DOES HE NEED HIM ANYMORE?: The May 15 issue of Rolling Stone is a 35th Anniversary special that features articles by journalism and pop culture luminaries like Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Cameron Crowe, Martin Scorsese, Lou Reed, Bill Moyers, Courtney Love and Jimmy Iovine. Complete with 101 ad pages, a record for this year, it’s the kind of retrospective that would make any journalism professor gush, but if it seems as though it belongs more to Jann Wenner than his current managing editor, Ed Needham, formerly of FHM, that’s because it does.
According to sources, after almost a year of letting Needham do his own thing, Wenner recently got back in the kitchen for the anniversary special, as well as several of the magazine’s upcoming issues. But when the cake was done, Wenner decided to cook a goose too, and so, he ordered Needham to fire assistant managing editor Tony Romando.
As FHM’s number two, Romando parachuted to Wenner with Needham in an effort to youth-enize the front of the book and beef up the magazine’s newsstand. But so far, large numbers of frat boys still don’t appear to be buying Rolling Stone with their six-packs of Bud Lite. During the final six months of 2002, the magazine posted a 3 percent drop on newsstands and Wenner sources said the magazine’s bestsellers had surprisingly been more traditional Rolling Stone covers, like ones that featured Bob Dylan and Keith Richards.
Making matters more frustrating, the Wenner company shuffle has been a success in the cases of Bonnie Fuller at Us Weekly and Bob Wallace at Men’s Journal.
So far, the headhunters don’t appear to have been called about Needham’s job, but his performance isn’t inspiring a lot of confidence within the company’s ranks, either.
“[Needham] was hired for buzz and newsstand expertise,” said a source at the company. “So far, they’ve gotten neither.”
“I don’t think the guy has long for this world,” said another. “I just don’t have much doubt about it.”
But perhaps they should doubt it. A Wenner spokesman said Needham is staying put.
“Certainly, Jann was involved with the issue,” he said, “but so was Ed. If anything, the current issue establishes that, in spite of the cynics, Ed is keeping Rolling Stone on task with its journalistic heritage.” — Jacob Bernstein
SHOPPING BY THE BOOK: Lucky architects Kim France and Andrea Linett will accessorize their magazine this fall with the next piece in their burgeoning empire: The Lucky Shopping Manual. Due to be published by Gotham Books in October, their 350-page, 1,000-plus photograph handbook of style promises to do for the fashion-challenged what self-diagnosis guides did for hypochondriacs. “If you have a cough and sweats, you open up the Merck manual,” said France, Lucky’s editor. “If you’re getting dressed and wondering about an A-line skirt with pumps, you open up the Lucky guide.”
Gotham, an imprint of Penguin Putnam, is planning a 150,000-copy first run and will support the book with a $350,000 marketing campaign, including a national book tour by the authors with parties in New York and Los Angeles. France declined to comment on the size of the advance.
“The whole idea is to make it ‘The Joy of Cooking’ of shopping,” said France. “And not just of shopping,” she added, “but of style.” — Greg Lindsay
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Randall Jones’ personal patronage of his brainchild, the personal finance magazine, Worth, may almost be at an end. After laying off the entire staff last month and promising a restructuring plan, “what started out being a situation where I was bringing in a financial partner has increasingly turned into what would be an outright sale,” Jones said Monday.
The potential buyer is “a strategic publisher,” he added, and the deal, if it’s done, would likely close in the next 60 days. But Jones declined to comment on the publisher’s identity, or the potential value of his magazine, of which he stills owns 92.5 percent. Even after the sale, Jones, who is currently its ceo, “will still be involved with the business,” he said.
A source close to the magazine said Jones has begun telling associates he hoped to have the magazine back up and running by June in order to produce issues this fall. He had recently been talking to an interested investor in California that may or may not be the publisher in question, the source said. —?G.L.
GOING…GOING…GONE: Some of the last pieces of Liz Tilberis’ personal effects will go on sale at 5 p.m. Wednesday — but people will have to travel to Maine to buy them, or do it online. Cyr Auction Gallery in Gray, Maine, will put more than 300 personal items of the late Harper’s Bazaar editor up for bid. Letters from her friend, Princess Diana, are expected to be the main draw of a so-far mostly online audience, along with 75 to 100 items of clothing primarily by Chanel and British couturier Catherine Walker. Other items include a signed and framed pencil sketch of Tilberis by Karl Lagerfeld and a signed photograph from Peter Lindbergh given on the occasion of her Bazaar appointment. Auctioneer James Cyr expects the cache, originally from her East Hampton home, to bring in $150,000 to $200,000. Her husband Andrew Tilberis has pledged part of the proceeds to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. — G.L.
WOMEN OF INDUSTRY: Monday’s media lunch spot wasn’t Michael’s, for once — not while Kate White, Maurie Perl and their fellow honorees at the 2003 Matrix Awards were eating a few blocks over at the Waldorf-Astoria.
Given annually by New York Women in Communications, the Awards honor accomplished women across a swath of creative fields. So maybe it only seemed like everyone in attendance was in the magazine business. New Yorker staffers and Condé Nast’s public relations staff turned out en masse for Perl, previously the engineer behind Tina Brown’s buzz machine and now Condé Nast’s senior vice president of corporate communications. “She’s not the kind of harridan you see on television or in movies,” said New Yorker editor David Remnick, Perl’s presenter at the awards. “She wouldn’t be the lead in ‘Phone Booth.’”
White, the editor of Cosmopolitan, saw her award as a sort of midcareer retrospective. “I have paid some dues,” she said, adding, “now that I’m over those early years [of] finding the right voice and right tone, I’d love to be able to enjoy this job for a while.” —?G.L.