MIN’S MOVE: Ultimately, it was all about the money. A few years ago, Us Weekly editor in chief Janice Min signed a contract worth approximately $2 million, but that deal is about to expire, and given the state of the publishing world, that kind of money wasn’t on the table this time around. While Us owner Jann Wenner asked Min to stay, in the end they couldn’t agree on a new salary number. Min told the title’s staff via e-mail late Monday that she would be leaving next week. Wenner will now hand the baton to a replacement, who will come at a fraction of what he was paying Min. “He thinks the star of Us Weekly is the magazine, not Janice,” said one celebrity weekly insider. “He thinks the magazine is a bigger star than Janice.”
But clearly Wenner is feeling Us’ pain. While Min has overseen a significant growth in newsstand sales and development of a successful Web site, the title, like all its competitors, is under severe pressure. Its first-half ad pages were down 10 percent; meanwhile, a spokesman claimed the rest of the industry was down 28 percent.
This story first appeared in the July 22, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Min on Tuesday denied the sources’ statements or that money was the reason she was leaving. “Those facts are entirely incorrect,” she said. Noting that she’s “done well” for herself in the paycheck department and that many probably consider her decision to leave to be “unconventional,” she said, “Money played a role in my decision only in that I’ve been fortunate to have been well paid for many years and now have the luxury to make this kind of decision.” She said she hasn’t figured out what she’ll do next, but doubts it will be in the magazine world. “I don’t think magazines are in my future,” Min said. “I would be surprised if I worked for another magazine. Us Weekly is the ultimate magazine experience. And I now have the freedom to talk to people and figure out what I’ll do next.”
Her decision to depart set off a flurry of speculation as to what she might do next — with some believing Min might already have another gig lined up. As to whether she might land in the new media or television worlds, many observers pointed out it won’t be easy. “Name me one magazine editor that has made the successful transition to television,” one said.
The equal question is who is going to take her place. Min said in her good-bye letter to staffers that Mike Steele is “interim editor in chief,” while a spokesman later told WWD that Steele is “acting editor in chief.” Specific titles aside, Min told WWD on Tuesday evening that she’d just had a conversation with Wenner, where she learned no search is under way for a replacement — implying Steele is Min’s successor. “Anyone that tells you otherwise is just trying to get some attention,” she noted.
One insider described Steele as “a very quiet magazine man that does what he’s told.” But as another put it, “Jann may keep this guy but wait two months — no one can get along with him [Wenner].”
As a result, media observers don’t believe a search isn’t taking place. Some names that have been mentioned as possible successors to Min include Los Angeles bureau chief Melanie Bromley; news director Lara Cohen, Dan Wakeford, editor in chief of Life & Style; In Touch editor in chief Richard Spencer; Peter Castro, at People; Nicola McCarthy, former editor in chief of British OK and Colleen Curtis, who formerly worked for Min.
One editor said Min was one of the few at Wenner that was able to “manage Jann well,” adding they didn’t fight too often and to that end, many were impressed with how Min managed her own staff. “You didn’t read any leaked items about her,” said another media observer. “The staff was very loyal.”
By Monday night, at least 10 staff members had posted Facebook messages that commented on how sad they were to see Min go. — Amy Wicks
BOYLE’S SONG: Susan Boyle is making headlines again, beginning with a stop on the “Today” show on Tuesday, and now, the Scottish singer soon will be seen in the pages of Harper’s Bazaar. A spokeswoman for Boyle confirmed there was a photo shoot and interview for the September issue, but declined to comment on where the shoot would be placed in the magazine. — Nina Jones