Commentary

Interview

Recently, at a screening of the Andy Warhol documentary that ran last week on PBS, Bob Colacello, Andy's sidekick (and editor of Interview magazine back in the day) was asked ''Who is the Edie Sedgwick of our time?'' ''Paris Hilton! Andy would have loved her,'' he told a reporter from New York magazine. ''He would say, 'But why do you hate her? She's so fabulous! We've got to put her on the cover of Interview every month!' I would scream, ''I'm not putting Paris on the cover one more time!'''

As it turns out, Andy was so preternaturally ahead of his time in his visceral understanding of celebrity culture that even his prediction, (''in the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes'') has had its 15 minutes.

And maybe he's right about always having Paris. Any photo of the sorely overexposed brand-building heiress on the oversized magazine's cover would certainly have seemed more iconic (or, okay, HOT) than the odd, messy crew cobbled together for no discernible reason as cover celebs for this October issue. Ethan Hawke, Shia LaBeouf and Keith Urban wear T-shirts and jeans, while the women, Alicia Keys, Rachel Weisz, and Catalina Sandrino Moreno, sport long, shiny, sexy red evening gowns.

Why? And why that combination of people? (And six of them, at that?) What's their connection? Even though the picture was taken by famed fashion photographer Albert Watson, there's something ugly and unsettling about the graphics and the grouping, from the bright red Interview logo slapped on behind them to poor Shia La Beouf's head, floating somewhere over Keith Urban's shoulders. Ingrid Sischy's Letter from the Editor, (on page 120) does little to explain the choice, other than they are all grouped under the motto of the issue, ''The Times They Are a Changing,'' taken from Bob Dylan's famous 1964 song. Huh?

Of course, when Andy started the magazine as part of his empire in 1969, it was filled with celeb interviews that cried out for editing. Those pages were the editorial equivalent of his films that showed hours of someone sleeping or smoking a cigar. You kind of get bored by the second puff.

And that's pretty much the case with the interviews in this issue, as well. As earnest as Edward Norton is in interviewing New York attorney general and would be-governor Eliot Spitzer, the candidate is not all that interesting. What would seem to be a great combo on paper--Gladys Knight interviewing Alicia Keys--is mostly, as these interviews always tend to be, mutual appreciation copy. On the thematic note of the times a changin' issue, Keys does say ''I dream about speaking in big forums about issues that need to be spoken about.'' Yawn.

Elton John's husband, David Furnish, is a contributing editor, and Elton himself is all over the issue. He interviews Keith Urban, who, perhaps by dint of just having married Nicole Kidman, seems to be channeling Tom Cruise's robospeak. In the course of the interview, Urban, the man with the great highlights in his hair, uses the word ''extraordinary'' six times.

On the other hand, the review section, including ''Elton's tip sheet'' music picks, and movie reviews, is always good.

But you have to give the editors props for prescience in the interview with Dallas Cowboys' wide receiver Terrell Owens, who's been all over the news in the past few days for an alleged suicide attempt. The last question Dave Hollander asks him, (put, for some reason, in the extremely creepy third person), is ''Is Terrell Owens happy?" His answer speaks volumes: ''At this point, honestly, I'm not as happy as I'd like to be. I'll just leave it at that."

Peter Brant bought the magazine in 1989 from the Warhol estate, and as explained on the Web site, continues with a similar formula to this day--30 percent features/70 percent glossy advertising. The first 33 pages of the issue is composed of fashion ads, and a lot of them are great (woman lying on floor looking up at a Gucci boot the size of Godzilla, for example.) So are the photos. So maybe, in the end, Andy would be pleased. After all, another of his famous dicta was "I never read. I just look at pictures.''

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