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Vanity Fair editor explains 'epic takedown' of Gwyneth Paltrow

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The saga between behemoths Gwyneth Paltrow and Vanity Fair seems to have come to an anticlimactic close.

Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter addressed long-running rumors that the magazine would blast the Oscar-winning actress -- an article he said some expected to be an "epic takedown" of sorts -- in his Editor's Letter for VF's 20th Hollywood issue. The highly praised cover features an Annie Liebowitz portrait of a diverse array of actors, including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts, Idris Elba, George Clooney and an extended pullout that features Michael B. Jordan, Jared Leto, Lupita Nyong'o, Naomie Harris, Brie Larson, Chadwick Boseman, Margot Robbie and Lea Seydoux.

Indeed, Carter said he did assign reporter Vanessa Grigoriadis to look into the polarizing views people have about the Goop guru; however, what they ended up with wasn't all it was built it up to be.

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"Vanessa turned in her story at the end of the summer. And it was just what had been assigned -- a reasoned, reported essay on the hate/love-fest that encircles Gwyneth Paltrow," Carter said in an excerpt of the letter posted online. "I thought it perfectly explained the whole phenomenon. But it was such a far cry from the almost mythical story that people were by now expecting -- the 'epic takedown,' filled with 'bombshell' revelations -- that it was bound to be a disappointment. What to do? I decided to sit on it for a time."

Amid the buildup, the New York Times reported in September that Paltrow, 41, had lobbied her famous friends in May to decline to speak to the magazine, and recommended that they "never do this magazine again."

The expose seemingly promised juicy details about the mother of two's marriage to Coldplay's Chris Martin and alleged infidelity and "friend breakups," according to Us Weekly.  

But in October, the "Iron Man 3" star called Carter, who has helmed the magazine for two decades, and the two had it out. 

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"We talked for about 20 minutes about the story and her reaction, or over-reaction, to it," he said. "At one point, she asked my advice as to what to do to get the 'haters' on her side. I suggested putting on 15 pounds. I joked that it works for me. She replied I had put on much more than that. Which I thought was fair and funny."

Two months later, Carter said, the interwebs relayed that the two had called "a truce"

"We received more mail, much of it now criticizing us for caving. There had also been conflicting reports that Gwyneth had coerced George Clooney into not being on our cover -- clearly not true. There were reports that she was trying to scuttle our annual Oscar party, that she was going to organize a competing dinner. The Paltrow camp subsequently denied both claims."

(It should be noted that Clooney pokes fun of the feud in a behind-the-scenes video of the cover shoot, claiming doing the latest cover is "very exciting. I think it's going to be fun. That's what Gwyneth Paltrow told me to say!")

The conflict apparently generated more mail and attention than many of the larger stories the magazine published, further complicating the problem, Carter said.

As for the story about People's Most Beautiful Woman? It just isn't what it was rumored to be, he said.  

"The Gwyneth Paltrow saga had clearly just gotten away from us," he said. "My instinct was to continue to let it sit until people had forgotten about it, or at least until expectations had diminished. The fact is the Gwyneth Paltrow story, the one we ordered up, as delightfully written as it was, is not the one the anti-Gwynethites expect."

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Gwyneth PaltrowNewspaper and MagazineLiteraturePeriodicalsArts and CultureGeorge ClooneyPolitics
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