The editors' blog
~ Posted by Robert Butler, November 12th 2013
Last night was the British Society of Magazine Editors' Awards, and this magazine was shortlisted for two of the 26 categories, which ranged from the straightforward "Scoop of the Year" and "Launch of the Year" to the almost unintelligible "Branded Content—Business" and "Brand-Building Initiative of the Year". As 500 guests filled the Grand Ballroom of the London Hilton—itself the size of a football field—the screens onstage displayed the covers of hundreds of magazines. A newcomer might be forgiven for imagining this was boom time for mags, but once people had found their seats and explored their goodie bag—copy of "Nigellissima", Caorunn gin miniature, Calvin Klein aftershave—Diane Kenwood, editor of Woman's Weekly, introduced the evening by saying that the industry had had "its toughest year ever". Shrinking circulations, digital challenges—the idea of the magazine itself was changing. Over the next couple of hours, two phrases kept coming up in the judges' citations: "brand extensions" and "multi-platforms".read more »
~ Posted by Simon Willis, November 7th 2013
Last night Georges Simenon's son John—with his head clean-shaven, grey stubble, spectacles perched on the end of his nose and gravel in his voice—began a dinner at Soho House in London with a reading. It was the first paragraph of the book that introduced Jules Maigret, French fiction's most famous detective, to the French reader. "Le commissaire Maigret, de la première Brigade Mobile, leva la tête," he began, while the other nine of us around the table followed a new translation. Those were the first words of what turned out to be a series of 75 novels about Maigret, and every month for the next 75 months, Penguin—who were hosting the dinner—will publish them one-by-one. They start today with "Pietr the Latvian", translated by David Bellos, originally published in French in 1931. It was the beginning of the detective's 40-year career, and the first book that Simenon (above) published in his own name.read more »
~ Posted by Ryan Gilbey, November 5th 2013
As part of the research for my Intelligent Life story about video-blogging, or "vlogging", I hurled myself this year into the digital maelstrom—if "hurled" is not too violent a verb to describe the act of shooting several videos in my living room then uploading them onto YouTube. The only rule of vlogging appears to be: "Those who can, do. Those who can’t, also do".read more »
~ Posted by Nicholas Barber, October 31st 2013
Is it possible for a Hollywood star to be too attractive? You wouldn’t think so. Being attractive is what we pay them for, after all. But if they’re playing characters who are meant to be no different from the rest of us, their preternaturally good looks can sometimes be an issue. Case in point: "Drinking Buddies", a new indie comedy directed by Joe Swanberg. The star of the film, Olivia Wilde, plays an administrator in a craft brewery. She's the only woman on the staff, and the only person there who doesn’t sport a beard and a baseball cap. And yet, in these grungey surroundings, none of her colleagues comments that with her willowy figure, angular face and almond eyes, she could make a lot more money as a model than a brewer.read more »
~ Posted by Isabel Lloyd, October 28th 2013
"My friend Lou Reed came to the end of his song," Salman Rushdie wrote to his 640,000 Twitter followers. "So very sad. But hey, Lou, you'll always take a walk on the wild side. Always a perfect day." To make one clunking play on a song title may be forgiven; to make two in one tweet is tiresome. And to ignore the collected works of the Velvet Underground? That’s just criminal.read more »
~ Posted by Hazel Sheffield, October 25th 2013
Something extraordinary is going to happen in the British charts this weekend. A 16-year-old New Zealander with the stage name Lorde (real name Ella Yelich-O'Connor) is on her way from absolute obscurity to number one. In America, Lorde’s single "Royals" has already toppled Miley Cyrus from the top spot, clung on there for three weeks, and this weekend will pose a serious challenge to the rap-music monolith Eminem. The New York Times reports that "Royals" has been played more times on American pop radio last week than Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. At the time of writing, it has already outsold its nearest competitor for Britain's number one, a single by the X Factor winner James Arthur, by 7,000 copies.read more »
~ Posted by Nicholas Barber, October 24th 2013
It’s the end of an era. After 15 years, Chris Tarrant is finally retiring as the host of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?", and ITV has no plans to continue the format without him. The days of Phoning A Friend and giving a Final Answer are over. But whether the programme's influence will die along with it is another matter.read more »
~ Posted by Georgia Grimond, October 22nd 2013
Age, they say, is but a number—but of all the ages, which is the best to be? In our last Big Question, we asked six writers to choose their ideal time of life. Readers were asked to cast their vote online, either endorsing our writers’ choices or making their own. Their answer? Somewhere in the middle.
When the results came in, the biographer Michael Holroyd’s pitch—that life is best at 40—won the most votes (38%). When he was 40, he said, he was on his "gap year", succumbing to the pace of Irish life in Dublin, while researching his book about George Bernard Shaw. Robert Guest, United States editor of The Economist, chose his gap year too. When he was 18, he was working dead-end jobs, embarking on adventures and relishing his own immortality. In our poll, 20% of voters were equally misty-eyed for that stage. The novelist Penelope Lively, who is in her 80s, had more years to choose from than most. "Don't worry, you 40-somethings," she wrote, "the best is yet to be." In her view it's 55, and 9% of readers agreed.read more »
~ Posted by Charlie McCann, October 21st 2013
The editors at Penguin must have a keen sense of the ridiculous. Last week they published Morrissey's "Autobiography" under their sober black "classic" imprint. This is a list that also boasts titles by Homer, Virgil, Montaigne, Melville and Dostoevsky.
Morrissey is not without a sense of hyperbole either. After dozens of pages chronicling his unhappy youth—much of it spent in his bedroom spinning records and wondering how he might become an artist—he writes,
In what could be termed sheer panic I buy a drum kit, and suddenly I am in mortal danger of doing something productive.
This engaging account of Morrissey’s boyhood in "knife-plunging Manchester" gradually turns, as he becomes more productive, into a litany of complaints and tour-dates.read more »
- Nicholas Barber, October 18th 2013 There are 235 feature films being shown over 12 days at the London Film Festival, so even if you catch only a fraction of them, it can still sometimes be hard to remember which was which. For me, the most confusing afternoon came when I saw "The Zero Theorem" followed by "The Double", and ended up feeling almost as disorientated as the characters I’d just been watching. Both films are quirky, melancholic comedies. They’re both set in unspecified, vaguely Eastern European cities which mix modern technology with Bakelite antiques. They’re both about alienated computer programmers with remote, all-powerful bosses. In general, they’re both very Terry Gilliam-ish. read more »