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Anna Wintour on Letterman: Turning the Publicity Tide? (Updated)

Picture 7Earlier this year it was 60 MinutesMorley Safer, but last night it was David Letterman who got to ask questions to Vogue editrix Anna Wintour.

Before we get to the interview, our most pressing question has to be: Why would Wintour, who seldom appears on television, agree to sit down with Letterman??

The September Issue — R. J. Cutler’s forthcoming documentary about the production of the September 2008 book — would be one plausible explanation. But Vogue has no financial stake in the film (Cutler has told the Times), so Wintour has no reason to care if anybody goes to see it.

Then again, buzz is buzz, and Vogue could certainly use some at the newsstand this month while Wintour’s business goes under McKinsey’s microscope. Then again, Late Show viewers never saw the September cover, and there was no mention of the latest issue. Not much of a sales pitch.

Maybe Wintour was on the show to promote Fashion’s Night Out — a retail stimulus event that she has helped organize to boost sales this September. But even that didn’t receive much mention beyond a brief plug.

Motivation aside, Wintour was a perfectly charming, engaged Late Show guest. After she removed her sunglasses and settled into the chair (legs crossed, hands resting quietly in her lap), she fielded questions with aplomb and gave as good as she got when it came to Letterman’s jokes: He asked “Have you ever put anybody in a head lock?,” and she replied “Maybe you.” The pair also swapped anecdotes that they’d read in print about Wintour’s relationship with Vogue creative director Grace Coddington — a very polite way to talk about one’s friends and co-workers on late night television.

There were also thoughtful moments in the interview, for example when Letterman said, “You are bigger than what you do for a living … Is that a fair assessment?”

Wintour: “I read in the New York Times this week that I’m an ice queen, I’m a sun king, I’m an alien fleeing from District 9, and I’m a dominatrix. So I reckon that makes me a lukewarm royalty with a whip from outer space — what do you think?”

Wintour was referring to comments written by Maureen Dowd, “among others.”

Cutler’s documentary has given anybody and everybody a chance to write about Wintour. And If nothing else, Wintour’s appearance on Letterman was a chance for her to speak for herself. That must have been nice.

Anna Wintour with David Letterman last night (updated with full clip):

September Issue director R. J. Cutler and Vogue editor at large André Leon Talley on CBS Early Show last Thursday:

Morley Safer and Anna Wintour on 60 Minutes in May:

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