Lena Dunham and Ex-Producing Partner Shut Down Lenny Letter
Posted October 19, 2018 11:09 a.m. EDT
Lenny Letter, the feminist newsletter and website founded by Lena Dunham and her former producing partner, Jenni Konner, closed down Friday.
The end of the publication, which began in 2015, comes three months after Dunham and Konner announced that they were splitting as producers.
Dunham rose to fame as the creator of the HBO show “Girls,” which ended after a six-season run last year. Konner was an executive producer of “Girls” and its showrunner. The two women continued to work together as creators of the current HBO program “Camping” and decided to go their separate ways as their dual contract with the cable network neared its end.
On Friday, Dunham, Konner and Molly Elizalde, the editorial and creative director of Lenny Letter, posted a farewell message that did not offer details about why it was being shut down.
“While there’s no one reason for our closure, this change allows for growth and a shift in perspectives — ours and yours,” they wrote.
In recent weeks, lawyers representing Lenny Letter had approached potential investors seeking ways to keep it running through the 2020 election, according to an email obtained by The New York Times.
Representatives for Lenny Letter, Dunham and Konner did not reply to requests for comment.
In an interview this month, Konner described her split with Dunham as “sort of a slow burn.”
“We just wanted to go in different directions,” she said. “I think we’re not sure what they are, but we want to find our independence.”
Contributors to Lenny Letter recently received an email telling them that the site would be closing and that they would be receiving so-called kill fees for their unpublished work. The newsletter’s staff members — three full-time editors and one part-time editor — were told of the move last week.
The twice-weekly newsletter, which expanded into a website soon after its debut, focused on issues like women’s health, gun violence and sexual harassment. Contributors included Michelle Obama, feminist writer Roxane Gay and actress Julianne Moore. In 2015, Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence wrote one of Lenny Letter’s most attention-grabbing stories, “Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars?”
According to promotional materials reviewed by The Times, Lenny Letter had 350,000 subscribers, 150,000 fewer than the figure cited in a July 2017 article about its success.
Lenny Letter also produced two podcasts — “Women of the Hour” and “Lenny Says” — and a short-lived video initiative that featured, among other things, Dunham interviewing Hillary Clinton. Along the way, it established partnerships centered on advertising sales and other services with two major media companies, Hearst Magazines and Condé Nast.
Last November, a Lenny Letter contributor, Zinzi Clemmons, announced that she would no longer write for the publication after Dunham and Konner released a statement in support of Murray Miller, a writer for “Girls” who had been accused of sexual assault.
“It is time for women of color — black women in particular — to divest from Lena Dunham,” Clemmons wrote on Twitter.
After her initial defense of Miller attracted a social media backlash, Dunham posted a lengthy apology on Twitter. In August, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said in a court filing that it would not press charges against Miller.
In their farewell note, Dunham, Konner and Elizalde expressed pride in their work.
“We trust that Lenny’s mission to amplify unheard voices and the complexities of the female experience will roar even louder inside (and outside) each of you,” they wrote.