CUT AND PASTE: What price retouching?

For Seventeen, about $3,500. That’s how much sources said the magazine spent to try and keep May cover star Sarah Michelle Gellar from taking legal action after Seventeen significantly airbrushed her photo for its current cover. According to sources, the magazine was provided with a pick-up shot of Gellar by her handlers, which Seventeen then played PhotoShop with, changing details in her wardrobe and in her pose so the shot wouldn’t be recognizable to readers.

This story first appeared in the April 1, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Mission accomplished: Gellar came off looking like an alien.

So when the soon-to-be former Vampire Slayer expressed displeasure at being recast as “E.T.,” the teen title dispatched an assistant from its fashion department to buy a green ostrich skin Prada handbag (priced exactly at $3,445) late last week and sent it to her handlers in an effort to patch things up.

Unfortunately, they were unimpressed.

“What they should have gotten was a Birkin Bag. What a total waste of money,” said a source close to the star. “If you’re going to try to make up with her, at least make it the best.”

“It looks like an alien foot attached to her arm” said her lawyer, Marty Singer of Lavely + Singer, who said that a complaint had been sent to the magazine and its publisher. “And it’s not going to be resolved by sending a expensive bag, particularly given how she feels about animal rights. To send her an ostrich bag? It’s being returned.”

Seventeen declined comment.

FINALLY ON THE RADAR: It does exist after all. Despite industry musings that Radar may have simply been the result of Maer Roshan’s fertile imagination, the startup magazine was printed in Ohio this past weekend, with Roshan himself babysitting the first press run after last week’s allegedly bumpy close.

The staff apparently discovered a small flaw in Roshan’s journalistically-pure strategy for handling celebrities, which is to ignore their publicists to write around them and use pick-up photos instead of staging shoots. The problem was that photo director Bradley Young couldn’t clear the rights to a shot of cover subject Jennifer Lopez, said a source close to the magazine. The final close dragged out an extra day as Young and Roshan scrambled to replace it with another, the source said.

Sources said that apart from yet-another J.Lo job, one of the premier issue’s centerpieces is “Monsters Inc.,” a compendium of some of the worst bosses in the business, including Martha Stewart and producer Scott Rudin. No word on whether Roshan’s old boss at Talk, Harvey Weinstein, is included, however.

Roshan denied a cover photo swap, and declined comment on the issue’s contents overall. “You’ll find out all about it when the magazine comes out,” he said. New Yorkers should expect that to happen around April 15; it will arrive on national newsstands a week later.

The launch issue will carry some advertising as well, thanks to the efforts of freelance publishers Larry Burstein and Elinore Carmody, who stepped in even before Roshan’s original team of Aaron Sigmond and George Brightman departed. Calvin Klein, Prada, and Oscar De La Renta are among the “high” in the ad equivalent of Radar’s “high-low” mix, with the latter being represented by Gap (the back cover), Target and Fox News, among others.

A MONKEYWRENCH FOR GEAR?: At press time, WWD learned that Gear magazine had laid off a significant portion of its staff. One Gear employee circulated an e-mail Monday afternoon describing the magazine as “temporarily suspending operations” and said it would close its offices. Founder and editor Bob Guccione Jr. said through his assistant, however, that the magazine would not be ceasing publication, but he did not comment on the layoffs. The magazine has had difficulties in the past and struggled to find a niche with advertisers. Writers also often complained about missed payments (one pitched a tent outside Guccione’s office and refused to leave until paid). There also have been production problems with recent issues. As reported, September’s issue did not reach newsstands until October, and the magazine’s next three issues were also over a month late.

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