Exiled Condé Editors: The Lost Years

deborah needleman and shalom harlow getty Exiled Condé Editors: The Lost YearsSo what happens to an editrix after Si Newhouse shuts down her magazine?

Dominique Browning wrote in The Times Magazine last weekend that her life went into a free fall after House & Garden was shuttered in 2007. She details how she spent much of her time in pajamas, how she thought about death, how she obsessed over eggs. She is turning her post-Condé tale into a book, which is due out in May. Meanwhile, Brandon Holley, who lost her editor in chief job when Jane folded three years ago, has landed at Yahoo, and riffed to The Times earlier this month about how the no-frills lifestyle on the Web isn’t much like life at 4 Times Square.   

So! We wondered how other victims of Mr. Newhouse’s golden machete were adapting to life after Condé. “It was definitely a tough experience,” said Pilar Guzman—the popular editor of the mom magazine Cookie, which folded in October—from her place in Park Slope. “I was the rookie who got to do it for five solid years without interruption. It was definitely rough having the rug pulled from under you.”

Ms. Guzman said she’s been concentrating her efforts on two pursuits: wrapping up a cookbook for Cookie and creating a Web site.

The Web site will be called momfilter.com, which she described as a lifestyle site for the modern mom. She’s looking for funding now, and is hoping for a launch date in the fall. She’s working on the site with Yolanda Edwards, another former Cookie editor.

She said she’s excited about the prospect of turning herself over to the Web, and said Cookie could have survived if Condé had invested significantly in the magazine’s Web site. “We had sort of a limited capability of what we could do online, as I’m sure you’re well aware,” she said.

And how has she taken to the transition from 4 Times Square to life at home in Park Slope? “I wasn’t Anna or Graydon, I rode the subway every day!” she said. “If you have your feet on the ground, then that fall from grace is not a fall from grace. It’s like a loss of any job.”

Deborah Needleman, the editor of Domino, which folded in January 2009, said she’s cooking up a Web site of her own with Ken Lerer, the chairman of the Huffington Post.
“It’s a commerce site—with a Domino-like sensibility—that makes it easy and pleasurable to decorate and shop for a home,” she wrote in an email.

(With all this talk about the Web, it’s also worth noting that Dana Goodyear, a writer for The New Yorker, is starting a Web venture with Jacob Lewis, the former managing editor of Portfolio.)

Ms. Needleman said she’s working on an illustrated decorating book with the artist Virginia Johnson for the Crown imprint Clarkson Potter, and she’s done some consulting work for media clients whom she’d rather not name (we’ve heard that she’s been doing some work helping out The Wall Street Journal). Her name has also been floated—by WWD—as a potential nominee to replace Stefano Tonchi as the editor of The Times’ T Magazine.

Joanne Lipman, the editor of Portfolio, lost her magazine nearly a year ago. And what has she been up to?

Ms. Lipman hasn’t landed on her feet yet, nor did she let on about any plans for a Web venture, but she’s made a few appearances on CNN’s Your Money and has written a pair of editorials for The Times, including one about women and the workplace. (The piece wasn’t much of a hit with some bloggers; Jezebel described it “as so ham-handed and contradictory, it read like a tutorial on How Not to Talk About Sexism.”)

Ms. Lipman emailed to say she’s turned down a few jobs and has taken to projects she’s found “interesting,” such as “advising one of the BusinessWeek bidders” and “advising news organizations on business coverage.” She wouldn’t elaborate.  

Ruth Reichl, who lost Gourmet last October, declined to comment for this story, but has been an active Twitterer, with daily food-and-drink-related updates!

During Tuesday’s monsoon, she tweeted, “Rain biblical. Scarlet glow of kimichi eggs. Potent tea, very black.”

(What’s with all this talk of eggs with these ex-Condé editors?)

Though PBS wants her to continue her show Gourmet’s Adventures With Ruth, there’s still no word on whether that’s actually coming back for a second season.

When we chatted with Ms. Reichl shortly after Gourmet folded, she said she had plans for a memoir about her years at Condé. “It’s a very rarefied world,” she said. “It was a world that most people—I had no idea that this particular world existed. I sort of think of it as ‘Ruthie in Wonderland.’ People are fascinated by the world. It’s a life that is probably coming to an end.”

Though Ms. Browning’s piece was light on the Condé Nast gossip, perhaps Ms. Reichl can fill the gap!

jkoblin@observer.com