- The Washington Times - Friday, September 17, 2004

Fall always seems to be the season when everything happens in a very big way.

It’s back to school, new looks in fashion, the release of big new movies and TV shows. Of course, there’s the biggest happening of all every four years — the presidential race and November election.

Needless to say, these seasonal events are prime material for the media, especially magazines. The September issue of Vanity Fair, for instance, manages to encompass just about every one of those seasonal topics in its weighty 370 pages. Actor Jude Law, who graces the cover, is beaming — and for good reason. The English gent is starring in six big films slated for release this weekend through the end of December.

By now, most faithful readers of the glossy monthly realize that longtime editor Graydon Carter is passionately opposed to the current Republican administration, so no one will be surprised by the feature “Special Investigation” on “The Path to Florida: What Really Happened in the 2000 Election and What’s Going Down Right Now!”

Three of the magazine’s contributing editors — Evgenia Peretz, Michael Shnayerson and David Margolick — carried out the investigation. Mr. Margolick also undertook the task of going behind the scenes and talking with roughly a quarter of the 35 clerks to the U.S. Supreme Court judges.

One of the clerks is quoted as saying, “We feel that something illegitimate was done with the Court’s power, and such an extraordinary situation justifies breaking an obligation we’d otherwise honor.”

Elsewhere, two Vanity Fair regulars sound off against President Bush and one of his Cabinet members: James Wolcott vents on Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and Michael Wolff offers his views in “What If Bush Wins?” (“Best thing to happen to the hard-core left since the ‘60s,” Mr. Wolff writes).

Politics and previews notwithstanding, one of the best reasons for picking up this issue is the 10th-anniversary listing of the new establishment, the top 50 titans of business and media. If you’re curious: Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott Jr. jumps from the No. 9 spot in 2003 to the top of the heap this year.

• • •

GQ, weighing in at 432 pages, features Justin Timberlake (clutching a brewski) on its September cover while billboarding the story “John Kerry has a beer with GQ.” Inside, the patrician senator reveals his regular-guy side through a Q&A; format during a stop at the All Stars Sports Bar & Grill in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Independence Day.

• • •

The Sept. 12 issue of the New Yorker, another publication that appears to be leaning toward Mr. Kerry, offers an account of writer Ken Auletta’s conversation with Robert Shrum, a senior adviser to the Democratic presidential hopeful. Among the conversation’s choicest tidbits: The Kerry camp “will divide about $8 million dollars of the advertising budget among themselves” — with Mr. Shrum and his partners “getting about $5 million.”

Mr. Shrum, for the record, has written speeches for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and reportedly has ties to the Kennedy family.

• • •

Turning to somewhat lighter fare, Cottage Living, a handsome bimonthly covering cottage living from the Pacific Northwest to rural Minnesota and North Carolina, is among the passel of new publications headed to newsstands this season. Its motto, “Comfort, Simplicity, Style,” handily describes its look and underscores the premier issue’s features on gardening, decorating and food. Visit online at www.cottageliving.com

• • •

Also new this month: Justine, a rather charming and refreshing monthly for teenage girls. The content is tasteful and (unlike some teen magazines) won’t make mothers squirm — yet is hip enough to appeal to young readers. Its title, however, is an odd choice, given that Justine is the name of a very naughty 18th-century novel by the infamous Marquis de Sade. Sade’s Justine was an innocent young woman who came to a sad end … so perhaps Josie or Janice would have been a better tag.

• • •

Another magazine making its September debut is Vitals — a cool, elegant and practical journal for young men on the fast track. Actor Matt Damon, nattily attired in a white shirt, dark tie and dark suit, is on the cover. Billboarded atop his glossy image are stories such as “783+ People to Know Places to Go & Things to Own.”

As for the political scene, Vitals offers features on “John Kerry’s Breath Mints,” “George W. Bush’s Pickup” and “How to Zip Through Airport Security.”

• • •

Last, but surely not least, Knot Weddings DC-Maryland is bringing forth everything young about-to-be-wed area couples could possibly seek in the way of planning their nuptials. The magazine, which debuted in July, features wedding information not only for those in the District (plus the Virginia and Maryland suburbs), but also for prospective brides and bridegrooms in Baltimore.

This spiffy and tasteful monthly lists directories of reception sites, florists, entertainment options and details on hundreds of local wedding professionals. Carley Roney, editor in chief and co-founder of the Knot (www.theknot.com;AOL keyword: weddings) started the publication — with localized versions in cities nationwide — after living through the experience of her own wedding.

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