TOM’S NEW DEAL: On Tuesday, word broke that Tom Ford would be getting his first movie, “A Single Man,” distributed by the Weinstein Co. Said to have been in on the hunt (and perhaps bidding against Harvey Weinstein’s company) were Focus Features and Summit, though Nikki Finke reported on her newly named Deadline.com blog Wednesday that Weinstein was the only one to have made a formal offer. In the end, it went for a reported $1 million to $2 million.
Whatever the behind the scenes were, Weinstein could not have sounded more excited about acquiring the film when he spoke about it with WWD on Wednesday afternoon outside the Marchesa presentation in West Chelsea. (His wife, Georgina Chapman, is the label’s co-founder and designer.) “I’ve known Tom 10 years and he’s extraordinary,” Weinstein said. “And I am happy to say that I am one of the first people who told him and Bryan Lourd [Ford’s agent and longtime friend] that I thought he’d make a great director, and we even talked about doing something together.”
Further, he said anyone who was expecting some sort of on-screen design piece without emotion was going to be caught off guard by the seriousness and depth of the material.
“This is a deeply personal work, and I think people who were expecting one thing are going to be pleasantly surprised at how good the performances are, how deeply felt the material is, and the way that Tom wrote the dialogue and adapted the Christopher Isherwood novel,” Weinstein said.
He concluded: “I think the movie has tremendous Oscar potential. Wouldn’t it be great to see Tom Ford at the Oscars? It’d be one of the best-looking Oscars ever.”
— Jacob Bernstein
SAME STORY, DIFFERENT DAY: For the fifth consecutive quarter, ad spending was on the decline, with expenditures off 13.9 percent during the second quarter and 14.3 percent for the first half. “The rate of decline in ad spending was level throughout the second quarter,” said Jon Swallen, senior vice president research at TNS Media Intelligence. “While it’s tempting to interpret this as a positive indicator that things aren’t getting worse, the fact remains that the market has been steadily tracking at around 14 percent declines for several consecutive months, and this represents billions of lost revenue.”
In the magazine sector, advertising fell 20.9 percent, while newspaper ad expenditures dropped 24.2 percent. Internet proved once again to be one of the few bright spots, with display ads up 6.5 percent during the first half.
As for ad categories, automotive companies continued to pull back on spending, dropping 31.1 percent during the first half, followed by financial services, falling 24.3 percent, and a 18 percent decline in miscellaneous retail. Ads for personal care products fell 9.7 percent and travel and tourism was down 15.3 percent.
Verizon Communications edged out Procter & Gamble to claim the top spot in ad spending, up 3.1 percent to $1.18 billion for the first half. P&G’s ad spending dropped 20 percent during the period, to $1.17 billion, followed by AT&T, which increased spending by 6.3 percent to $976 million. Johnson & Johnson increased spending by 18 percent to $805 million, while General Motors decreased advertising by 25.9 percent to $773 million and News Corp. was down 6.9 percent to $672 million. Sprint Nextel Corp.’s ad spend shot up 55 percent to $631 million, followed by 11 percent decline at Time Warner, to $574 million. General Electric increased advertising by 5 percent to $548 million and Walt Disney Co., ended the period down 11.7 percent to $517 million.
— Amy Wicks
WASPS, WITHOUT THE STING: By its literal but imprecise definition, even Elvis Presley and Bill Clinton are Wasps, as New Yorker staff writer Tad Friend notes in his memoir, “Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor,” though he eventually decides he is “too cheap to spring for a new acronym.” At the book party at the Waverly Inn on Tuesday evening, a different set of “awesomely white” people (in the words of one partygoer) pondered their own identities.
“When he took me out to talk about the book, I said, ‘I’m not really a Wasp,’” said co-host Kurt Andersen. “And he said, ‘Yeah, that’s what everybody I interviewed said.’” Andersen, who was raised in Nebraska, conceded, “If the spectrum is Elvis to Tad, I guess I can be somewhere on that spectrum.” Vanity Fair editor in chief and co-host Graydon Carter, a Canadian and noted enthusiast of certain aspects of Wasp culture, said Wasps exist north of the border, but that “the Canadian version is much more maple syrup and checked shirts.”
Not everyone could relate. “For me, it’s as foreign a subject as for Margaret Mead studying Trobriand Islanders. Who lives like this?” said New Yorker editor David Remnick, also a co-host. (The fourth co-host was New Yorker articles editor Susan Morrison.) “I’m one of the Jews that Tad murmurs to, but never like this,” said Remnick, quoting from memory a line from Friend’s original New Yorker essay on his mother, about Wasps spending an awful lot of time murmuring to Jews — psychotherapists, mostly. “Nothing that he’d written before would have prepared me for this,” Remnick continued. “I didn’t know what Wasps looked like naked. At least, not since college.”
Speaking of which, though the book is mostly a sharp-eyed analysis of Wasp culture and a sensitive exploration of family relationships, some readers came away remembering one thing in particular: sex. “Someone just told me that apparently I was having way more sex than they gave me credit for,” said Friend, who is now married to New York Times food writer Amanda Hesser, over the din. Carter was also in that camp. “I never thought of him in this way, and I don’t think I’m alone in that,” he said. “I always thought he showered in a trenchcoat.”
— Irin Carmon
A GRAZIA COUP: While most magazines’ September issues have markedly downsized this year, as the tough economic times take their toll on advertising, the U.K. edition of the weekly fashion title Grazia appears to be bucking the trend. Earlier this week, the Bauer-owned title published the biggest issue in its four-year history, at 196 pages, 88 of which are ads. Bauer said that was a 25 percent increase on the title’s previous largest issue, a 172-page issue published last September.
Advertisers in the current Sept. 21 issue, billed as a fashion special to coincide with London Fashion Week, include Gucci, Tod’s, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Jimmy Choo and Max Mara. There are also ads by mass and supermarket brands including Tesco’s F&F clothing brand, Matalan and Maybelline.
However, the magazine’s circulation hasn’t escaped the recession completely unscathed. Grazia’s “actively purchased” circulation figure, which includes newsstand sales and single-copy subscriptions, fell 2 percent to 218,302 in the six months to June, while its total average circulation inched up 0.7 percent to 228,694 during the period.
— Nina Jones