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GRAYDON FOR AMBASSADOR?: If the White House needs an editor in chief to be an ambassador, Graydon Carter is game. Not to the U.K., obviously, nor to France.
“Antigua. That’s what I want,” Carter said Monday at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He’d also be amenable to a posting in his native Canada. “I still love hockey.”
Carter has a few ground rules: “I raise no money, but I’m open to offers.”
Gay Talese thinks Carter would be an exemplary ambassador. He already has the skills. “In restaurants, you see him greeting people, and the way he moves around,” Talese said.
Carter has also already gotten adept at handling difficult regimes, like Creative Artists Agency and William Morris Endeavor, through his annual Oscar party.
Talese pointed out there’s precedent for an editor joining the diplomatic corps. Henry Grunwald, who was Time Inc.’s editor in chief through the Eighties, was appointed ambassador to Austria by Ronald Reagan. Plus, wouldn’t it be wonderful to put some of Carter’s restaurants under government control?
“The Waverly Inn could be the residence of the ambassador to Canada very easily,” Talese said.
Anna Wintour may be getting the headlines now — on Monday, Donald Trump brought up (again) the ambassador rumors surrounding the Vogue editor in chief, on “Fox & Friends” — but consider the possibilities of a Carter ambassadorship. Fran Lebowitz would get to attend more state dinners, and that is just good foreign policy. And the parties would be off the Richter scale. At the Vanity Fair- and Ralph Lauren-hosted screening of “Downton Abbey” at the MoMA on Monday, Carter had roped in Eric Schmidt, Jill Abramson, Tom Brokaw, Steve Kroft, several “Downton” cast members, including Michelle Dockery, and a large part of the Lauren clan.
Even a legendary actress perhaps made an appearance. In the middle of a Q&A with the cast, a cockroach turned up onstage. When PBS’s Rebecca Eaton stepped on it, Jim Carter, who plays a butler on the show, was aghast. “That might have been Shirley MacLaine,” he said. (MacLaine is guest-starring in the third season.)
However tantalizing the possibility of diplomat Carter, his chances are slim. The White House only considers editors who’ve raised a bundle for it, and according to campaign-finance records, Carter contributed nothing. Plus, he admits he’s only part Canadian.
Not that Carter is all that interested anyway. In the past year, there has been chatter that he’s been on autopilot — yet another oral history? Marilyn Monroe on the cover again? And Vanity Fair, like others, has taken a beating on the newsstand, falling 18.8 percent in the first half of the year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. But he says he’s jazzed about 2013, which he’s kicked off in style with a comedy issue guest-edited by Judd Apatow that was a logistical challenge to pull together, involving scores of portraits with a murderers’ row of comedy legends and convincing the reclusive Elaine May to sit for an interview. Carter said the idea for a comedy issue came from Apatow, who had a new movie to promote. “I thought, you know, it’s not the worst idea. Especially when we drew up a list of the major people in comedy right now. It was an enormous list,” he said.
Carter wants to do another guest-edited issue next year, though he declined to name the lucky guy who’ll get the assignment.
“He didn’t want to do it immediately, but I’m going to work on him. You need someone with a world view. Bono had a world view. Tom Ford had a world view. And this person has a world view,” he said.