Tongues are wagging yet again over the fate of Conde Nast’s business magazine Portfolio, and this time it’s not just embittered ex-staffers. The thin display of ads in this month’s issue with Starbucks’ Howard Schultz as cover art (32 ad pages, according to a spokeswoman) was shocking to many, even if it does reflect summer doldrums and a slowed economy. How long can it go on this way? Meanwhile, the mood in editorial is far from warm and fuzzy. The latest top editor to leave is photo editor Lisa Berman, who has just abandoned the glamorous glossy for the more workaday environs of Entertainment Weekly. "I don’t know a single writer or editor there who wouldn’t rather be working somewhere else," came the harsh view from inside the Conde Nast building. Calls around the Times Square tower kick up a surprising amount of animosity toward editor Joanne Lipman, with comments like "confusion" and "identity crisis" among the kinder remarks. (We try to avoid ad hominems here at Waxword.)
There’s another thing. Here in Hollywood, I keep hearing that Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter has prevailed on his coterie of power broker friends – among them Brian Grazer, Jim Wiatt, Brad Grey – to keep Portfolio from any big Hollywood ‘gets.’ Carter denies it. But it is notable that Portfolio has yet to weigh in with any major Hollywood pieces that might move magazines off the stand. Where’s the Will Smith, mogul-in-the-making story? Or the Judd-Apatow-Comedy-Business-Genius cover? (Barry Diller was a ‘get,’ but at this stage, he’s more Internet than Hollywood.)
A spokeswoman for Portfolio, Perri Dorset, said "We’ve not found" any evidence of Carter blocking and tackling. "Hollywood is a big place. We’ll continue to cover it aggressively," she said. Asked about it, Carter responded: "Not only have I never spoken to anyone in Hollywood about Portfolio, I wish the magazine well and think it gets better with every issue." That’s nice, but it’s not what I’m hearing sotto voce. Graydon is "definitely blocking them in Hollywood," said one former Portfolio editor who asked not to be identified. Lead Hollywood correspondent Amy Wallace is "being blacklisted a little bit." Wallace, who has done major takeouts on financier Ryan Kavanaugh and lawyer/Superman expert Marc Toberoff, declined to comment.