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Media:
Tina Brown's Double Play

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April 24 is Vicky Ward's first day working with Tina Brown as Talk's executive editor -- which, according to colleagues at the Post, where she was news features editor, means she's finally boarded her psychic mother ship. "We used to joke that one of these days she'd grab the back of her neck and pull off her face and reveal that she's really Tina Brown," says one reporter. Ward herself admits that "my husband did say, 'Perhaps you should get a haircut before you go, otherwise you'll look like Tina's Mini-Me.' " But how about her professional style? Several sources say the environment Ward created since arriving in the office eighteen months ago gave her section the nickname "the Mental Ward." She yelled ("bloodcurdling," recounts a reporter). She rewrote -- including quotes, says one former writer. She overassigned: When one story didn't run, she told the writer, "Well, that's the way Tina Brown does it." When Liz Garbus, who did an as-told-to story in the Post about her adventures in L.A. after being nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar, was unhappy with the piece, her dad, First Amendment lawyer Martin Garbus, rattled his saber, and Ward was heard shrieking, "Why didn't anyone tell me that Liz Garbus isn't just a nobody?" She forced her assistant and her photo editor to wear walkie-talkie headsets. ("My assistant was behind a wall," says Ward. "I couldn't see her.") She was spotted in the middle of the day trying on Dolce & Gabbana outfits for a party. In other words, says one reporter, "basic prima-donna behavior that doesn't go over well here -- it's a newspaper." Sean Elder, the Salon.com media columnist, was working on a piece comparing Brown and Ward, scheduled to run April 19. It didn't. As it happens, Salon chairman and editor-in-chief David Talbot has had discussions with Brown about possible online alliances with Talk. "We felt the story wasn't complete yet," Talbot told New York, denying any connection and suggesting that the story might be too "inside baseball." Hours later, Talbot said he'd changed his mind, and was going with the story. As for Ward, she takes the comparison easily: "Who doesn't admire Tina Brown?" she asks. "She's the best there is."


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