"This further blurs the line between reporting and entertainment," he said. "We're already seeing these huge scandals with CNN [retracting a story] and infotainment shows on TV. It can affect what stories you choose to write about as a journalist and how you treat them if you're always thinking about the potential movie deal."
James Toback, a journalist turned screenwriter ("Bugsy") and director ("Two Girls and a Guy"), agreed.
"The interesting question this whole thing raises is the ongoing symbiotic nature of journalism, publicity and movie-making. They're all under the same umbrella now, and Harvey [Weinstein] is the master of co-opting journalism and journalists," he said. Toback said that when Kurt Andersen was dumped from the editorship of New York magazine in 1996, one widely reported theory about the reason behind his firing was that he had been discovered zipping around in the Miramax jet shortly before putting actress Gwyneth Paltrow--a Miramax favorite--on the magazine's cover.
Andersen said Toback, who has disliked Andersen ever since he presided over an unflattering Spy magazine piece on Toback, was wrong. Andersen did take his family to Martha's Vineyard on Weinstein's jet, he said, but it did not lead to his ouster.
"Harvey said, 'Come on the jet.' I said, 'OK,' and we did. I regret this because to this day my children always compare a flight in coach to Harvey's jet. But it did not cause my firing," he said.
The movement between the publishing world and Hollywood has been brisk in recent years. Michael Lynton became chairman of Penguin Books in 1997 after spending three years as the president of Disney's Hollywood Pictures, and one of the first deals he inked was to publish books based on DreamWorks' upcoming movies.
The lines blur even further in the case of Judith Regan, the president of ReganBooks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Regan, who is known for shepherding the books of Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh and Kathie Lee Gifford into print, has sealed a movie production deal at 20th Century Fox, which, like HarperCollins, is owned by News Corp. And Regan also has hosted a talk show on the new Fox News Channel.
All this synergy, insiders warn, should not obscure the basic goal of all these enterprises: making money. And that, said David Thomson, Esquire's film writer and author of a well-respected biographical dictionary of film, is where Brown could face her biggest comeuppance.
"Anyone who has established themselves in one walk of life is likely to find very big problems when going to Hollywood, because Hollywood is a place and a culture and a business that likes to have its people from birth onwards," he said. Brown, he added, is not only trading in a relatively gentlemanly boss--publishing magnate S.I.Newhouse--for Miramax's inimitable Weinstein brothers, but also is "plunging into a world where the difference between failure and success is very, very stark."
"Working for the boys is not the same as working for Si," he said. "They're coarse and abrasive, and they want their results quicker and less equivocal. At the New Yorker, she changed the image but lost money. Bob and Harvey aren't going to mess around with losing money."
Media Odd Couple: New York and Hollywood are abuzz over the strange pairing of Brown and Weistein D1