Though publishing legend Tina Brown takes her knocks, few critics deny her extraordinary ability to reconceive herself, most recently as the impresario behind the Website the Daily Beast, a blend of writerly observations and “curated” news links that drew 11.4 million views in its first month. The Beast leaped out of the gate with Christopher Buckley’s GOP-vexing Obama endorsement and a buzzy J.Lo profile that revealed the performer as an incoherent Scientology dupe.
“Life,” Brown once proclaimed, “is a process of reinvention, of moving on.” And she has certainly practiced that mantra: revamping Vanity Fair and modernizing the New Yorker (bemoaning its resistant staff as “belles-lettres wannabes”) before attempting to build a synergistic empire with Talk; then brushing off its embers (“There is nobody more boring than the undefeated”) to emerge as Diana’s biographer. For her latest incarnation, she’s remixed previous personas—hype artist, Zeitgeist sniffer, patron saint of talented writers—but added flannel (“I spend a hell of a lot of time in my pajamas”) and a new zeal for penny-pinching. The erstwhile spendthrift, who once spent up to $25,000 for Melanie Griffith deconstructions, now reportedly offers journos 50 cents a word. But she’s also one of the few people in town currently courting talent.