The Quieting of Talk
The unabashed glee with which Tina Brown's critics met her "failure" seems to be a central component of news stories surrounding Talk's demise. While Brown may have provoked some of her enemies, the dissolution of the Hearst/Miramax-backed magazine puts approximately 100 people out of work, not to mention the trickle-down effects that will surely be felt by the publication's vendors. And Talk's circulation of 670,000 is certainly not insignificant. But love Brown or hate her, the magazine, when viewed objectively, was a good, fun read that produced compelling photography snapped by some of the world's best photographers.
One such contributor who is now looking for work is Michael Bullerdick, Talk's editorial production director. Prior to the official announcement that the magazine had lost its financial backing, he discussed color control practices with PrintMedia. When originally interviewed, Bullerdick's passion and dedication to his work were refreshing reminders of all that's great about magazine publishing. A week after the January 18 announcement, Bullerdick, via telephone, recounts the days following Talk's dissolution. His disappointment that production has been halted is immediately evident. Some of the disappoint is personal, but a majority of it stems from his firm belief in the upstart print venture. "When you believe in the project, it's a little heartbreaking. And when it's no more, you think 'what am I going to do now?,'" says Bullerdick.
Like everyone else in the Western world, or at least within a 200-mile radius of New York City, Bullerdick had heard the rumors swirling through the industry. "We had, as a staff, been hearing rumors that Hearst was maybe pulling out, that Harvey [Weinstein] was happy with some things and unhappy with others. It was a mixed bag," he explains. "When we approached the leadership as a team, we had heard that other possible backers were lined up as late as the middle of the week [January 16]. We also heard that Harvey was proud of the project and behind it. So, when we received an e-mail on Friday about a mandatory staff meeting at 5:00 p.m., some of us thought a new backer had been found and others thought they were going to close the magazine. The newspaper and Internet rumors aside, it still came as a shock that they couldn't find another backer."