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Interview With Elizabeth Saltzman

Aired June 18, 2003 - 19:51   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: A net worth of $300 million. Cry all you want. Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with tween stars. Tweens are kids 8 to 14, and for millions of them, their heroes are the next generation of movie stars, barely out of puberty but heavily into marketing. The reason for my obsession is simple, deep seething jealousy. I admit it. You have to understand, being on TV or in the movies isn't enough for these tween stars, much like Veruca Salt and her quest for an Umpa-Lumpa (ph), they want to own every form of media, and they want it now.

COOPER (voice-over): Unlike the Coreys of '80s tween worship, Haim and Feldman, today's tweens aren't content with succeeding in just one medium. Twin tweens Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen started it all. Now they have a billion-dollar empire built on videos, clothing, perfume and more.

And then there's the current tween it girl, Hilary Duff. Fans know her as Lizzie Maguire. Wall Street knows her as a multimedia powerhouse. Movies, books, albums.

Three corporate giants lead the way in engineering and grooming Olsen wannabes, like Hillary, Britney, Lindsey (ph) and Mandy (ph). Typically, Nickelodeon or Disney starts them off. Then when they're ready to breed, they go to the WB.

Why such a focus on these tween stars? Well, it has little to do with their artistic vision. One tween star told "Vanity Fair" her favorite author is "whoever wrote the Bible."

Their real power lies in the spending power of their fans. These kids are at that magical age when new multibillion spending power is put in service of intense peer pressure, leading to brand loyalties that can last a lifetime.

The flip side for tween stars, though, is once the fans grow up, their star power may dim. Don't believe me? Just ask one of the Coreys.


COOPER: Well, these tweens are everywhere, even in places that might surprise you. "Vanity Fair," they're right on the cover, not "Teen Beat" magazine, not "Teen Vogue." "Vanity Fair." Tweens are all over "Vanity Fair." There's the issue right there. And "Vanity Fair" is all over the tweens.

So we have with us "Vanity Fair" fashion director Elizabeth Saltzman. Elizabeth, thanks for being with us. So I was shocked when I saw "Vanity Fair" covering the tweens. It must mean that they are important. Why are they so important?

ELIZABETH SALTZMAN, FASHION DIRECTOR, "VANITY FAIR": Well, they're important because we report on what's happening. We report on the culture of what's now, what's making money, what the buzz is, what's next.

COOPER: And they're making a lot of money.

SALTZMAN: They're not making just a little; they're making much more than a lot of money.

COOPER: And unlike stars of the past, I mean, they really are not content to just be singers or dancers, they are like Omnimedia, they are like mini Martha Stewart.

SALTZMAN: They're more than Martha Stewart, actually, because they go, they start, they have a television show to back themselves up, then they have the movie, then they've got the clothing line. They have much more, they reach a much broader audience as well.

COOPER: Yes, I saw one of them being interviewed on some television show, and they were talking about, yes, when I left "The Cosby Show" at age 4, then I cut an album at age 5. I'm like, this is pathetic -- what ever happened to being a kid?

SALTZMAN: They're still kids. That was the great thing about the photo shoot. They were still young, they are still ambitious, they're still excited, they have fun, they play dressup, they have pillow fights. They're very cool kids.

COOPER: Who's the ultimate tween?

SALTZMAN: Well, I would have to say right now, you have to talk about Hilary Duff, and you have to talk about the Olsen twins.

COOPER: Because the Olsens I guess really started it all.

SALTZMAN: They created it, maybe even more than started it. They finished what, you know...

COOPER: And they started like, I mean, like prenatal, I mean, they were on television.

SALTZMAN: But they turned it into an empire, what Shirley Temple could have done they did.


COOPER: Their company I think is called Dual Star. I think they had a gross of like $1 billion last year. SALTZMAN: But they work hard. That's the difference. They're not just sitting there hiring people to do their business. They do their own business, and they're well-rounded and they're polite people.

COOPER: Are they nice?

SALTZMAN: They're so nice, and they're cool. How about that? The Olsens are actually very, very cool.

COOPER: Really?


SALTZMAN: And Hilary Duff is a star, and I guarantee you, that within 10 years, you will see at least three of those people on the cover grace their own cover of "Vanity Fair."

COOPER: Do you think they will -- do they all have staying power like that?

SALTZMAN: One can't predict if they all have it, but certainly some have it. It also depends on who's managing them, what career choices they make, what their parents help them to do. You know, what choices they make as adults, which they will become.

COOPER: Well, it would be interesting to see the audience that sort of adores them now, as that audience grows, whether they continue to adore them as they grow older. And I guess that's the unknown here.

SALTZMAN: It is the unknown, but we're all assuming that it will be that way.

COOPER: All right, Elizabeth Saltzman, thanks very much.

SALTZMAN: Thank you.


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