Tina Brown and chums are a flop on US TV

Tina Brown is back, but few people know it. On Wednesday, New York's most famous expatriate media maven and power hostess made her debut in a new night-time talk show on the financial news channel CNBC. It went smoothly enough, but hardly anyone watched.

Viewing figures for the one-hour programme, Topic A With Tina Brown, which oddly will air only quarterly, achieved a dismal 0.1 per cent – some 74,000 viewers.

It is a chance for redemption for its host, who attained media stardom here editing Vanity Fair and the New Yorker. But she was humbled last year by the demise of Talk, the monthly started with backing from Miramax studio chief Harvey Weinstein.

No one is writing off the programme yet, even though it put CNBC firmly in last position among the four cable networks in the same time slot. "We're very proud of the show," insisted a channel spokeswoman. "We're very much looking forward to the next show." No air date, however, has been set.

Ms Brown had no trouble attracting high-wattage guests. Indeed, their faces closely resembled those who might have attended one of her fancier dinner parties hosted with her husband, the former Times editor Harry Evans.

Thus we eavesdropped on galloping repartee with the likes of Daily Telegraph owner Conrad Black, the media baron Barry Diller, Queen Noor of Jordan and the British historian Simon Schama. It was the quintessential Tina Brown evening.

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