From: Peggy Wilkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 18 Jul 2003
Subject: The August Issue
I would think that a reason to keep the classic Interview format is that it evokes the memory of a great tradition in its appearance. I know that no one will dispute that the PLAYBOY Interview has been a wonderful feature over the decades. That's good, but what if the Interview becomes something less than it was in the past, as it has in recent years? Where's the strength in keeping up appearances, if the substance doesn't back it up?
I hope it will be strong in both appearance and substance. Changing the appearance doesn't mean that the tradition will be forgotten. Keep the appearance and lose the substance, and it will be forgotten (or at least dismissed).
I have enjoyed some of the foreign edition interview formats, and to me they look more attractive because they fit in better with other, more modern layouts. To me, part of the issue is making the magazine look good as a whole. To have parts of it look very modern, and other parts very old fashioned, presents a problem in giving the reader a sense of coherence and visual flow.
I am not wedded to the notion of updating the layout of the Interview, but I do think that updating it could be a win overall. But to me the more important thing is to preserve the spirit of the Interview over its appearance.
From: Peggy Wilkins <email@example.com>, 22 Jul 2003
Subject: More thoughts on the Interview
We were earlier talking about the format of the Interview feature. Its appearance today is essentially the same as it has been since its debut in 1962. On the one hand, this appearance reinforces the iconic role of this feature; on the other hand, it looks outdated. Which way to go?
I have a new suggestion. I think it is fairly obvious that the content of the PLAYBOY Interview has been diluted quite a bit in recent years. Nowadays it tends to be used much like the talk show circuit, with most Interview subjects being whatever actor or sports figure or musician is in the news or (more notably) has something to promote. For instance, Tobey Maguire is interviewed in the August issue. He is in the news because he starred in Spiderman recently and now has a new notable movie just coming out, Seabiscuit. I see this as a primarily promotional feature, and so it is disappointing when viewed in the PLAYBOY Interview tradition (it just doesn't have the weight one would really want).
I think this type of Interview dilutes the feature, so why not break it off into a separate feature? In other words, some issues could feature two Interviews (the second would probably have to be called something else, though), but one of them would be a substantial piece of the traditional Interview type, with a real Mover/Shaker, thinker, person of some controversy, etc., and the other could be of this promotional, "buzz", person-in-the-news type and could be shorter and could have an updated format.
I think this is a very interesting start of an idea that could be developed. It would preserve the integrity of the Interview while allowing more flexibility in both content and layout.