The Most Fractious Media Company In America

The Hollywood rumor about rivalry between two Condé Nast editors-passed along by former New York Times reporter, Sharon Waxman-sounds incredible. Why would Graydon Carter, the behemoth of Vanity Fair, bother to ice out his colleagues at Joanne Lipman's Portfolio?

After all, Vanity Fair's position in Hollywood-where the magazine throws the hottest Oscar night party and has its pick of Hollywood stars for cover shoots-is hardly threatened by a one-year-old and troubled business magazine. Vanity Fair and Portfolio are part of the same company, for chrissake; and both deny the story-all be it half-heartedly. But petty infighting at Si Newhouse's publishing group is always plausible.

Ever since Alex Liberman's tenure as editorial director of Condé Nast, the group has been a collection of rival territories managed only by pitting the barons against eachother.

Vogue's Anna Wintour was installed as creative director under Grace Mirabella, the legendary editor to whom she was the anointed successor. Wintour and Vanity Fair's Tina Brown-both kicky English imports-fought for the favor of Liberman and Newhouse, and over stories; Brown wrote up a lunch with Princess Diana that Wintour had arranged as a private affair, and later ran a nasty exposé of her former colleague's businessman boyfriend. And Tina Brown was so put out by when shifted to the New Yorker that she sabotaged her successor, Graydon Carter.

Writes Judy Bachrach in Tina And Harry Come To America: Graydon Carter arrived at Vanity Fair the following week and found-nothing. There was a backlog of stories that had been sitting in a kill pile, articles previously considered by Tina or her editors that were, for one reason or another, deemed unfit for the magazine. But aside from this cache, Carter was left with no immediate resources: there was no indication of what pieces might go into succeeding issues, no drawerful of ideas. Vanity Fair always planned moths ahead, even if those plans never materialized. "Nothing, nothing, nothing," was the description of what had been left behind.

So, yes, Waxman's story-that Graydon Carter has prevailed on Hollywood friends such as Brian Grazer, Jim Wiatt and Brad Grey to keep Portfolio from any big Hollywood gets-is entirely plausible. Portfolio's lead Hollywood correspondent Amy Wallace is "being blacklisted a little bit," a former editor tells Waxman. Wallace declined to comment, which means she probably confirmed the suspicion to her friend Waxman.