NEW YORK — Five weeks after Bonnie Fuller shocked the publishing world in a move to American Media — publisher of supermarket tabloids The National Enquirer and The Star — it would seem that her former employer is playing a little bit of catch-up.

Today, Wenner Media’s Us Weekly will release a cover story on whether Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s wedding is on or off. And at People Magazine, a team also has been doing reconnaissance work, trying to figure out the same thing.

This story first appeared in the August 6, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The frenzy began last week after the Enquirer printed an exclusive in which two sources from a Vancouver strip bar asserted that Affleck had sexual relations with a dancer during a visit with actors Christian Slater and Tara Reid.

The revelations of Affleck’s possible infidelity also did not belong in any way to the company’s newly installed editorial director. Nevertheless, with Fuller as the company’s new mascot, executives at American Media seem poised to get a little bit of the respect they crave.

“It has certainly helped us,” said National Enquirer editor in chief David Perel. “You bring in Bonnie Fuller and people start looking.”

Actually, they’ve been looking for a while. What they haven’t been doing a lot of is crediting.

“I think that people were reluctant to credit the Enquirer because they were always considered beneath contempt,” VF scribe Maureen Orth said Tuesday. “But now I believe everyone else has gone downmarket to the extent that this kind of news is more mainstream than ever before.”

“I feel that the tabloids do a lot of terrific reporting they don’t get credit for,” Fuller said. “They have seasoned reporters that are on the case week after week.”

But credit may start to arrive. According to a source at Wenner, the Us Weekly article will “mention” the Enquirer.

“The Enquirer has certainly gotten their fair share of great stories,” said Wenner media general manager Kent Brownridge. “But my stance on this is that they didn’t break this story.”

A spokesman for People would not discuss its cover plans or The Enquirer, but one source at the magazine said, “It was a good story. We had it Xeroxed all over the office.”

UP AT THE TIMES: At press time, The New York Times said Magazine editor Adam Moss was moved into a newly created position of assistant managing editor for features, overseeing the Magazine, the Culture and Style sections, the Book Review and other sections.

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