Too Funny for Brill’s Content

Kudos to Alex Kuczynski of the New York Times for identifying the author of the unkind and extremely funny Web parody of Tina Brown’s forthcoming Talk magazine. Turns out it’s Michael Colton, a senior writer at Brill’s Content. His site was briefly shut down by Earthlink after some humorless Disney attorney complained that the spoof (which uses the Talk logo) was violating Miramax copyright, etc., etc. But Brown, to her credit, told Disney to back off; Earthlink apologized to Colton and credited his account for two months of free service; and the parody went back up.

When Chatterbox read the brief Times item to Mrs. Chatterbox at this morning’s non-virtual breakfast table, Mrs. Chatterbox had two interesting observations. The first was that Tina Brown knows buzz when she sees it. The second was that it speaks ill of Brill’s Content that this bit of creative writing by one of its staffers was deemed a bad fit for that earnest journal of media criticism. The latter point, however, is perhaps slightly unfair because Colton just inaugurated a monthly humor column on the Brill’s back page that we had both managed to miss. When Chatterbox phoned Colton to congratulate him on the Talk parody and find out why he didn’t publish it in Brill’s Content, Colton’s first response seemed kind of lame: “Brill’s Content has a purpose and a mission and this is something completely different.” But then Colton pointed out, rightly, that the parody would have lost its prank value if had been presented as a formal humor piece in a magazine. “I think it works better as a freestanding thing,” he said. Chatterbox decided, on reflection, that to beat up Brill’s Content for letting a good humor piece get away is, perhaps, the sort of tiresome nit-picking you’d expect from … well, Brill’s Content. But when Chatterbox raised this point with Mrs. Chatterbox, she suggested to him that he was engaging in the same literal-mindedness that has hampered … well, Brill’s Content.