Tina Brown's New Catch Phrase: 'B to the W!'

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We always like a good Tina Brown profile, mostly because we never know what crackling little quotes she'll give to her interviewer. The New York Times magazine's latest profile doesn't disappoint: Tina talks some more about Talk, almost-wistfully reappraises her decadent New Yorker and Vanity Fair years, discovers that she has a "Japanese correspondent" at Newsweek, and explains how "balls to the wall" became a bandied-about phrase in the office.

Moments that interested us in the profile:

  • On Newsweek's global reach - "What I love about Newsweek, it's truly a global magazine," Brown continued. "People keep showing up--we discovered we have a Japanese correspondent! That’s kind of thrilling--there is a Japanese Newsweek, and there’s a very good Polish Newsweek..."
  • On the Bret Easton Ellis-Charlie Sheen Newsweek essay that confused everyone - "It's rollicking stuff, isn't it?" she said. "It's fun to get all these new writers in. I hope we can retain the interest. As you know, the window of interest today slams shut pretty fast."
  • On positioning the Newsweek brand between luxury items and Libya coverage:  "There's a great kind of high-low, newsy, sexy thing that the European news magazines have. ...They have this great sort of slightly freewheeling pagination, where they go from a great sexy picture of an expensive watch to Libya or something. So I'd like to have more of that feeling in Newsweek."
  • On appreciating her ill-fated Talk magazine as she started at Newsweek - "Talk was a very good magazine, it really was...And I only realized how really good it was when I was preparing for Newsweek ... [Talk] was just the wrong setup. Miramax wasn't a publishing company, and Hearst was the wrong publisher. Actually I think it would have worked better as a weekly. And now I have a weekly."
  • On 'balls to the wall' commitment to Newsweek : "Kathy O'Hearn from CNN has come over to develop our Web TV. Kathy says, 'Don't come here unless you're balls to the wall!' So now we call it 'B to the W!' We say, 'Is he B to the W?' Because otherwise someone comes in and says, 'Well, two days a week I have to teach at N.Y.U. . . .' And we say, 'Not B to the W!'"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.