NEW YORK — Bonnie Fuller just can’t stay put.
Late Thursday afternoon, Wenner Media executives admitted that Fuller was leaving Us Weekly. She is expected to be named the editorial director of American Media. No replacement for her at Us Weekly was named at press time, but a high-level source at Wenner indicated that the top choice was executive editor Janice Min, who is currently on vacation.
This story first appeared in the June 27, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
At David Pecker’s American Media, Fuller is expected to be tapped to help oversee three of the nation’s leading tabloids — The Star, The Globe and The National Enquirer — at a time when they have been rapidly losing readers on the newsstand. A large portion of her new job, however, will likely be focused on The Star, which is moving its base to New York.
Fuller had been editor in chief at Us Weekly for only 16 months but in that time the title’s newsstand sales soared to more than 500,000 from 300,000 as she repositioned the magazine as a hip tabloid with readerships among suburban supermarket shoppers and urban fashionistas looking for a good guilty pleasure.
Her departure came as a shock to the staff at Us Weekly. There had been no real indication, one Wenner source said, that anything was the matter between her and the company’s president, Jann Wenner, or that she was looking to leave. In fact, much of the staff was on vacation on Thursday, and others heard about it from reporters calling around at press time. Additionally, a report in The New York Post in February said that she had signed a three-year contract with the company.
But receiving a contract and signing it are two different things, an executive from the company said, and on Thursday afternoon, Fuller informed her bosses that she was leaving the title. Behind closed doors, a source said, Wenner also had begun to offer more managerial input in recent weeks.
But most people chalked it up to habit. Fuller came to the United States from Canada in the late Eighties as the editor of YM, left that position for Hearst in June 1994 to edit Marie Claire, was promoted to the editorship of Cosmopolitan in January 1996, left for Glamour in August 1998 and was fired from there in June 2001 after a nasty feud with Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, and amidst rumors that she had been angling to go back to Hearst as the editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar. Fuller has repeatedly denied those reports, though, saying that she had no intention of trying to score the Bazaar job.
At 6 p.m. Thursday, Wenner took the Us Weekly staff still in the office into a conference room and told them Fuller was leaving. According to a source, he attempted to make light of the situation and said that the current double issue now on newsstands would make a transition somewhat easier. He also said he had no major changes planned for the magazine — other than to make their work hours less onerous. But one source present said it seemed a bit out of touch, since their hours under Fuller had improved greatly in recent months.
“There was some relief,” said a source who was in the office, “but a lot of people were just shocked and confused. And everyone was really upset Bonnie didn’t tell us herself. It was just like, ‘Huh?’”
Neither Fuller nor a spokesman for American Media returned calls for comment.