FREY STILL HAS SOME FRIENDS: At least one character in James Frey‘s second memoir, “My Friend Leonard,” exists in real life, precisely as described. It’s Bella, Frey’s pit bull, who was recently photographed with the embattled author and his other pooch, Preacher, for the March issue of Absolute.
The magazine quotes Frey describing his dogs, saying: “[Preacher’s] like a model — very, very handsome and very, very happy…but not smart. Bella, though — she’s like a little girl, very intuitive.” (Frey would know — he has a one-year-old daughter, who, he said, often cuddles with the “intuitive” pit bull.)
The shoot took place before the veracity of his first memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” was attacked on The Smoking Gun’s Web site on Jan. 9. Absolute’s photo editor, Catherine Talese, who is the daughter of Nan Talese, the publisher of both of Frey’s books, arranged it. While Absolute’s interview with Frey was conducted in advance of the scandal, the magazine’s editors decided to reopen the piece and acknowledge the controversy after Frey’s second appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” Thursday. The story now reads, “Bella and Preacher snore at Frey’s feet while the writer sits in his Village apartment sweating over a new book about L.A., a Hell’s Angels film, a Fox pilot, the film version of ‘A Million Little Pieces’ and various allegations on The Smoking Gun.”
On Friday, over e-mail, Absolute editor in chief Andrew Essex quipped, “We fact-checked [our story]! Even the dogs were queried.” He added, “I have not read either book. I recall the manuscript was circulated when I was at Details, but we passed. After all, we already had Augustin Burroughs. One self-aggrandizing 12-stepper is more than enough.”
— Sara James
MAXIM MINIMIZES: Dennis Publishing always has prided itself on its very British practice of operating with staffing levels leaner than is usual for U.S. magazines. The company got even more British recently when it laid off a number of employees from Maxim and Blender. A Dennis spokesman confirmed the cuts included Blender senior writer Clark Collis and associate photo editor Tom Payne, as well as two business-side staffers at Maxim. Collis, described as a “catch-all writer,” will be especially hard to replace, according to two former co-workers: “He wrote so much of the book, it will be hard to imagine how they get it done now,” said one.
This story first appeared in the January 30, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
So far, the newest round of layoffs has yet to reach Maxim’s editorial side, or the staff of Stuff. But ever since “Black Friday,” the day in September 2004 when 15 people, including several executives, were fired, job eliminations have continued at a slow but steady pace. The Dennis spokesman said there were no further cuts planned, and noted the workforce still numbers “well over 200” — but that’s down from 275, pre-Black Friday. One recent departure that surprised even Dennis insiders was that of Maxim entertainment director Aric Webb, a close friend of editorial director Andy Clerkson.
— Jeff Bercovici
BONNIE BOOK HAS TRUTHINESS: Like other celebrity weeklies, Star magazine has been known on occasion to publish a claim that doesn’t stand the test of time. But when it came to writing the story of her own life, don’t expect Star editorial director Bonnie Fuller to turn out to be another James Frey. “I didn’t have to embellish anything,” she said. And, no, her publisher, Simon & Schuster, didn’t insist on fact-checking all of her anecdotes after Frey’s distortions became a full-blown media obsession.
In point of fact, Fuller’s book, “The Joys of Much Too Much: Go for the Big Life — The Great Career, The Perfect Guy, and Everything Else You’ve Ever Wanted (Even If You’re Afraid You Don’t Have What It Takes)” — is less memoir than advice book. The cover, meanwhile, places it firmly in the chick-lit genre; the illustration is the work of Donald Robertson, a longtime friend of Fuller’s who worked with her at Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and YM, and is now creative director of Cargo.
Fuller recently spoke to a group of students at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, an invitation she accepted, in part, because she hoped to attract recruits to her magazines. The evening was a success, she reported: “I walked away with one envelope with a résumé inside and many other promises.”
Fuller has been busy recruiting elsewhere, as well: She just hired Chris Kensler from OK, where he was entertainment director, to be co-executive editor of Celebrity Living.
ANNA DOES ORLANDO: Anna Wintour is taking a break from launching spin-offs to give a speech about launching spin-offs. The Vogue editor in chief will be in Orlando, Fla., in early March to give an address at the annual retail conference held jointly by the Magazine Publishers of America and the International Periodical Distributors Association. Wintour’s topic will be keeping established brands fresh and vital; she’ll draw from her experience starting Teen Vogue and Men’s Vogue. Other headliners at the conference will include Martha Stewart, who will talk about the launch of her new lifestyle title, Blueprint, and Jane Fonda.