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2009 June 8

Interview with the Vampires

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(NEW YORK) Is Glenn O'Brien actually leaving Interview? And if he did, would anyone be surprised? Since Peter Brant relaunched the magazine in January 2008, Interview has been plagued by a string of snafus, beginning with a kick-off party held in a construction zone and culminating with the January 2009 departures of co-editorial director Fabien Baron and publisher Alan Katz, and the botched hire of new publisher Samantha Fennell, who quit before she even started. Not to mention the endless complaints from the freelance community concerning unpaid bills and dishonored contracts.

Glenn O'Brien remains on board for now after having refurbished all of Brant's titles (including Art in America and The Magazine Antiques), but the real player in charge is neither him nor Peter Brant, who remains hunkered down in Europe, beleagured by an increasingly tawdry divorce from estranged wife Stephanie Seymour. According to several sources, Brant Publications' new president, Ryan Brant, 37-year-old son of Sandra and Peter, is now running the show.

Ryan Brant is a master of games, though not of the publishing kind. The company he founded in 1993, Take-Two Interactive, earned fame and (even more) fortune with the runaway success of the "Grand Theft Auto" franchise. Brant left the company in 2007 four months before he plead guilty to falsifying business records and paid over $7 million in penalties to the S.E.C.. The case, which was ultimately settled in April of this year, earned Brant five years probation. "The S.E.C. contended Mr. Brant and other former senior executives had 'fraudulently enriched' key employees by granting them stock options backdated to days of historically low closing prices," reported the New York Times.

In addition to orchestrating the ousting of publisher Alan Katz, insiders claim that Brant aims to reseat Fabien Baron at the top of the masthead. While Baron proved popular with advertisers, the shoots he commissioned were expensive, which is said to have caused excessive strain on the mag's bottom line. According to sources, the discussions with Brant have even led Baron to approach top talent about their interest in returning to Interview should he be renamed editorial director. 

For what it's worth, O'Brien has reasons to stick around. He has a good deal of personal investment in the project, and not only the equity he was promised. O'Brien's relationship with Interview began during his days as a member of Andy Warhol's Factory in the 1970s, when he penned a music column for the downtown bible. His first tenure as editor of Interview lasted from 1970-1973. Neither O'Brien nor Ryan Brant were immediately available for comment.




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