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Memo Pad: Talk About Interview... 'Last Emperor' Buzz...

Some freelance writers who contributed to Interview say e-mails and phone calls have gone unanswered regarding payment.

TALK ABOUT INTERVIEW: Interview magazine isn’t making many friends with its freelancers these days. Some writers that have contributed to the pages of the magazine since Glenn O’Brien and Fabien Baron took over as co-editorial directors in February 2008 (Baron left in January) say e-mails and phone calls have gone unanswered regarding payment. Under a headline “Topic: Interview Magazine = “not paying right now,” on Mediabistro.com, one commenter said: “As of today [Feb. 11], I checked my invoice status with them and was told ‘funds are tight’ and that all the writers will be paid, but ‘not right now.’” A similar string of comments from others follow, the most recent posted as of Monday. Sources close to the title add Baron and Karl Templer, former creative director, to the list of the unpaid, although a spokeswoman firmly denied the speculation. Baron declined to comment and Templer did not return calls.

Baron was succeeded by the M/M (Paris) as creative directors, and they’ve already started work at the title, while Templer, who also left in January, was succeeded by Joe McKenna, who was named fashion director. McKenna will be on the masthead as of the June issue, the spokeswoman said.

There is also widespread talk in publishing and art circles that Peter Brant of Brant Publications — which publishes Interview as well as Art in America and The Magazine Antiques — has sought to make deals with New York galleries in exchange for credit. Several sources said Brant has asked galleries for discounts on artworks in exchange for ad pages in Interview. But, as one source pointed out, “Nobody is buying art these days, so the galleries are probably pleased. Even with a discount they’re still making a profit on a sale.”

The Brant Publications spokeswoman told WWD that no trade deals with any advertisers have been made, adding the company does not discuss any contracts.

Meanwhile, in what could be taken as a bit of good news for those who have gone unpaid: Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Brant recently sold a 1976 Andy Warhol painting of a cocker spaniel, for $360,000. — Amy Wicks




A RECORD, SORT OF: Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary “Valentino: The Last Emperor” has been enjoying a successful run since opening at New York’s Film Forum on March 18: it’s grossed $39,106 so far, landing it around the top of Film Forum’s premieres, and it’s being touted as the highest-grossing documentary debut of 2009 (which, three months into the year, might not be as grandiose a benchmark as it sounds.)

It’s hard to remember another documentary that has benefited from such a fortuitous confluence of high-level buzz and mass-market coverage. Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti are at leisure to promote it full time on everything from The Oprah Winfrey Show to Charlie Rose, while Tyrnauer’s boss at Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter, did his part for the movie with the first dinner party at his second restaurant, Monkey Bar. Guests included Diane von Furstenberg, Barry Diller and Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera. The film’s seven-month, 10-festival run provided photo ops of endless premieres studded with Valentino’s starlet devotees. Tyrnauer has also left no niche unexplored: through his Web site, he’s conducting a Most Fashionable Pug contest — Valentino’s six pugs provide comic relief in the film — judged by the designer himself.

The film opens in Chicago on March 27, and in San Francisco and Los Angeles April 3, the latter with a suitably lavish opening party. As for everywhere else, a spokeswoman said, “Plans are definitely in the works to bring the movie to additional markets but specifics are still forthcoming.” — Irin Carmon