You Won’t Catch Tina Brown Saying ‘Balls’


So you wanna work for the Daily Beast, do ya kid? Well you better be willing to put your balls to the proverbial wall, but just don’t say the word “balls” when you talk about it, okay?

Over the weekend the New York Times Magazine published a lengthy — sometimes hilarious in its ridiculousness — profile of Daily Beast honcho Tina Brown. Of the many passages in the piece about the former Vanity Fair and New Yorker editor that almost made me spit coffee all over the place was this one on how she perceives it is to work for her.

Brown drives her staff at warp speed. “I’m up from 5 a.m., going online and sending BlackBerry messages out from then until I go to bed,” she said. “People get used to that. I like to have a structure of things that are in place, and then I constantly disrupt it with a new thing, an idea that’s just in the air.

“I’m not very good with people who aren’t committed,” she continued. “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!’ ”

Another bit of hilariousness came in the chunk of the article describing a cocktail party Brown threw at her New York apartment. Apparently, the whole chic affair was winding down when frequent Charlie Rose guest Bernard-Henri Lévy showed up with his catsuit-wearing piece on the side and announced that he’d just convinced France to go to war with Libya.

Suddenly the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy wafted in, dressed in black and trailing a cloud of cologne and his mistress, Daphne Guinness, who was wearing a revealing black cat suit and heelless Alexander McQueen platform shoes. Lévy was fresh from Paris, where, he proceeded to tell Brown and a few stragglers, he had just single-handedly persuaded his old friend President Nicolas Sarkozy to go to war against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya. (A few days later, Steven Erlanger of The New York Times reported that this had, improbably enough, been the case.)

Lévy drained a glass of red wine and took off into the night with Guinness. Brown looked happy for the first time all evening.

This is the world Tina Brown lives in, y’all.

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