CONTRIBUTORS PAGE: Unlike Elizabeth Stewart, fashion editor at the New York Times Magazine, who reportedly is in trouble with management for donating $1,000 to John Kerry’s presidential campaign (neither Stewart nor Times execs could be reached for comment), glossy staffers can fill up campaign coffers without fear of reprisal. Whether or not they do is another story. With the July 29 deadline for contributing to Kerry fast approaching (contributions to George W. Bush are legal until the Republican National Convention convenes in New York on Sept. 2), the editorial staffs of Elle, W (like WWD, part of Advance Publications Inc.) and Harper’s Bazaar have yet to make a single donation to a political candidate. True, many fashion magazine staffers are underpaid and foreign born, but that didn’t stop In Style from contributing. Three people on the masthead donated money this year — fashion director Cynthia Weber Cleary ($250 to John Kerry), instyle.com editor Lisa Gabor ($250 to Joe Lieberman) and contributor Mary Peacock ($250 to the Democratic National Committee and $275 to Howard Dean, according to Fundrace.org a Web site that tracks campaign contributions through the Federal Election Commission). By comparison, Vogue (also owned by Advance) is a political hotbed. Vogue’s editorial team has collectively contributed $37,000 during the 2004 presidential race. Among the donations: editor in chief Anna Wintour gave $2,000 to John Kerry, contributing editor Anne Bass gave $25,000 to the DNC, and Paris bureau chief Susan Train gave $750 to Howard Dean and another $500 to Kerry. Though all the Vogue money went to Democrats, cries of journalistic bias are likely to go unheeded thanks to a (mostly) flattering feature on first twins Jenna and Barbara Bush in the August issue penned by senior writer Julia Reed.
Elsewhere in the glossy publishing world: Cynthia Leive (editor in chief of Glamour, also owned by Advance), Lesley Jane Seymour (editor in chief of Marie Claire) and Jann Wenner (chairman of Wenner Media), have all maxed out their possible $2,000 donations to the likely Democratic presidential nominee. Additional Kerry donations came from Gotham publisher Jason Binn ($500), New Yorker senior editor Hendrik Hertzberg ($900) and O editor in chief Amy Gross ($250). Kerry, who will be the keynote speaker at Redbook’s annual Mothers & Shakers luncheon this fall, also received $3,000 in contributions from members of the Hearst family, who own a controlling stake in the Hearst Corporation, which in turn owns Redbook magazine. A spokeswoman for the company told WWD, “We’ve never paid a keynote speaker.” Well, not directly at least. Meanwhile, Hearst Corp. chairman George R. Hearst Jr. recently gave $3,000 to the Republican National Committee and another $1,000 to reelect Bush, so checks and balances are still in place. — Sara James
This story first appeared in the July 23, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
G+J UNPLUGS INCUBATOR: Russell Denson knows what his immediate priorities are, and they don’t include starting magazines. Yesterday, the newly appointed chief executive officer of Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing said he was shutting down the company’s Editorial Special Projects Group, the unit responsible for incubating new magazine concepts. “Growth is crucial to a healthy, vital company, but a building must have a solid foundation before adding more stories,” Denson wrote in a companywide memo. The move will mean the departure of Susan Toepfer, the People veteran whose installation as editor of Rosie sparked the war with Rosie O’Donnell that ended up bringing down former G+J ceo Dan Brewster. Toepfer had been heading up the Special Projects Group since Rosie was shuttered in September 2002. The unit had not been terribly active since Brewster’s ouster last February, but as recently as late March WWD reported that work was proceeding on Flash, a magazine conceived as a competitor to Jane and Lucky and aimed at women in their 20s.
In other G+J news, Axel Ganz, president of G+J International, has been convicted of defamation by a Paris court and ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 euros to Elite Models. The case stemmed from a three-year-old article about a Ukrainian prostitution ring that appeared in the French magazine Capital. Ganz did not write the article, but French law holds the head of the company responsible in such cases. A G+J spokeswoman said the firm could not comment, as its lawyers had not yet received the ruling.
— Jeff Bercovici and Robert Murphy
BON CHANCE, BON VOYAGE: Condé Nast chief executive officer Chuck Townsend replaced the publisher of another flagging title yesterday, naming Leslie Picard vice president and publisher of Bon Appétit. Her predecessor, Lynn Heiler, is leaving the company. Picard, an eight-year veteran of Condé Nast, was previously vice president of corporate sales within the Condé Nast Media Group. Through July, Bon Appétit’s ad pages were off 8.3 percent, totaling 574.7, according to Media Industry Newsletter. Since becoming ceo in January, Townsend has made a number of big personnel changes. In April, he fired Glamour publisher Suzanne Grimes and replaced her with Bill Wackermann, formerly of Details. The following month, he moved Self publisher Beth Fuchs Brenner over to the company’s new home furnishings start-up, Domino, and appointed Kimberly Anderson Kelleher to replace her. Condé Nast is a unit of Advance Publications Inc., which is also the parent of WWD. — J.B.