Cherchez la Femme!

ANOTHER LEAP FOR POLO: The possibility of a Ralph Lauren magazine is still a way off, but the company took a step forward on the project Thursday when a spokeswoman said Charles Gandee, the former features editor of Talk and longtime aide to Anna...

ANOTHER LEAP FOR POLO: The possibility of a Ralph Lauren magazine is still a way off, but the company took a step forward on the project Thursday when a spokeswoman said Charles Gandee, the former features editor of Talk and longtime aide to Anna Wintour at Vogue, had been tapped as the not-yet-existent magazine’s editor.

“We’ve brought him on to explore media opportunities,” she said, “as we are always looking to extend the Polo Ralph Lauren brand appropriately.”

This story first appeared in the May 23, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The possibility of a Ralph Lauren magazine first surfaced in spring 2002, though details on it remain scarce. — Jacob Bernstein

THE RAPID DESCENT OF JAYSON BLAIR: Did Jayson Blair blow his chances of a book deal by giving The New York Observer an unrepentant interview in which he boasted of having fooled “some of the most brilliant minds in journalism?”

Probably not, since there are a number of fringe publishers that might like some publicity. But as for getting a multimillion-dollar contract, publishing experts across several fields — from celebrity marketing experts to book publishers to agents — said that’s unlikely and Blair’s 15 minutes were almost up (even if the chaos at The Times is just beginning).

“Blair has blown it in my view,” said Tina Brown in an e-mail. “There is nothing left for him now except a reality show costarring with Baghdad Bob.”

Janice Min, who tracks the pitfalls and comebacks of celebrities as the executive editor of Us Weekly, said, “When you screw up, the first thing a celebrity is supposed to say is that you’re sorry, that you don’t understand your own behavior and beg for forgiveness. Jayson Blair did none of those things. It seemed that he had public sympathy on his side, that The New York Times had overcompensated [for what he’d done], but he exhausted any remaining goodwill people who were willing to extend him. Celebrity publicists always say the first thing you do is act contrite. And there was none of that.”

Others more centrally in the book publishing industry were more circumspect about speaking on the record, but their reactions were mostly the same.

“I think he hurt his chances very badly,” said a veteran book agent, who requested anonymity. “There’s not a lick of understanding [on Blair’s part] that he did anything wrong. It demonstrated that he was a pathological literary narcissist,” the agent said.

At the same time, the agent noted that the Lauren Weisberger media novel, “The Devil Wears Prada,” is selling briskly and that the “the one thing that may work in his favor is that there’s an interest in how the sausage is cooked at The Times and he can provide that.”

But other factors will work against him, sources said. For one, sales of the book, “The Fabulist,” by The New Republic plagiarist Stephen Glass, have been terrible (the book is currently 3,778 on the Amazon list). And one publisher who asked not to be quoted remarked that publishing the book comes with another tremendous risk: angering The New York Times.

Of course, there are publishers that may not mind that. Several industry sources suggested that Judith Regan of Regan Books, a publisher famous for courting controversy, could be a match.

But don’t hold your breath — Regan said she had no interest. “Truthfully I don’t see it, I don’t get it.” she said. “Jayson Blair is a liar. He’s dishonest. Why would I want to publish a nonfiction book by him? I think that memoir is a big ‘who cares?’”

Still, Regan didn’t close the door completely. “If he was a good novelist, I might be interested. He could do a roman à clef about The Times.”

David Vigliano, Jayson Blair’s agent, did not return a call seeking comment. — J.B.

MAXIM-UM WOMEN: Given the success of Maxim and Stuff, it’s no surprise that executives at parent Dennis Publications are plotting for the future. One might be Maxim Goes to the Movies, the 400,000-copy one-shot on sale this month that might become a regular if it hits on the newsstand.

Another, far more daring, idea is “Maxim for Women,” which is what two sources with knowledge of the project have dubbed the “soft prototype” of a women’s magazine that has been kicking around Dennis for several years. Serious work on the title has started again, the sources said, which would bring a little bit of the lads’ wit to bear on the women’s service category.

There’s no title and definitely no green light, a source said. It all may depend on how Maxim Goes to the Movies performs. “If it does well, it’s a quarterly; if it doesn’t do well, you will not see a women’s magazine,” one source said. A Dennis spokesman denied its existence outright. “There is no prototype,” he said.

It’s not hard to see why such a magazine hasn’t seen the light of day. Besides the editorial issues (does Maxim really translate?) there are enormous advertising obstacles. Unlike the men’s category, where Dennis is the only multititle publisher, a new women’s magazine would have to contend with the giant corporate buys of Condé Nast and Hearst, which are the top two options for mass market advertisers. The conventional wisdom is that a women’s Maxim can’t be done…but that’s what they also said about Maxim in 1997.
— Greg Lindsay

A GRAND ENTRANCE AT CALVIN KLEIN?: Is the London-based fashion stylist, Katie Grand, adding Calvin Klein’s ad campaigns to her already-brimming plate? It appears so. Industry sources close to Grand have indicated that she has been asked to style the company’s ad campaigns for spring 2004 — snatching the gig from under the nose of fellow Brit Karl Templer, who recently completed the fall 2003 ad campaign. The Calvin job would be the latest in a string of projects Grand is already working on, including editing Emap’s biannual fashion title, POP, and working with fashion houses from Luella to Prada to Louis Vuitton. Spokespeople for Grand and Calvin Klein both declined to comment. — Ellen Burney

FEWER PEOPLE: Since Ann Moore’s pronouncement that Time Inc. would attempt to cut costs this year by $100 million, there has been relatively little in the way of layoffs on the edit side of the company’s marquee titles. This week, People magazine changed that. Executive editor Joe Treen is going along with five staffers in the magazine’s editorial operations department. “The place is shaking. People are a little nervous,” said one source. — J.B.

RUBBERNECKING: Talk about turning heads. The cover of last week’s issue of French Elle, featuring the French actress, Emmanuelle Beart, in the buff, has had tout Paris buzzing. Promotional posters, plastered all over the city, have even been blamed for causing three car accidents. But the special “beauty” issue proved that sex sells, even in a country where nudity is common in advertising. Elle said 167,000 copies moved on newsstands, compared with the average 120,000. Including subscriptions, 400,000 copies sold. — Miles Socha

JACK SEEKS JILL: Jack is joining forces with Agent Provocateur — surprise! — to find fresh faces — and bodies, of course — for an upcoming ad campaign that will appear in the men’s magazine. “There’s loads of talent out there and for me, it’s a chance to open the door and see what we get,” said James Brown, editor of Jack, who will be judging the candidates together with Joe Corre of Agent Provocateur. “It’s not just for the 18-year old who has always wanted to model; it’s for anyone who thinks, ‘yeah, that could be me,’” he said. The chosen few will attend a casting in central London on June 11 and the finalists will appear in an Agent Provocateur ad that will run in the August or September edition of Jack. “What you’ll end up seeing in the magazine is a very real, behind-the-scenes story rather than a manicured shoot,” added Brown. — Samantha Conti

NEW LIGHT: On Tuesday, we reported that Lighthouse Productions recently closed operations. It turns out that the company has simply shifted gears. Patrick Deedes, Lighthouse’s president, explained by phone from Paris that Lighthouse closed as a print production company three years ago, reinventing itself as an artist management company representing some of the world’s greatest photographers. “We’re continuing through to August,” said Deedes, “though I have released a few of my photographers. After that, we’ll be focusing on a different type of management for a different crowd,” by which he seemed to mean actors, models and popular musicians. Deedes indicated that he believes the epicenter of the industry has shifted away from fashion photographers shooting fashion campaigns and toward fine-art photographers, art directors and what he calls “celebrity creatives.” — Rob Haskell

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