MR. WATSON, I PRESUME: At 67, lensman Albert Watson is going full guns and this fall will be no exception. The photographer, who has an ongoing gig with Rolling Stone, directs commercials and shoots incessantly, has inked a deal with Blackwell Publishers for two books. One has the working title of “UFO,” as in “Unified Fashion Objects,” which will spotlight various covers he did for Vogue and other Condé Nast fashion magazines in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties. The other tome is tentatively being called “Strip Searched,” and draws from the many shots he captured in his Las Vegas series.
Aaron Watson, who serves as an agent and manager for his father’s fine art photography, noted that his father’s career was established in fashion — shooting 200 covers for Vogue alone — but it has never been confined to the land of models, mannequins and magazines.
This story first appeared in the September 11, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Now what has happened over time is that what once appeared in magazines has become art,” Aaron Watson said. “When [Irving] Penn and [Richard] Avedon were working [years ago], the people viewing their work in magazines never imagined they would one day be on gallery walls.”
To that end, Milan’s Forma Galleria will unveil a retrospective of Albert Watson’s work Sept. 17 that will run through Jan. 3. And the Brooklyn Museum of Art will spotlight him in “Who Shot Rock,” which opens Oct. 30. An image of Mick Jagger superimposed on a leopard’s face and a series of splintered images of Michael Jackson dancing up a storm will be among the Watson selections in the show. The latter, which is 60 by 90 inches, was pulled by BMA long before the musician’s death, Aaron Watson said. Phillips de Pury stands to cash in on all this renewed interest in Watson’s work with a November sale at the New York auction house.
— Rosemary Feitelberg
THE BUSINESSWEEK BIDDING: Bloomberg has emerged as a late bidder for BusinessWeek, according to sources close to the process. Bids are due early next week and a deal could come together by the end of the year, said sources. Some believe the business title, owned by McGraw-Hill Cos., could be sold for as little as $1, while others place the deal at upward of $30 million — with both scenarios including the assumption of debt and other considerations that could push the final price up. Still, some media observers wonder whether the magazine will eventually turn into a Web-only play. As WWD reported, bidders still in the running include OpenGate Capital, owner of TV Guide; Platinum Equity; Bruce Wasserstein, owner of New York Magazine; Mansueto Ventures, parent of Fast Company, and ZelnickMedia.
— Amy Wicks
REMEMBERING DOMINICK DUNNE: Some careers require a certain kind of togetherness — becoming a doctor, lawyer or stockbroker, for instance. One of the great things about becoming a writer is that failure can be a fantastic springboard. On Thursday, Dominick Dunne — a man who did not become a star as a writer until his mid-50s — had his memorial at Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer, and many pointed to what Tina Browne termed his “checkered past,” which made him a keen observer of human nature and society.
His son, Griffin, recalled an incident that took place while having lunch with Dominick in Sheridan Square back in the early Eighties. At the time, Dominick was down on his luck, living in a tiny apartment nearby. They ate outdoors and Griffin was surprised to see a number of people in hairnets and boys in high heels come up to his father to thank him for his pearls of wisdom.
When Griffin asked his father how he knew all those people, he said “the rooms,” in an apparent reference to Alcoholics Anonymous.
His granddaughter, Hannah Dunne, sang “My Funny Valentine.” Apparently, every year she received a bouquet from a secret admirer. She always knew it was her “poppy.”
And Liz Smith told a story about how the man — always good at wiggling his way into the most exclusive clubs — even arranged prior to his death to get himself buried at a cemetery in Hadlyme, Conn., where almost no one could get in.
Others in the crowd were George Hamilton and Marie Brenner.
— Jacob Bernstein
CANDACE’S NEW GIG: Just because NBC canceled “Lipstick Jungle,” based on Candace Bushnell’s book, that doesn’t mean the author is done with lipstick just yet. Bushnell’s new series of Webisodes, “The Broadroom,” produced for More magazine’s Web site, also happen to be sponsored by Maybelline. (Its presence is seen, but unnamed, in a bathroom scene, when a character wonders to another woman when lipstick started being named after food. “Probably when food became more interesting than sex,” replies the other character, played by Jennie Garth. The show was filmed at More publisher Meredith’s Manhattan offices.) At a launch party at Fred’s at Barneys New York, the show’s name was scrawled on mirrors in lipstick, and lipsticks were stacked in vases. Cocktails were, of course, named after Maybelline lipsticks.
Bushnell told WWD she watched YouTube videos to try to familiarize herself with what she called the intimacy of the Internet video form — for example, characters talking directly to the camera — and how Web viewers have a more active relationship with the material, with comments and links. Live by the sword, die by the sword: Popular women’s site Jezebel.com wasn’t thrilled with the result, with writer Latoya Peterson commenting Wednesday: “As I watched this new venture-product placement…I felt myself wanting to bash my head against the wall.”
— Irin Carmon
BEAUTY BASH: Allure Best of Beauty is usually a big night for beauty industry executives. For one, attendees walk out with a swag suitcase full of shampoos, eye creams and blow-dryers. But publisher Agnes Chapski said this year’s event at New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center focused more on celebrating the industry and the winning products Allure editors deemed worthy of the magazine’s seal of approval — no Grammy-winning performers serenaded the crowd. That doesn’t mean the gift bag suffered: Despite the recession, the bag was the largest to date, with $3,500 worth of products.
— Stephanie D. Smith