What if you gave a big launch party for dozens of celebrities and nobody came except Jeremy Beadle? Sends shivers down the spine, but that's what happened to Time Out's Tony Elliott on Wednesday night. Elliott, founder and publisher of London's Time Out, was in town to launch Time Out New York (Tony) and celebrity-wise the "gala-event" was a disaster. New York's A-list was conspicuously absent except for Vogue's Anna Wintour, who popped in early to wish her old pal Elliott the best. Beadle worked on the magazine in the Seventies.

No famous New Yorkers took the mick and none of New York's six local news programmes covered the party. The most recognisable New York face was the Cable TV porn star Robyn Byrd.

Elliott was undaunted. He says New York Time Out is his dream; London's Time Out was just practice. "I've wanted to do this from the first time I came to New York," says Elliott.

A lot of New Yorkers do not share Elliott's vision, such as David Schneiderman who publishes Village Voice, the hip entertainment guide that is one of Tony's main competitors. "Time Out New York is such a crazy notion that I keep worrying they may know something we New Yorkers do not." Still, Schneiderman was sufficiently worried by Tony that two weeks ago he launched a free listings magazine in a pre-emptive strike.

Tony has already sold out its 50,000 print run, a feat that will be difficult to sustain in an already crowded market. Apart from Village Voice, there is the New Yorker, New York, New York Press and Paper. All carry listings although none is as comprehensive as Tony.

"I would bet against Time Out surviving, although I wish it well," says Kurt Andersen, New York editor. "I think its target of 50,000 sales is extremely ambitious. We've been established for more than a decade and we sell 35,000 a week."

Elliott is proud of the Tony editorial staff, who are all drawn from New York. But Andersen says: "The first edition lacked a real knowingness about New York. They've hired a lot of very young people who are just happy to be in print."

The Voice's Schneiderman was far less gracious: "The first edition reads like a telephone directory. The editorial stuff reads like it's written by people from out of town. We tried to do a comprehensive listings magazine five years ago. Seven Days lost $12m before we closed it after 18 months. There is no evidence that New York wants comprehensive listings."

But maybe Tony's editor, Cyndi Stivers, has the spunk required to make it work - after all she was born in New York's Washington Heights, her father runs a mail-order bovine semen company and she was a big hit as deputy editor of Premiere magazine. She dismisses the criticism as just carping from competitors.

Britain has made a cottage industry of exporting media types, such as Tina Brown and Anna Wintour. But we've never sent over an entire magazine to tell New Yorkers where to go.

Beadle, however, is unabashed: "New York is such a fabulous place. In London you have to go and find things; over here there's something on every corner." And that may explain why London needs a comprehensive listings guide and New York does not.

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