FIRING AND HIRING: Roughly 25 Bloomberg BusinessWeek staffers were let go Thursday, as the magazine preps for a redesign and irons out redundancies within parent Bloomberg LP, which purchased the weekly business title from McGraw-Hill last October. In addition, between 10 and 15 positions are being shifted from BusinessWeek over to Bloomberg News; staffers reassigned to the news service will continue to write for the magazine.
This is the second wave of layoffs at BusinessWeek (which cut about 30 percent of its staff in November), but the first under Bloomberg’s official ownership. This time around, the art and photo departments were said to be hit hardest — unsurprising given editor in chief Josh Tyrangiel’s recently unveiled plans for an inside-and-out redesign of the magazine, where ad pages have declined 20 percent, to 158 pages, year to date, according to Media Industry Newsletter. The “new” BusinessWeek will make its debut April 23.
This story first appeared in the March 12, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Among those laid off in the editorial department were senior writers Tom Lowry, who wrote about media and entertainment, and Michelle Conlin, who, ironically, covered the labor market and work culture.
“We are more deeply integrating our editorial team with Bloomberg’s, one of the world’s largest news organizations,” said a BusinessWeek spokesman. “As a result, there are some job redundancies, as well as areas that we will be strengthening through new hires.” To this end, sources speculated the magazine will make somewhere in the range of 10 to 15 hires in the coming months.
— Nick Axelrod
FILLING IN: Beth Brenner, former vice president and publisher of Domino, has found a temporary role at Reader’s Digest. Eva Dillon, president of RD Community, has hired Brenner to assist during the maternity leave of associate publisher Heddy Pierson, who just gave birth to twin girls. Perhaps she’s hoping Pierson doesn’t return?
— Amy Wicks
DR. RUTH ASKS: When former Self magazine editor in chief Alexandra Penney lost her life savings to Bernie Madoff, she didn’t waste time bemoaning the financial loss or joining a Madoff support group. That’s too Old School. Instead, she began blogging about the experience for The Daily Beast and writing a book, called “The Bag Lady Papers.” “It wasn’t cathartic at all,” Penney said on Wednesday evening during a conversation with Departures editor in chief Richard David Story. “I needed the advance.”
It was Penney’s psychiatrist who suggested she invest with Madoff, but she bears no ill will toward the doctor. “I love him,” she said. “He didn’t mean me any harm.” Penney never met Madoff, but has come in contact with his former longtime secretary, Eleanor Squillari, who is now a manicurist. “I truly believe she didn’t know anything,” Penney noted.
Curiously, Dr. Ruth Westheimer was in the audience, and she peppered Penney with questions about why she kept her money with Madoff and if she asked for references for the financier. No one was quite sure how Dr. Ruth found out about the event — perhaps she’d heard about Penney’s previous book, “How to Make Love to a Man.” Or maybe, as one attendee noted, it had something to do with Penney’s hobby of photographing plastic blow-up sex dolls.
SONG AND DANCE MAN: For the past year, Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at T: The New York Times Style Magazine, has been occupied with a second job: designing the costumes for the upcoming Broadway revival of “Promises, Promises.” With no formal training in the craft, the editor has created about 150 costumes — all custom-made — for the splashy musical starring Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes.
“I did a ton of research — I’ve been buried in the Condé Nast library and also watching a lot of old ‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘Dick Van Dyke,’” said Pask of gleaning the looks for the Sixties-era show, based on the classic Billy Wilder film “The Apartment.” “We wanted to make this a chic show, but grounded in reality.” With the show’s Neil Simon-penned book revolving around a cast of philandering insurance company executives, the “Promises, Promises” guys sport “Mad Men”-esque slim suits, and the women don pencil skirts and party frocks in jewel tones. “It’s such an elegant period,” noted Pask, highlighting a holiday office party scene — and the memorable “Turkey Lurkey” number by Burt Bacharach — as a sartorial high point in the production.
Director Rob Ashford tapped Pask for the costume designer role following a serendipitous run-in on the street. But Pask isn’t a total novice to the theater: he’s previously designed costumes for a Broadway revival of Noël Coward’s “Design For Living” and a Williamstown, Mass., production of Harold Pinter’s “The Dumb Waiter,” both in 2001. The latter show was in collaboration with his identical twin brother, Scott Pask, a veteran set designer who has won two Tony awards for his Broadway work.
Among the producers of “Promises, Promises” are Candy Spelling and The Weinstein Co. Previews for the show kick off March 27, with the official opening on April 25.
— David Lipke
VIENNA CALLING: Anja Rubik and Sasha Knezevic launched the new-look Austrian magazine 25 in Paris earlier this week. “It’s been such an experience and a real challenge. We have done everything,” said Knezevic. The models-turned-editors are now working on the next edition of the quarterly. “One of our contributors will be Julia Restoin-Roitfeld,” noted Rubik. Advertisers in the 192-page spring issue include Giuseppe Zanotti and Giorgio Armani. There are two issues of the magazine, a limited edition English version that will have a circulation of around 2,000, and a German edition with a print run of 50,000. “It’s an Austrian magazine so it was important to keep a link between the first issue and Austria,” said Rubik, explaining the fashion pages were inspired by artists Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. Contributors include photographer Victor Demarchelier, actress Joy Bryant and architect Bettina Zerza. The magazine includes an interview with Beyoncé Knowles and an abundance of couture garb. “It is rare to get so many couture clothes in a magazine,” said Rubik. The cover price of the magazine is 4.50 euros, or about $6 at current exchange.
— Natasha Montrose