EXAMINING THE NEGATIVES: Need some fuzzy photos of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie frolicking? Hold out for a few weeks — the price is falling fast. To obtain first rights to a series showing the alleged lovebirds house-hunting in France, Us Weekly paid photo agency Bauer-Griffin around $150,000, according to sources at several celebrity magazines that took part in the auction. (A Wenner Media source disputed that figure, insisting the actual price was under $100,000.) While that may sound like a lot of money, it’s substantially less than the $200,000 People is said to have laid out two weeks ago for a series showing the pair romping in a meadow with Jolie’s son. And it’s quite a bit lower than the reported $500,000 Us paid back in April to get the first photos of them as a “couple.”
Have Brad and Angelina exhausted their commercial potential, paparazzi-wise? Not quite yet, said Mark Pasetsky, general manager of Life & Style. “We’ve seen them several times now with Maddox [Jolie’s son], presenting this family-type scenario,” he said. “When you see the first picture of Brad kissing Angelina, that’ll be a big deal.”
Us had better hope that moment doesn’t occur on private property or on the freeway. The magazine recently vowed not to buy photos that were obtained by trespassing or breaking traffic laws. This has resulted in some positive p.r. for the title, but critics, including Pasetsky, say Us is still encouraging “stalkerazzi” tactics by helping to inflate prices overall. “Us is the cause behind the paparazzi mayhem, and they’re making everything worse, not better, for celebrities,” he claimed. Us had no comment.
— Jeff Bercovici
GIVE ‘EM THE SLIP: Domino has had a respectable showing its first time out. Well, on the Hudson anyway.
The Manhattan Sailing School, located on the North Cove Marina in Manhattan and sponsored by Condé Nast, finished up its spring competition last week. After seven weeks on the water, the boat sailing under the new Domino flag came in second out of 17 boats in the Wednesday Series race days. (Only Glamour bested it. Condé Nast, Domino and Glamour are, like WWD, part of Advance Publications Inc.) While some Condé Nast employees may be part of the school, it is open to the general public and the boats aren’t manned by magazine staffers.
This story first appeared in the July 8, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Domino’s editor in chief, Deborah Needleman, who didn’t even know she had a boat, said, “I think if you go on CondéNet, Domino’s not even on there yet. Or it wasn’t for a while. And they remembered to give us a boat?” Needleman added that her personal sailing career was curtailed in high school. “I crashed a sailboat into some angry Frenchmen in Haiti. It was a catamaran. I was 17.”
Last summer, the MSS boat bearing The New Yorker flag experienced similar troubles when its crew attempted to sail the wrong way around Liberty Island and ran aground. This year, though, the school’s commodore, Michael Fortenbaugh, said it’s been smooth sailing so far, thanks in part to a recent refurbishing of a portion of the fleet. Fortenbaugh is also celebrating because Frenchman Francis Joyon just broke the single-handed trans-Atlantic crossing record after leaving from North Cove. Joyon made the journey in just over six days, passing the finish line just off the English coast on Wednesday morning, beating the previous record by a day. “If I could get on a plane and fly to France to congratulate him, I would,” said Fortenbaugh.
The summer racing series for the MSS fleet begins next week.
— Sara James
NEW OWNER, SAME OLD STORY: You can take the magazines out of G+J, but you can’t take the G+J out of the magazines — at least not easily. In a footnote to the well-documented circulation problems at Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing, Fitness, one of the five titles acquired by Meredith Corp. in May, stands to be cited for inaccurate circulation reporting. An audit covering the first half of 2004 found that the title’s claimed circulation of 1,593,893 was overstated by just over 2 percent — the cutoff for inclusion on the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ variance report. The discrepancy was mainly the result of about 32,000 subscriptions that were initially reported as paid but later reclassified as nonpaid. The subscriptions were among those supplied to G+J by Publishers Communications Services, a subscription agency that G+J ended up suing for fraud and breach of contract. Fitness publisher Katherine Rizzuto noted that the title, after writing off the questionable subscriptions, still made its rate base of 1.5 million with room to spare. “We proactively took the discount,” she said. “We’re basically just showing all our cards.”