Vanity Fair released their June 2009 issue. On the cover is Jessica Simpson, their main feature, whose childhood as a preachers daughter, to becoming a pop icon, with the highs and lows, are detailed in this exclusive interview. Also featured are stories on Bernard Madoff, the Kennedy Dynasty, Wall Streeters, and Francis Bacon.
“Hello, Madoff!” The Madoff Chronicles, Part II: What The Secretary Saw
Few people outside his family knew Bernard Madoff better than Eleanor Squillari, who spent two decades as his private secretary, then helped the F.B.I. gather evidence against him. In collaboration with Mark Seal, Squillari reveals for the first time the strange behavior of her former boss (often kind and generous, sometimes nasty and lewd), describes the frantic last days at the office, and pieces together clues to the shadow business, two floors below theirs, that was the ticking time bomb of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
The Jessica Question
After a tough few years—two movie duds, a risky foray into country music, and tabloid headlines about her weight—Jessica Simpson is at the crossroads of Obscurity and Re-invention. What brought the 28-year-old pop star, now also the controversial girlfriend of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, to this moment? Talking to Simpson about her life and loves, the author charts the inevitable rise of a preacher’s daughter from Abilene, Texas, the pervasive influence of her manager father, and the radiant quality that, through thick and thin, has made her a woman to watch.
Simpson, 28, who flashed like a jet through the pop-star sky, with her first Top 10 hit coming at age 19 (“I Wanna Love You Forever”), followed by other hit records, the MTV reality show that made her a household name (Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica), and several films, is currently surrounded by handlers—publicist, father and mother, pop-star sister (Ashlee), quarterback boyfriend (Tony Romo, of the Dallas Cowboys)—who together, like a high-altitude rescue team, try to get her down the sunny side of the slope.
“I think she absolutely needs to re-invent herself,” said Tommy Mottola, who, as the head of Sony Music, signed Simpson to her first major-label record deal in 1997.
Hell In Crisis
Think things are grim for Wall Streeters in the here and now? Edward Sorel and Richard Lingeman envision the scene in hell, where the Devil is talking bonus cuts, the Pit of Remorse is packed with frustrated financiers, and trophy wives are weeping over the eternal torment of their broke husbands’company.
The Lion And The Legacy
Senator Edward Kennedy’s diagnosis of brain cancer, in May 2008, touched off an extraordinary medical battle—and a veiled rivalry over who might succeed him as symbolic head of America’s fabled dynasty. Would it be R.F.K.’s oldest son, Joe? J.F.K.’s daughter, Caroline? Or the senator’s second wife, Victoria? An excerpt from the new book Ted Kennedy: The Dream That Never Died reveals the family’s shifting dynamics, the confrontation that led Caroline to drop her political bid, and the triumphant, grueling winter of the last Kennedy brother.
In front of the Kennedy compound, he lobbed a tennis ball into the water, and Sunny dived in after it. Suddenly he felt his jaw tighten, then noticed his left arm become numb. Dear God, don’t let me go like Dad, he later recalled thinking. He had a horror of having to spend his last years in the same condition as his paralyzed father, Joseph P. Kennedy, fully conscious but imprisoned in a useless body. According to one family friend, he fell to the sand and realized he could not move. The dogs reacted with frenzied yelps and barks, and several workmen, hearing the commotion, came running to the senator’s aid. They carried him back to the house and summoned Victoria Reggie Kennedy. When Vicki saw her husband’s condition, she let out a scream. Then she phoned 911.
Brush With Death
As the Metropolitan Museum of Art puts on a Francis Bacon retrospective, John Richardson spotlights the cruel genius of the late British artist’s work, recalling the dark comedy of Bacon’s 1968 trip to New York.
They may be rich, young, and beautiful, but the heirs and heiresses photographed in Bruce Weber’s portfolio have work to do, as artists, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists. Bob Colacello reports on how 38 scions—including a Hearst, an Agnelli, a Kennedy, and a Churchill—are using the family brand to forge their own legacies.
Oh, to be young, rich, beautiful—and doing something. At a moment when the economy is teetering and populism is all the rage, today’s gilded youth have got their work cut out for them, and they know it. Whether it’s expanding the family business or striking out independently, launching a career in the arts or plunging into philanthropy, the 38 heirs and heiresses to fabled names and consequential fortunes in this portfolio seem determined to make a contribution to society at large while carving out identities of their own.
Outtakes from Bruce Weber’s portfolio of the next generation of heirs and heiresses, including Margherita Maccapani Missoni (above). “With the opportunity I have been given by birth, I would be ashamed if I didn’t do something for others as well as myself,” says Agnelli scion Lapo Elkann, who calls himself a creative entrepreneur and is involved in everything from introducing an Italian vodka to supporting a hospital in Tel Aviv that cares for both Israelis and Palestinians. “We all have to prove ourselves, no matter who we are,” says Lapo’s cousin by marriage Rebecca de Ravenel, a fashion consultant. “I was very spoiled, but I knew that I wanted to work. I was working in a vintage shop when I was 17, and every Saturday morning I’d clean the windows.”
Splendor In The Grit
Between Serpico and Carrie Bradshaw, the grime-caked, crime-ridden metropolis of New York morphed into a glass-towered, tourist-friendly mall. Now that the teetering economy has some predicting a return to 1970s-style turmoil (ford to city: drop dead!), James Wolcott shares a dirty little secret about that much-maligned decade: it was actually kinda great.
New Kids On The Set
Mark Seliger spotlights the young cast of Fame, who will be telling the world to “remember my name” in the upcoming remake of the hit 1980 movie.
The Players Club
Mark Seliger and John Heilpern spotlight the critical mass of headline talent—Geoffrey Rush, Susan Sarandon, Jane Fonda, James Gandolfini, et al.— that has transformed this Broadway season into a play-lover’s paradise. Video: Interviews from the photo shoot.
Anatomy Of A Miracle
On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 lost thrust in both engines after a freak collision with a flock of geese. From the gruesome meeting of birds and fan blades to Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s now legendary Hudson River landing, William Langewiesche details exactly how 155 people faced—and escaped—death, thanks to one remarkable pilot and a band of revolutionary Airbus engineers.