DOMESTIC BLISS: It’s clear Martha Stewart did a lot of thinking in prison — not least about how to position her stay there once she got out. At a company-wide meeting-cum-press conference Monday, Stewart took her cues from Hillary Clinton, portraying her time away as a sort of extreme listening tour that helped her reconnect with the concerns of ordinary Americans.
The event attracted throngs of print and broadcast reporters, photographers and cameramen to the Chelsea headquarters of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, where tasteful mint-and-mocha-colored signs pointed the way to the auditorium. Arrayed around the stage like so many fresh-cut peonies were 450 or so Omnimedia employees, who responded with a full-throated standing ovation when Stewart appeared, clad in a dark brown jacket and skirt. (The much-discussed electronic ankle bracelet was nowhere to be seen.)
Without ever using the word “prison,” Stewart spoke of the past five months as a time of “profound life experiences” that had caused her to reconsider the company’s editorial direction. “Perhaps we focused too much on the ‘how-to’ and not enough on the ‘why’ of what we do,” she said. As a symbol of her newfound humility, she brandished the now-famous poncho that a fellow inmate crocheted for her. “Though it was stressful, very stressful, I can honestly say I don’t regret anything.”
Stewart concluded by saying, “I love all of you from the bottom of my heart and I’m really glad to be home.” The tearful sniff that punctuated this sentiment may have been heartfelt, but it was also vintage Martha — that is to say, almost too perfect. — Jeff Bercovici
LAGERFELD IN THE ART HOUSE: Art book publisher Powerhouse devotes an unusual six pages — plus the cover — of its spring 2005 catalogue to a diet book that’s already, gasp, two and a half years old. “The Karl Lagerfeld Diet” was originally published by German press Steidl in the fall of 2002. After Steidl’s U.S. distributor D.A.P. passed on the project, Powerhouse secured North American rights last fall, though clearly it’s not treating the property like reheated leftovers.
This story first appeared in the March 8, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The six-page spread in the catalogue sent to book buyers reads, “What smash diet book by a renowned clothing designer-photographer has sold some 200,000 copies worldwide?…What publishing house could possibly make the said diet book available to an eagerly anticipating U.S. market with panache, grace and willpower worthy of said designer?”
Daniel Power, Powerhouse’s editor in chief and publisher, said the blow-out promotion was indicative of a larger trend happening in the art book market right now. “I wouldn’t say the art book is dead,” he said, “but we have been trying to look more at the way photography relates to pop culture.” — Sara James
PREEMPTIVE STRIKE: It turns out the American Society of Magazine Publishers won’t have to decide how to chasten Atoosa Rubenstein for violating its guidelines. The Seventeen editor in chief is no longer affiliated with the group, having let her membership lapse several weeks ago.
As reported Friday, Rubenstein apparently stood to be censured by ASME for putting brand names and logos, including those of several advertisers, on the covers of recent issues of Seventeen. ASME guidelines prohibit such blurring of advertising and editorial content, especially on the cover. Notified of the violation, a Seventeen spokeswoman issued a statement that read, in part: “If what we are doing is in violation of ASME’s guidelines, perhaps it is time to reconsider whether they are still relevant and appropriate for all magazines.” (Oddly, she did not mention that Rubenstein was no longer a member, and thus no longer subject to ASME’s dictates.)
Dropping out gives Rubenstein the freedom to pursue the direction she has been heading with Seventeen, which, in addition to the cover shout-outs, also includes “storefront” logos that help readers match products featured on editorial pages to the appropriate retailers. While Rubenstein has maintained that such gestures are aimed exclusively at readers, detractors believe they have more to do with keeping advertisers happy. But Carol Apkarian, vice president of marketing at PacSun, said having her brand appear on the March issue’s cover was not necessarily something that would cause her to spend more dollars in Seventeen. “Editorial exposure in a magazine is always something we ask for, but it’s not a major decision maker as to whether we go in the magazine.” — J.B.
LONG WEEKEND: The steady trickle of employees out the door at The Source built to a torrent on Friday as staffers staged a walkout to protest not getting their paychecks. Managing editor Adila Francis, features editor Jerry L. Barrow, associate editor Thomas Golianopoulos and production manager Derrick Johnson were among those who left around lunchtime, according to a source with ties to the magazine. Staffers were told the delay in their direct deposits was caused by the company’s recent change of banks, and that they would be paid Monday. It was unclear as of Monday afternoon whether that happened, and whether all the employees who walked out returned to their jobs. No one from the magazine returned calls.
David Mays, The Source’s chief executive officer, was not on hand to finesse the situation, as he was in the Dominican Republic on Friday attending the taping of co-founder Raymond “Benzino” Scott’s new music video, according to the source. Predictably, this did not go over well with disgruntled Source employees. “With the kind of money problems they have, they should be shooting his video in Washington Heights,” quipped another insider. — J.B.
CARNAL SINS: First, he shot Lindsay Lohan with that suggestive pile of cherries for the October cover. Now, photographer Mark Seliger has apparently taken overexposed shots of another nubile actress, Jessica Alba, for the April cover of GQ. A spokeswoman for the magazine declined to release the new cover until next week, but those who’ve seen early proofs say the Alba image is entirely apt to promote her new film, “Sin City.” (Like WWD, GQ is part of Advance Publications Inc.) The April issue of GQ hits newsstands on March 22. — S.J.
MORE OF KIMORA: So how is Kimora Lee Simmons reacting to Nancy Jo Sales’ sensational portrait of her in the April issue of Vanity Fair? Surprisingly well.
Simmons spends a considerable amount of the 7,000-word piece threatening to inflict bodily harm on any woman who pursues her husband, Russell Simmons. She’s also quoted in a not-so-flattering light talking about his early infidelities, her current anorexia and expressing disdain for her own talk show, Sony Television’s “Life & Style.” (Vanity Fair, like WWD, is part of Advance Publications Inc.)
Despite the tawdry details divulged, the self-professed diva seems to be happy with the press. B.J. Coleman, public relations director for Simmons’ clothing line, Baby Phat, said his boss thought it was “a fun and honest portrayal, for the most part. As always, when someone does a profile, she was surprised by the ways some of her answers were quoted. Things are taken out of context and repeated unnecessarily, but for the most part, she liked the story.” — S.J.
MINUS TIMES: Executive editor Bill Keller finally weighed in on Monday about the changes afoot at The New York Times, sending a memo to the staff announcing the introduction of a “midweek cousin” to Sunday Styles, the dissolution of Circuits and additional tweaks to the Times’ Business section.
The new midweek styles section will make its debut April 14 and will encompass fashion, fitness, beauty and shopping, and, despite earlier reports, will absorb the paper’s regular Tuesday Metro fashion coverage. The “On-Line Shopper” component of Circuits, which will cease to exist as a stand-alone on March 24, also will be incorporated into the new section. An editor has not yet been named.
As for the Monday through Saturday Business coverage, Keller’s statement said the paper will be “adding space to give each day a secondary focus.” Thursday’s BizDay will house the bulk of technology reporting formerly packaged in Circuits. Monday’s focus will be media and marketing, and Saturday will be devoted to personal business. Those changes will start on May 5. — S.J.