Politics & Media
Aug 03, 2009, 05:48AM

The party to end all parties

Robert Isabell, Talk magazine, and the death of print media.

When I read in the New York Post’s “Page Six” on Friday that  the great party designer Robert Isabell had died suddenly at 57 (of a heart attack), I felt as if a magic lantern had suddenly been extinguished. The last party he pulled off for me was the Talk magazine launch event, co-hosted with the magazine's co-owner Harvey Weinstein, on Liberty Island in 1999, an extravaganza I have come to see as the last social  celebration of the pre-9/11 celebrity decade. Guests, who included Madonna, George Plimpton, Demi Moore, Tom Brokaw, Kate Moss, Christopher Buckley, Helen Mirren, and Jerry Seinfeld, disgorged one after another from the Liberty Island ferry that Buckley immediately re-christened the “Star Barge.” Like an A-list Noah’s Ark, it motored slowly toward the tiny island where the Talk staff waited to greet the 800 guests in a warm August dusk. When the magazine folded two years later in a howl of schadenfreude, that party was considered one of the calumnies of hype I would never live down. (As the movie producer David Brown once said, “Never give an opening night party that’s better than the movie.")


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