Who is Christina Hambley Brown? The entertainment and new world knows her as Tina Brown,(AKA) Lady Evans, is a journalist, magazine editor, columnist, talk-show host and author of The Diana Chronicles, a biography of Diana, Princess of Wales. Born a British citizen, she took United States citizenship in 2005 after emigrating in 1984 to edit Vanity Fair. Having been editor-in-chief of Tatler magazine at only 25 years of age, she rose to prominence in the American media industry as the editor of Vanity Fair from 1984 to 1992 and of The New Yorker from 1992 to 1998. In 2000 she was appointed CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for her services to overseas journalism, and in 2007 was inducted into the Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame. As an editor, she has also been honored with four George Polk Awards, five Overseas Press Club awards, and ten National Magazine Awards. In October 2008 she partnered Barry Diller, chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp to found and edit The Daily Beast. Two years later, in November 2010, The Daily Beast announced that it will merge with the American weekly news magazine Newsweek in a joint venture to form The Newsweek Daily Beast Company. Brown will serve as Editor-in-Chief of both publications.
Early lifeTina Brown was November 21, 1953 in Maidenhead, and she and her elder brother, Christopher Hambley Brown (who became a movie producer) grew up in Little Marlow, in Buckinghamshire, a Thames village in the countryside west of London. Her father, George Hambley Brown, was a prominent figure in the British film industry. He produced the first Agatha Christie films, starring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. His other films included The Chiltern Hundreds (1949); Hotel Sahara (1951), starring Yvonne De Carlo; Guns at Batasi (1964), starring Richard Attenborough and Mia Farrow. In 1939, he had an early marriage to the actress Maureen O'Hara; according to O'Hara, it was never consummated owing to her parents' intervention, and it was annulled. George later met and married Brown's mother, (1948), Bettina Iris Mary Kohr, who was an assistant to Laurence Olivier. In her later years, Bettina wrote for an English-language magazine for expatriates in Spain where she and her husband lived in retirement until moving to New York in the early eighties to be with their daughter and grandchildren.
SchoolIn Brown's own words she was considered "an extremely subversive influence" as a child, resulting in her expulsion from three boarding schools. Offences included organising a demonstration to protest against the school's policy of allowing a change of underwear only three times a week, referring to her headmistress' bosoms as "unidentified flying objects" in a journal entry, and writing a play about her school being blown up and a public bathroom being erected in its place.
UniversityBrown entered Oxford university at the age of 17. She studied at St. Anne's College, and graduated with a BA in English Literature. As an undergraduate, she wrote for Isis, the university's literary magazine, to which she contributed interviews with the columnist Auberon Waugh and the actor Dudley Moore. Brown's sharp, witty prose garnered her publication in the New Statesman while she was still an undergraduate at Oxford. Her friendship with Waugh served as a boost to her writing career, as he used his influence to get attention drawn to her ability. Later, she went on to date the writer Martin Amis. While still at Oxford, she won the Sunday Times National Student Drama Award for her one-act play Under the Bamboo Tree. A subsequent play, Happy Yellow, in 1977 was mounted at the London fringe Bush Theatre and later performed at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Early workAfter graduating, while doing freelance reporting, Brown was invited to write a weekly column by the literary humour magazine, Punch. These articles and her freelance contributions to The Sunday Times and The Sunday Telegraph earned her the Catherine Pakenham Award for the best journalist under 25. Some of the writings from this era formed part of her first collection Loose Talk, published by Michael Joseph.
In 1979 at the age of 25 Brown was invited to edit the tiny, almost extinct society magazine Tatler by its new owner, the Australian real estate millionaire Gary Bogard and transformed it into a modern glossy magazine with covers by celebrated photographers like Norman Parkinson, Helmut Newton, and David Bailey, and fashion by Michael Roberts. Tatler featured writers from Brown's eclectic circle including Julian Barnes, Dennis Potter, Auberon Waugh, Georgina Howell and Nicholas Coleridge (who today is the managing director of Conde Nast UK). Brown herself wrote in every issue, contributing irreverent surveys of the upper classes. She travelled through Scotland to portray the owners' stately homes. She also wrote short satirical profiles of eligible London bachelors under the pen-name Rosie Boot. Tatler led the coverage of the rise of Lady Di and became the go-to magazine for information about Diana's world. She joined NBC's Tom Brokaw in running commentary for The Today Show on the royal wedding. Tatler increased its sale from 10,000 to 40,000 and was named magazine of the year in the industry awards of 1978. In 1982 when S. I. ("Si") Newhouse Jr., owner of Condé Nast Publications, bought Tatler Brown resigned to become a full-time writer again. The break didn't last long and Tina was lured back to Conde Nast.
Vanity FairIn 1983 Brown was brought to New York by Newhouse to advise on Vanity Fair, a title that he had resurrected earlier that year. (Vanity Fair had previously ceased publication in 1936) Edited first by Richard Locke and then by Leo Lerman, it was dying with an unviable circulation of 200,000 and 12 pages of advertising. She stayed on as a contributing editor for a brief time, and then was named editor-in-chief on January 1, 1984. She recalls that upon taking over the magazine she found it to be "pretentious, humourless. It wasn't too clever, it was just dull."
The first contract writer she hired was not a writer but a movie producer whom she met at a dinner party hosted by the writer Marie Brenner. The producer told her he was going to California for the trial of the strangler of his daughter. As solace, Brown suggested for him to keep a diary and his report (headlined Justice) proved the launch of the long magazine career of Dominick Dunne
Early stories such as Justice and livelier covers brightened the prospects of the magazine. In addition, Brown signed up among others Marie Brenner, Gail Sheehy, Jesse Kornbluth, T.D. Allman, Lynn Herschberg, James Kaplan, Peter J. Boyer, John Richardson, James Atlas, Alex Shoumatoff and Ben Brantley. The magazine became a mix of celebrity and serious foreign and domestic reporting. Brown persuaded the novelist William Styron to write about his depression under the title Darkness Visible, which subsequently became a best-selling nonfiction book. At the same time Brown formed fruitful relationships with photographers Annie Leibovitz, Harry Benson, Herb Ritts, and Helmut Newton. Annie Liebovitz's portrayal of Jerry Hall, Diane Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg and others came to define Vanity Fair. Its most famous cover was August 1991's of a naked and pregnant Demi Moore.
Three stories put Vanity Fair on the map: Harry Benson's cover shoot of Ronald and Nancy Reagan dancing in the White House; Helmut Newton's notorious portrait of accused murderer Claus von Bulow in his leathers with his mistress Andrea Reynolds with reporting by Dominick Dunne, and Brown's own cover story on Princess Diana in October 1985 entitled The Mouse that Roared. It broke the news of the fracture in the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales. These three stories from June to October 1985 saved the magazine after a year when rumors were rife that it was to be folded into The New Yorker just acquired by S.I. Newhouse.
Thereafter Vanity Fair became a tremendous editorial and commercial success. Sales rose from 200,000 to 1.2 million. In 1988 she was named Magazine Editor of the Year by Advertising Age magazine. Advertising topped 1,440 pages in 1991 and with circulation revenues, especially from profitable single copy sales at $20 million, selling some 55 percent of copies on the newsstand, well above the industry average sell through of 42 percent. Despite this success, occasional references later appeared to Vanity Fair losing money. Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer who suggested as much in his book Power: Why Some People Have It - And Others Don’t was quickly rebutted by Bernard Leser, president of Conde Nast USA during Brown’s tenure. In a letter to the editor of the Evening Standard, Leser stated Pfeffer’s claim was “absolutely false” and affirmed that they had indeed earned “a very healthy profit.”  Leo Scullin, an independent magazine consultant, called it a "successful launch of a franchise." Under Brown's editorship Vanity Fair won four National Magazine Awards, including a 1989 award for General Excellence.
One of her editorial decisions was in October 1990, two months after the first Gulf War had started, when she removed a picture of Marla Maples (a blonde) from the cover and replaced it with a photograph of Cher. The reason for her last minute decision, she told the Washington Post, was that "In light of the gulf crisis, we thought a brunette was more appropriate."
The New YorkerIn 1992, Brown accepted the company's invitation to become editor of The New Yorker, the fourth in its 73 year history and the first female to hold the position having been preceded by Harold Ross, William Shawn and Robert Gottlieb. She has related in speeches that before taking over, she immersed herself in vintage New Yorkers, reading the issues produced by founding editor Harold Ross. "There was an irreverence, a lightness of touch as well as a literary voice that had been obscured in later years when the magazine became more celebrated and stuffy." She added: "Rekindling that DNA became my passion."
Anxieties that Brown might change the identity of The New Yorker as a cultural institution prompted a number of resignations. Of them George Trow, who had been with the magazine for almost three decades, accused Brown of "kissing the ass of celebrity" in his resignation letter. (To which Brown reportedly replied "I am distraught at your defection but since you never actually write anything I should say I am notionally distraught.") The departing Jamaica Kincaid described Brown as "a bully" and "Stalin in high heels."
But Brown had the support of some New Yorker stalwarts including John Updike, Roger Angell, Brendan Gill, Lillian Ross, Calvin Tomkins, Janet Malcolm, Harold Brodkey and Philip Hamburger and newer staffers like Adam Gopnik and Nancy Franklin. During her editorship she let 79 go and engaged 50 new writers and editors including most of whom remain to this day: David Remnick (whom she nominated as her successor), Malcolm Gladwell, Anthony Lane, Jane Mayer, Jeffrey Toobin, Hendrik Hertzberg, Simon Schama, Lawrence Wright, Connie Bruck, John Lahr and editors Pamela McCarthy and Dorothy Wickenden. Brown introduced the concept of special double issues such as New Yorker's first annual fiction issue and the Holiday Season cartoon issue. She also cooperated with Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates to devote a whole issue to Black in America.
Brown broke the magazine's long standing taboo against treating photography seriously when in 1992 she invited Richard Avedon to be its first staff photographer. She also approved of controversial covers from a new crop of artists, including Edward Sorel's October 1992 cover that had people buzzing about the meaning of a punk rock passenger sprawled in the backseat of an elegant horse-drawn carriage: was it Brown's self mocking riposte to fears she would downgrade the magazine? A year later a national controversy was provoked by her publication of Art Spiegelman's Valentine's Day cover of a Jewish man and a black woman in an embracing kiss, a comment on the mounting racial tensions between blacks and the ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York.
During Brown's tenure, the magazine was honored with 4 George Polk Awards, 5 Overseas Press Club Awards, and 10 National Magazine Awards, including a 1995 award for General Excellence, the first in the magazine's history. Newsstand sales rose 145 percent The New Yorker's circulation increased to 807,935 for the second half of 1997 up from 658,916 during the corresponding period in 1992. Critics maintained it was hemorrhaging money. Newhouse remained supportive. At the start he said, viewing the magazine under Brown as a start-up (which routinely lose money), "It was practically a new magazine. She added topicality, photography, color. She did what we would have done if we invented the New Yorker from scratch. To do all that was costly. We knew it would be." Under Brown its economic fortunes improved every year. In 1995 losses were about $17 million, in 1996 $14 million, by 1997 they'd been cut back to $11 million.
In 1998, Brown resigned from the New Yorker following an invitation from Harvey and Bob Weinstein of Miramax Films (then owned by the Disney Company) to be the chairman in a new multi-media company they intended to start with a new magazine, a book company and a television show. The Hearst company came in as partners with Miramax.
Tina Brown next created Talk magazine, a monthly glossy, and appointed Jonathan Burnham and Susan Mercandetti to manage Talk Books. The magazine was due to be launched during a party at the Brooklyn Navy yard in New York City but was banned by the mayor Rudy Giuliani, who did not feel it was an appropriate use of the site. The star-studded event mixing political leaders, writers and Hollywood, was then moved to Liberty Island, where on August 2, 1999 more than 800 guests - including Madonna, Salman Rushdie, Demi Moore and George Plimpton- arrived by barge for a picnic dinner at the feet of the Statue of Liberty under thousands of Japanese lanterns and a Grucci fireworks display. An interview with Hillary Clinton in its very first issue caused an immediate political sensation when she claimed that the abuse her husband suffered as a child led to his adult philandering. Despite having achieved a circulation of 670,000 Talk magazine's publication was abruptly halted in January 2002 in the wake of the advertising recession following the September 11, 2001 attacks and the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center. It was Brown's first very public failure but she had no regrets about embarking on the project. "My reputation rests on four magazines - three great successes, one that was a great experiment. I don't feel in any way let down. No big career doesn't have one flame out in it and there's nobody more boring than the undefeated."
Talk Miramax Books flourished as a boutique publishing house until it was detached from Miramax in 2005 and made part of Hyperion at Disney. Out of 42 books published during Brown's time, 11 have appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List including Leadership by Rudy Giuliani, Leap of Faith by Queen Noor of Jordan and Madam Secretary by Madeline Albright.
Topic ABrown went on to host a series of specials for CNBC. The network followed up by signing her to host a weekly talk show of politics and culture titled Topic [A] With Tina Brown, which debuted on May 4, 2003. The program welcomed guests ranging from political figures, such as the then Prime Minister of the UK, Tony Blair, and Senator John McCain, to celebrities, such as George Clooney and Annette Bening. Topic A struggled to find an audience on Sunday nights airing after a day of infomercials. It averaged 75,000 viewers in 2005, about the same as The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch (79,000) and John McEnroe's McEnroe (75,000.) On being offered a lucrative deal with tight deadlines to write a book about Princess Diana, Brown resigned, airing her last Topic A interviews on May 29, 2005.
The Diana ChroniclesBrown's biography of Princess Diana, was published just before the 10th anniversary of her death in June 2007. The Diana Chronicles went straight to the top of the New York Times bestseller list for hardback nonfiction, with two weeks in the number one position. It was received well: John Lanchester in The New Yorker wrote
The Daily BeastOn October 6, 2008 Brown had teamed up with Barry Diller to launch The Daily Beast, an online news magazine that mixes original journalism with news aggregation. The website's name comes from the fictional newspaper in Evelyn Waugh's 1938 novel Scoop.
The Daily Beast had an immediate impact with an early sensation when Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley, Jr., chose The Daily Beast rather than the magazine his father founded (National Review), to announce he could not support the republican candidate in the 2008 presidential election: "Sorry, Dad, I'm voting for Obama." Early recognition of The Daily Beast came in a series of awards: Online Journalism Award 2009 for Online Commentary/Blogging, Christopher Buckley; OMMA Awards 2009 Winner - Politics; Winner - News; MinOnline Top 21 Social Media Superstars 2009 for Tina Brown; MinOnline 2010 Best of the Web Awards: New Site (co-winner); Webby Award nominations for Best Practices and Best News 2009
In August 2010, Time Magazine's review of the 50 Best Websites of 2010 named The Daily Beast among the top five news and information sites. (The Onion at 16, The Guardian at 17, The Daily Beast at 18, National Geographic at 19, and WikiLeaks at 20)
In a joint venture with Perseus Book Group, The Daily Beast formed a new imprint, Beast Books, that focuses on publishing timely titles of no more than 50,000 words by Daily Beast writers - first as e-books, and then as paperbacks in as little as four months. The first Beast Book was entitled Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America by John P. Avlon.
Partnering with Diane von Furstenberg, Vital Voices and the UN Foundation in 2010, The Daily Beast brought some of the world's most inspiring female leaders together at the Hudson Theatre in New York City for the first annual Women in the World Summit. The mission of the three-day summit was to focus on the global challenges facing women, from equal rights and education, to human slavery, literacy and the power of the media and technology to affect change in women's lives. Attendees included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep, Leymah Gbowee, Sunitha Krishnan, Madeleine Albright, Edna Adan Ismail, Queen Rania of Jordan, Cherie Blair and Valerie Jarrett.
On November 12, 2010 The Daily Beast and Newsweek announced that they would merge their operations in a joint venture to be owned equally by Sidney Harman and IAC/InterActiveCorp. The new entity is to be called The Newsweek Daily Beast Company with Tina Brown as Editor-in-Chief and Stephen Colvin as CEO.