Exclusive: Vanity Fair Pulls Motion Picture Home Piece From its Hollywood Issue

Decision to pull David Margolick’s 5,000-word piece on the long-term care facility’s closure follows spiking of feature on warring new media outlets

EXCLUSIVE:

Call it the incredible shrinking Hollywood issue.

On the heels of killing a major piece on Hollywood digital media, Vanity Fair has now pulled a 5,000-word piece about the battle to keep the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s longterm care facility open, TheWrap has learned.

Penned by frequent contributor David Margolick, the article was originally scheduled to run in the February 2 issue of the magazine, an annual Hollywood-themed tome strategically released in conjunction with the Oscars.

Margolick was informed two weeks ago that the story was being cut from the issue, about the same time the magazine spiked a piece about TheWrap, Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter.

“I was told it was held for space reasons,” Margolick told TheWrap, referring to his investigation into the embattled MPTF.

Beth Kseniak, a spokesperson for Vanity Fair, said the piece may get published at a later date.

“It didn’t get killed,” Kseniak told TheWrap. “Stories get held all the time. A lot of stories are vying to get into the Hollywood issue.”

Writer Cari Beauchamp’s investigation into the Hollywood trade wars — focusing on The Hollywood Reporter’s Janice Min, Deadline’s Nikki Finke, and TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman — was spiked this month, purportedly because “it wasn't catty enough,” according to The New York Post.

TheWrap has now learned that the illustration for that piece depicted exactly that: a catfight, and this led Beauchamp to walk away from the project. 

VF enlisted famed cartoonist Edward Sorel to draw a caricature that depicted a catfight among the three journalists. Kseniak could not confirm the information. 

Art may have already been commissioned for that piece when it was pulled, but the Margolick article does not appear to have made it as far along in the development process. Fact checking on the lengthy piece had not begun in earnest.

Still, an individual with knowledge of the magazine speculated that editor Graydon Carter was doing a surprising amount of tinkering with the issue right up until it needed to go to print. 

“It’s really late to be killing [the story],” according to an individual who frequently writes for the magazine.

Margolick’s story was to center on the two-year standoff between the families of MPTF residents and the organization’s leadership over a controversial plan to shutter the Hollywood home for the aged and displace its 138 residents.

That move has resulted in a heated grassroots campaign among residents’ families and public relations debacle for the MPTF board; a group that includes such industry heavyweights as Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and Fox Co-chairman Jim Gianopulos.

In the wake of the decision to hold the piece, there was speculation by MPTF activists that Carter, who in recent years has abandoned hard-hitting reporting about the movie industry in favor of softer interviews and gauzy retrospectives, had balked at taking on such a contentious issue.

Margolick originally intended to revise and update an unpublished article about the MPTF’s Woodland Hills’ campus and history, but learned about the heated situation embroiling the long-term care center from TheWrap’s coverage. To gather string, Margolick spent several days in Los Angeles right after Thanksgiving.

He stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel, and interviewed members of the patients advocacy group Saving the Lives of Our Own, as well as MPTF CEO Bob Beitcher.

For members of Saving the Lives of Our Own, the decision to put Margolick’s article on ice stings.

“I hope Vanity Fair’s allegiance is to the truth, and not to those who provide a guest list for their parties,”  Richard Stellar, a member of Saving the Lives of Our Own, told TheWrap.