AWARDS, PLEASE: Third time’s a charm for Glamour vice president and publisher William Wackermann. The executive was given the Publisher of the Year award from Condé Nast Publications chief executive officer Chuck Townsend Tuesday night during dinner at the annual publishers’ meeting. Wackermann had been passed over for the top honors two years in a row, losing out to Vogue publishing director Tom Florio and Lucky vice president and publisher Gina Sanders (who was publisher of Teen Vogue two years ago). Wackermann earlier this year received a promotion to senior vice president, publishing director, with additional oversight of Condé Nast’s Bridal Group. Glamour’s ad pages grew 11 percent to 2,090 last year, boosted in part by the magazine’s large marketing programs Reel Moments, Reel Music and Reel Docs.
Townsend also gave performance honors to several other publishers and magazine teams for their ad page strength in 2007 — a platinum award to Vanity Fair and vice president and publisher Edward Menicheschi; gold to Glamour and Wackermann; silver to Vogue and Florio; and a bronze award to Condé Nast Traveler and vice president and publisher Lisa Hughes. — Stephanie D. Smith
This story first appeared in the January 30, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
FISH OR FOUL?: The awards weren’t the only big news to come out of the Condé Nast publishers’ meeting: Richard Beckman will never eat fish again. The Condé Nast Media Group president thought he was going to have an uneventful dinner with colleagues Monday night at the meeting in Palm Beach, Fla. Instead, he ended up in the hospital. Beckman was dining on a fillet of red snapper when a bone got lodged in his throat. “It was really scary,” said Beckman, who coughed out the bone. “When you’re looking down at your hands and they’re covered in blood, it’s scary,” he added in graphic understatement. Tom Florio, Vogue’s senior vice president and publishing director, accompanied Beckman to the hospital, where technicians examined him, took X-rays and released him within an hour. Beckman gave his presentation to Condé executives on Tuesday afternoon, and laughed about the incident afterward. “It’s amazing the lengths that my competitors will go to,” he joked. Monday’s accident wasn’t the first time Beckman has bitten off more than he can chew — around the time he was named publisher of Vogue, he choked on a sole bone while eating at The Four Seasons. “I’m eating steak from now on,” he declared. But, presumably, he’s still being circled by sharks. — S.D.S.
FOR HILL, SORT OF: “Often bad, but surprisingly important.” That was the assessment of Atlantic national correspondent James Fallows, speaking of State of the Union speeches in general. Having written some himself as chief speechwriter for former President Jimmy Carter, he would know. Monday night’s State of the Union was at least symbolically important, being President George W. Bush’s last, and when Fallows noted that fact to the assorted media and cultural elites at the Atlantic’s dinner at the Plaza that night, they did not abstain from claps and whoops. (The event was billed as featuring “100 New Yorkers,” so the guest seated at number 101 balefully concluded he was an afterthought — even if there were several other “afterthoughts” beside him.) It could not be learned whether the few Republicans, who seemed to be clustered around Georgette Mosbacher, were as enthusiastic about Bush’s exit, and Fallows was diplomatic: “I report, you decide,” he said from the podium.
Fallows tried valiantly to spark discussion among politically credentialed diners, with some relevance (Slate editor Jacob Weisberg, for example, just published “The Bush Tragedy”) and some awkwardness (Alexandra Kerry, carefully worded, on the man who beat her father, and former congressman Rick Lazio — who, for those unaware, is alive and well in the private sector).
Diners — among them Charlie Rose, Tina Brown and Sir Harry Evans, Andy Borowitz and a few Rockefellers and Roosevelts — were asked to vote on their preferences and expectations in the primary and general election. Brown, who has signed on to write a book about Bill and Hillary Clinton and will be honored today with a lifetime achievement award from the Magazine Publishers of America, raised her hand in support of Hillary Clinton but, when it came to who she thought would actually win, opted for John McCain. She said she was still considering how to report out her book — as in her book on Princess Diana, Brown faces a mountain of existing volumes. “That’s what I like about it,” she said. “The literature about them becomes part of the story.” — Irin Carmon
DELUXE MOVE: Portfolio has hired its first European correspondent. Dana Thomas, Newsweek’s Paris-based European fashion and culture writer, will join the magazine on Friday. Thomas leaves Newsweek after 12 years at the magazine, and has contributed to The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, The New York Times Magazine and The Washington Post during her career. The author’s name has become familiar thanks to her best-selling book, “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster,” which takes a critical (and some luxury executives insist inaccurate) look at the business of high-end retailing. Thomas wasn’t invited to October’s Louis Vuitton show during Paris Fashion Week because chief executive Yves Carcelle was upset by her critique of LVMH chief Bernard Arnault. “He said, ‘I don’t like that you compared the company to McDonald’s,'” Thomas explained to WWD. “I didn’t say it was like McDonald’s as a product, but like McDonald’s in that your label is one of the most recognizable in the world.” Thomas said she and Carcelle have since mended their relationship, but she will not be at this year’s Vuitton show — or any shows in New York or Europe — because she will continue her book tour in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Australia. — S.D.S.
GETTING TO KNOW THEM: Tina Gaudoin was at the Wall Street Journal’s offices Tuesday for some preliminary meetings about the glossy magazine she will launch and edit there, but she’ll return to London before permanently relocating.
While plans remain somewhat in flux, some details are emerging about the project. The name Pursuits was previously bandied about publicly, but “it has always been a working title,” said a spokesman. The magazine will launch as a quarterly in September and appear again in December.
“The current plan is to go monthly beginning in 2009,” wrote the magazine’s associate publisher Jamie Friedman Altschul in an e-mail to advertising staff. “However, that decision has not been finalized.” Friedman Altschul said 25 advertisers have signed on for the launch issue, although the spokesman declined to name them.
Gaudoin, through the spokesman, said staffing for the magazine has yet to be determined, but it will probably comprise a mix of freelancers, internal contributions and a few hires.
As for Luxx, the quarterly supplement of The Times of London that Gaudoin launched last fall, it has only had one issue so far. It has headlines like “What Money Can Buy…,” including a year’s supply of Bacca roses for $40,000 and a Malmaison diamond cutlery set for $400,000. There’s a column by Sophie Dahl, a spread on the Tag Heuer Grand Carrera steel watch, a profile of Paloma Picasso, a feature on luxury handbags and one on how to purchase a tiara, this season’s must-have accessory.
Advertisers in the launch issue included Jimmy Choo, Chanel, Prada, Cartier, Dior, Tag Heuer, Versace, Dom Perignon and Range Rover.
In the London media and fashion communities, Luxx has often been compared with the Financial Times’ long-running “How To Spend It” section, sometimes unfavorably. A London editor said of Luxx: “It was clearly an idea that came out of The Times’ ad side. Like so many fashion supplements out there, it’s a way for advertisers to talk to other advertisers — not to readers.”
As for Gaudoin herself: “She’s an extremely exacting editor, very hardworking, sparky and bright,” said Harriet Quick, fashion features director at British Vogue, who worked with Gaudoin on the ill-fated women’s magazine Frank. “She’s got a proper hack mentality, and she fights hard to get the stories she wants.” Others were less positive — some former colleagues called her difficult, and said her nickname is “Tina Tantrum.”
The Journal’s upcoming supplement is seen both as a bid for luxury advertising and, more broadly, female readers, an effort the paper has pursued by expanding its “Business of Life” sections in recent years. Since 2004, the Journal’s audience of women has grown by 5.6 percent, to 1,024,000 readers, or 32 percent of the total readership, according to the Mendelsohn Affluent Head of Household Survey. — WWD Staff
TIME OUT: Time Out New York editor in chief Brian Farnham has given up his post to join an unnamed Internet start-up. Replacing him will be deputy editor Michael Freidson, who will take over Feb. 15 and report to editorial director Elizabeth Barr. Farnham joined the magazine in May 2006 and brought Freidson to the magazine last January. As for where Farnham is headed, he only had this to say in a statement: “I can’t say much about it right now except that it’s an incredibly big, exciting idea.” — S.D.S.