Ventures. He had been at Reader’s Digest… Condé Nast Entertainment hires Joy Marcus as executive vice president and general manager of digital video. She had been at Dailymotion North America and replaces Fred Santarpia, who moved to Condé Nast proper last fall… Read More
TVNewser: Curious about how the president travels? ABC’s Jonathan Karl got an upclose look at Air Force One.
TVSpy: Scary stuff — a reporter describes what it was like being at the scene of the Garland, Texas shootings.
LostRemote: For anyone who has ever wondered “What is the perfect reality TV hashtag?” your prayers have been answered.
On Sunday, Jimmy Fallon and Bono were spotted filming an apparent Tonight Show skit riffing on the U2 lead singer’s very unfortunate Central Park bicycling accident. And last night, per Fox New York’s Luke Funk, the band with Fallon in tow were busking at the Grand Central subway station.
A photo posted by U2 italian fans (@u2italianfans) on May 5, 2015 at 12:10pm PDT
All in advance of U2’s return to The Tonight Show Friday May 8, an episode which at this point appears to have only the Irish rockers as confirmed guests. In a report about the busking, The Guardian ended with a brief reminder of why it might make sense for the group to perform Angel of Harlem at Monday night’s chosen location:
Those wishing to travel to Harlem from Grand Central station can take either the Hudson or Harlem lines north. The journey is a mere 10-minute ride to 125th Street.
The band kicks off its Innocence + Experience world tour next week in Canada.
As editor-in-chief of Smithsonian Journeys, The Smithsonian’s new quarterly print publication tied to the organization’s travel arm, it is Victoria Pope‘s job to highlight single, successive destinations. The debut issue is all about Paris and the next one will focus on the Inkas.
When it comes to globetrotting, Pope has certainly amassed the requisite personal experience. From an item in the Chicago Reader by Michael Milner:
She worked awhile for the daily in Saint Petersburg, Florida, and then on the UPI foreign desk in New York, and then she freelanced in Vienna and found herself covering the rise of Poland’s Solidarity movement in Gdansk.
Thanks to an Alicia Patterson fellowship, she was present in central Europe as the Iron Curtain collapsed in 1989. Later she was in Moscow a couple of years, and back in the States she became executive editor of U.S. News & World Report and managing editor and then deputy to the editor in chief of National Geographic.
Pope also worked at one point in Germany for the Wall Street Journal. She also confesses to Milner that she feels sad when she speaks today to young journalists, because of the greatly diminished amount of mentoring and posting opportunities of a kind that cemented her scintillating career.
Merely having a feminist angle on a pop-cultural phenomenon or current event is not enough for the editors at Bitch: “Feminist rants won’t make the cut–neither will basic feminist analyses. Writers have to go deep.”
If you want to make it into the pages of this freelance-dependent feminist magazine, look around to see what others are writing–and make sure you’re not offering more of the same.
Bitch has a small staff, with no staff writers, so it relies heavily on freelancers and pitches for all of its magazine content and its website. Just be sure the road to all articles leads to feminism or social justice. There must be some sort of tie-in. And present the editors with smart, new analyses. “When Miley Cyrus was all anyone was talking about, we got a ton of pitches, but they all said the same thing. So even if you have a feminist response, we want to hear something new. We don’t just want to publish what everyone else is saying,” says [editor in chief Kjerstin] Johnson.
For more, read: How To Pitch: Bitch
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The headlines under which Variety New York film editor Ramin Setoodeh makes his cover story case say it all: “Hollywood Trans Formation” and “Transgender is the New Black in Hollywood.” He ties in Bruce Jenner, a variety of forthcoming films and TV projects as well as the Emmy Award-winning Amazon series Transparent.
But the anchor of his piece is Orange is the New Black breakthrough star Laverne Cox:
On a spring night over dinner in downtown Manhattan, Cox spoke about how far Hollywood has come – and still needs to go – in embracing transgender artists across all facets of the entertainment business. \"I never wanted to be the only one,\" she says, referencing an interview she heard with Sidney Poitier about how it felt to be the first African American to win a Best Actor Oscar, in 1964. \"The change will happen when there’s a slew of us…\"
Cox, who grew up in Mobile, Ala., was harassed and bullied for being too feminine. She studied dance and acting in college, and had always wanted to be an actress, but took a detour into fashion school in New York. \"There were no examples at the time of trans people who were professional actors,\" she says. Then in 2007, Candis Cayne became the first transgender co-star of a primetime series, ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money. The show aired for just two seasons, but seeing Cayne on TV inspired Cox to send 500 postcards to talent reps, before she landed her current agent, Paul Hilepo.
There’s some funny stuff in the Variety piece as well, such as Cox recollecting her reaction when she got to meet her idol Oprah at an Essence magazine luncheon. In her rent-controlled studio apartment downtown, Cox has a poster of her 2014 Time magazine cover. Looks like she might need to make room for another.
Anna Kendrick is Glamour’s new cover star. Inside the June issue, the 29-year-old actress discusses everything from developing a sense of humor to the gender bias in Hollywood.
“All the films nominated [for a Best Picture Oscar] this year had male leads,” Kendrick explained. “Like, every single one. So I’m glad that [equality’s] feeling like a bigger issue now. There’s [a film I’m considering] now where I have to wait for all the male roles to be cast before I can even become a part of the conversation. Part of me gets that. [But] part of me is like, ‘What the f–k? You have to cast for females based on who’s cast as males?’ To me, the only explanation is that there are so many f–king talented girls, and from a business standpoint it’s easier to find women to match the men. I totally stand by the belief that there are 10 unbelievably talented women for every role.”
Glamour’s June issue hits newsstands May 12.
Out magazine senior editor Jason Lamphier’s interview with famed disco-era producer Giorgio Moroder is a funk-tastic way to get into the early groove for summer. The piece includes hilarious photos of Moroder posing with loose disco balls and, of course, lots of Donna Summer memories, whose Love To Love You Baby\" launched Moroder into the stratosphere.
Moroder and Summer lost touch for several decades, before reconnecting on the west coast in 2010. From Lamphier’s piece:
Moroder had moved to Los Angeles, while Summer had been living in Nashville and Florida. She reached out to Moroder, saying she was interested in moving to LA, so he invited her to his high-rise in Westwood. She loved the building so much that she rented the apartment directly below his. They were in frequent contact and tossed around ideas for a reunion tour, but nothing ever came to fruition.
Only Summer’s immediate family knew of her [lung cancer] illness, but Moroder and his wife, Francisca, suspected she was sick. \"About six months before she died, she sent me a letter and really thanked me — not just ‘thank you,’ but ‘you changed my life,’ \" he says. Moroder and Summer saw each other more in those two years than they had in the two-plus decades after they stopped recording together. He fondly remembers Summer overhearing him through the floor one day when he was tinkering with his keyboard. \"After 10 minutes or so, she called and said, ‘Giorgio, what did you play? It was great!’ \" he says. \"I was just improvising.\"
Summer, who passed away in May 2012, would no doubt have gotten a kick out of the way Daft Punk’s album the following year re-introduced her pal to the EDM generation. Moroder’s album Deja Vu, which features collaborations with Sia, Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue, comes out June 16.
Hearst Magazines International (HMI) has named Rudy Konyushkov chief technology officer. Konyushkov will continue to serve as CTO of Hearst Shkulev Media (HSM), a joint venture of between HMI and Shkulev Media. He has held that role since 2011.
“Rudy has been a great asset at Hearst Shkulev Media, and I’m thrilled to have him take on a broader role at Hearst Magazines International and the more than 80 countries in which we operate,” said Hearst Corp.’s CTO Phil Wiser, in a statement. “He has exceptional intuition and prowess in the technology management and strategic sourcing arenas and his oversight will be key as we intensify forward motion on initiatives around the world.”
Konyushkov will report to Wiser and Simon Horne, senior VP, CFO and general manager of HMI.
Hats off to the social media team at National Geographic. The @natgeo Instagram account has more than 17 million followers and more than one billion likes. Those numbers make National Geographic the most followed non-celebrity Instagram account and the only media brand among Instagram’s top 20 accounts.
Obviously National Geographic has a huge advantage over other media companies. It can post stunning, unclose shots of lions, while other brands are stuck showing off their latest print cover. It’s definitely hard to compare, but at least the National Geographic team knows that.
“One of the keys to our success on Instagram has been the incredible collaboration between our photo team and some of the best photojournalists in the world,” said Rajiv Mody, VP of social media, in a statement. “By handing over the keys to photographers who are out in the field, we’ve been able to give our Instagram followers immediate and intimate access to the tremendous work National Geographic is doing every day.”
While on his way to a speaking engagement, mayor Bill de Blasio got to experience the joy of taking the subway, just like the rest of the world. As is often the case with taking the train, it was delayed. And so de Blasio fired off an angry email to his staffers. Oh, and he accidentally cc’d a New York Times reporter.
“We waited 20 mins for an express only to hear there were major delays,” wrote the mayor. “This was knowable info. Had we had it, we would have avoided a lot of hassles. Let’s cross-check our info with them when I take the subway. This is a fixable prob.”
Despite trying to appear like an Average New Yorker, de Blasio doesn’t quite pull it off. Everyone knows that there is no fixing the subway and there is certainly no such thing as avoiding the “hassles.” You must embrace the slog of the subway commute. You must embrace the delays, the cancellations and entering the one car without AC. Either that, or move.
Famed food writer Joshua Ozersky was found dead in a Chicago hotel yesterday morning. Ozersky was there covering the James Beard Awards. The cause of his death is still unknown.
Ozersky was the founding editor of New York’s Grub Street. He won a James Beard Award in 2008. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News and Food & Wine. He previously served as a columnist for Time and joined Esquire as a restaurant editor-at-large last year.
In a series of tweets, Esquire released the following statement: “We’ve just learned that one of our own, legendary food writer Josh Ozersky, died today at 47. It’s difficult to express how much we’ll miss his fervor, uniquely carnivorous tastes, and unyielding candor. May he rest in peace.”
The May/June issue of Live Happy magazine, a glossy launched in the fall of 2013, is all about finding happiness at work. A challenge for all of us, but one that the folks at Good Morning America must meet while starting their workday at the crack of 4 a.m.
This morning on the program, the cover featuring co-hosts Amy Robach, Robin Roberts, Lara Spencer, George Stephanopoulos and Ginger Zee was officially unveiled. Inside is a four-page feature article by freelance contributor Gina Roberts-Grey, who is based in upstate New York.
Other companies tapped for the issue include Brown Paper Tickets, Patagonia, Logitech and EverFi. And speaking of workplaces, the background of Live Happy co-founder and CEO Kym Yancey is well worth noting:
Yancey is a gold record-winning composer and producer. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, he was signed to Capitol Records as the drummer and a singer with the legendary funk band SUN, which frequently appeared on Soul Train and in sold-out concerts throughout North and South America. He later parlayed his music skills into advertising, and launched one of the top multicultural advertising agencies in the United States. Along the way, Yancey wrote award-winning commercial jingles, receiving more than 200 awards for creative excellence.
Yancey’s fellow co-founder, editorial director Deborah Heisz, came up with the idea to highlight the GMA gang. It’s the first time the magazine has put media personalities on the cover.
It sounded too good to be true. In this weekend’s New York Times Styles piece about the continuing recent migration of NYC folks to Los Angeles, reporter Alex Williams zeroed in on a Greenpoint transplant paying just $1,250 for a two-bedroom Echo Park bungalow with a yard.
It was indeed too good to be true:
In other words, the Echo Park bungalow goes for $2,500 per month, still a relative bargain for any incoming New Yorker and an amount back in line with what Angelenos have come to expect these days. Per Curbed LA editor Adrian Glick Kudler, a stream of mocking tweets over the weekend was followed by quick confirmation of the too-good-to-be-true monthly rent:
In an Instagram comment Sunday, a friend of Turner’s roommate (DUH) posted “My friend lives above that girl – $1250 is her half of the rent. Apparently NYT never asked her for any clarification.”
Beyond this factual error, the NYT article overall is not nearly as bad as some LA media folks are making it out to be. Although it could have benefited from a mention of another element that is making LA feel more like NYC for the past 12 months’ wave of east coast transplants: the parallel entrenchment of ride-share services.
TVNewser: Oh to be a fly on the wall when Geraldo Rivera and Don Lemon hang out together.
LostRemote: Fusion is launching a Snapchat series that will “weave video, text, and animation together in a way that brings history to life in a compelling way.” We believe them!
TVSpy: One way to quit your job — put it in writing on a cake.
Marcus previously served as a venture partner at Gotham Ventures. Prior to that, she was the U.S. general manager for Dailymotion.
“From launching and building Dailymotion’s North American operations to her recent work at Bloglovin’, Joy has spent her career building and scaling successful digital businesses and is joining us at just the right moment to take our premium digital video business to the next level,\" said CNE’s president, Dawn Ostroff, in a statement.
Marcus joins CNE May 18.
After Nick Loeb laid out in the New York Times last week the details of his embryonic custody battle with Sofia Vergara, the actress had no comment when asked about the op-ed at the Thursday premiere of her latest movie Hot Pursuit. But today on The Howard Stern Show, she gracefully addressed this very strange situation.
Vergara told Howard she did not read the NYT piece, partly because her publicist told her the op-med made “no sense.” She and the host agreed that if Loeb wants to be a father, he should go ahead and do so with other principals. Especially since two separate contracts signed by Vergara and Loeb at the time of the embryonic freezingz prevent him from doing anything independently. “There’s nothing really going on,” Vergara explained this morning. “It’s signed, it’s done. We have a contract.”
Other topics covered during the breezy Stern interview included Vergara’s childhood, whether she keeps the lights on during intimate moments and the famous Pepsi commercial she made in the late 1980s, at age 17.
Time Inc. has named Dr. JT Kostman senior VP, chief data officer, a new role at the publisher. Kostman comes to Time Inc. from Keurig Green Mountain, where he served as chief data scientist. Postman previously held senior-level roles at Samsung, AIG and Aptus Insights.
“We are thrilled to have someone of JT’s caliber and experience join our journey at Time Inc,” said Lynne Biggar, executive VP of consumer marketing and revenue, in an announcement. “The breadth and depth of his knowledge over his successful and diverse career will ensure his tangible and immediate value.”
Kostman begins May 18. He will report to Biggar.