The Editor's Desk

I have always been a big fan of Annie Leibovitz--and so has almost every other magazine editor in the business. When the American Society of Magazine Editors last year asked its members to choose the best 40 covers of the past 40 years, No. 1 and No. 2 were both her photographs: John Lennon and Yoko Ono snuggling for the cover of Rolling Stone, hours before Lennon was killed in 1980, and Demi Moore unforgettably displaying her pregnant belly for Vanity Fair in 1991. So when I found out our best-known living photographer was coming out with a new book of her work over the past 15 years, mixing her famous celebrity portraits with moving pictures from her personal life, I jumped at the chance to share an excerpt with NEWSWEEK's readers. My only question: could she take her own photo for the cover? Ever the master of staging, she thought it over and came up with a clever solution, using a mirror to take a self-portrait with her three daughters at her weekend home in New York.

In a candid talk with Cathleen McGuigan, Leibovitz discusses her decision to offer intimate glimpses of her longtime relationship with writer Susan Sontag, including powerful pictures of Sontag as she was dying of cancer. Cathleen also got a sense of the work ethic that has produced so many iconic images. Interviews were sandwiched between back-to-back shoots in Los Angeles, including a session with Angelina Jolie that started at 5 a.m. and stretched until 7:30 at night. Leibovitz also reflects on how her work and life have been changed by becoming a mother in her 50s. She now will go on location only for three days, and recently made two trips to Colorado for her Vanity Fair cover of Suri Cruise. "I am so happy I did this," she says of having children, "and it is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done."

Visiting the White House last week, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf again insisted he is doing everything he can to pursue Osama bin Laden on the mountain border with Afghanistan. But on the ground, Sami Yousafzai reports that the area could be better described as "Jihadistan," given how totally Qaeda chiefs and local warlords now control it. Allan Sloan assesses the damage from the collapse of one of America's biggest hedge funds. And now that Dame Helen Mirren has an Emmy for portraying Elizabeth I and is generating Oscar buzz with her new film on Elizabeth II, Barbara Kantrowitz asks the incomparable British actress just how good it is to be the Queen.

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The Editor's Desk | News