Dedicated editor-in-chief’s brilliant career goes into a tailspin after a flamboyant celebrity takes over her magazine, a plot that mirrors the litigious saga of Rosie (i.e., O’Donnell) magazine, to which former McCall’s editor Koslow bore witness.
Magnolia Gold might have been born Maggie Goldfarb in Fargo, N.D., but years in the magazine industry have polished her into an elegant Manhattanite who welcomes every day as chief tastemaker for Lady magazine. Sure, the somewhat staid women’s title could use a redesign, and that is exactly what Magnolia has planned when the word comes down from corporate that her beloved Lady is being transformed into Bebe, after popular, opinionated talk-show host Bebe Blake. Never mind that plus-sized, foulmouthed Bebe knows nothing about magazines, her addition is assumed to be an opportunity for the company to “mint money” and Magnolia is summarily demoted to a smaller office where she is called upon to execute Bebe’s vision, even if that includes an NRA-friendly cover shot that alienates the readership. The capricious Bebe is an unprofessional nightmare who shows up drunk to her own launch party and at one point tries to seduce a young male intern, but she is also capable of big-hearted surprise gestures, such as when she “gives” British actor Hugh Grant to Magnolia for her birthday. And as difficult as Magnolia’s position is, it is her oily CEO Jock Flanagan who really gives her trouble—ultimately firing her after she rejects his adulterous advances. Our unemployed heroine is then left to ponder her future as she fights for money owed her by her former corporate overlords, while simultaneously navigating her way through the tricky waters of dating. Perched on the sidelines, she then has a perfect view of the bittersweet dissolution of Lady/Bebe, and is forced to choose between the lesser of two evils when both Jock and Bebe call on her to testify in competing lawsuits against each other. Koslow’s zippy prose ably captures the manic intensity and not-always-glamorous world of New York magazines—even if classy Magnolia and her so-so love life are a bit of a snooze. Far more intriguing is the flawed maverick Bebe.
Breezy glimpse into the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of modern celebrity culture and the women’s-magazine business.