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BOOSTING SALES: Oprah Winfrey’s media blitz around her weight gain helped to boost single-copy sales of her magazine to over 1.1 million in January, the best-selling issue of O, The Oprah Magazine in three years. Winfrey utilized nearly every media property she owned to promote her “Best Life Week,” a special five-day guide to improving health, finances and relationships in the new year with advice from Oprah’s “friends” Suze Orman, Dr. Mehmet Oz and others. “Best Life Week” also lived on her Web site, oprah.com, and on her satellite radio show, and was promoted heavily in the January issue. The event began with the Jan. 5 episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” where Winfrey candidly discussed her disappointment in losing control of her weight. That played off of a revealing personal essay in the January issue, where she explained how she gained back 40 pounds in four years. Winfrey appeared on the cover as a before and after image of herself asking the question, “How did I let this happen again?” The cover and the story were picked up by media outlets across the country leading up to the launch of “Best Life Week.”
This story first appeared in the February 2, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
AMI’S NEW DEAL: Following months of missed deadlines and extensions, American Media Inc., publishers of Star, Shape and the National Enquirer, has completed a financial restructuring that gives bondholders 95 percent of the company’s common stock and eliminates the near-term threat of a Chapter 11 filing for bankruptcy protection.
“This is a major step forward for American Media,” said David Pecker, American Media’s chief executive officer. “We now have the capital structure in place to strategically, financially and operationally fully realize the potential of our brands.” The deal was first reported in Sunday’s New York Post. The company’s debt has also been reduced by $227 million. Bondholders who previously lent upwards of $600 million are now signing on for more than $300 million in new debt that will mature in 2013.
— Amy Wicks
BOODRO DEPARTS: Just a day after Martha Stewart was inducted into the Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame, editor in chief Michael Boodro “stepped down” from Martha Stewart Living. Gawker.com reported Boodro was laid off, and sources close to the company said Stewart wasn’t happy with the February issue. Boodro — who injected a livelier, more approachable tone to some of the magazine’s stories on home decor and crafts — will be replaced by Gael Towey, the founding art director of the magazine who, since 2005, has served as chief creative officer. Boodro told WWD that his last day is Friday, allowing him to close the April Issue. He noted that he has a few projects in the works and will probably do some freelance writing. Before joining Martha Stewart Living, Boodro was the editor in chief of Culture & Travel.
According to Audit Bureau of Circulations’ Rapid Report, for the last six months of 2008, Martha Stewart Living sold an average of 326,922, compared to 271,544 copies sold during the first half of the year. Boodro is just the latest high-profile editor to leave the company; it was only a few weeks ago that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia replaced the editor in chief of Everyday Food, Debra Puchalla, with Anna Last, formerly senior style editor at Real Simple.
PARTY CONTINUES: The New Yorker is going to extend its New Yorker Festival to 10 days from the usual weekend schedule to mark the event’s 10th anniversary. This year’s program will run from Oct. 9-18, with several bigger gatherings on the weekdays leading up to the weekend’s roster of between 50 and 55 events. On the schedule so far is a Free Poetry Event hosted by New Yorker poetry editor Paul Muldoon; a special Fiction Live event where actors will read fiction pieces from the magazine; New Yorker Writers on The New Yorker, an event co-hosted by The Moth, and “View of the World from Ninth Avenue,” where New Yorker writers will read from the magazine’s stories about Gotham City (the name of the event borrows from Saul Steinberg’s famous New Yorker cover). An online auction will also offer 10 special experiences, each involving a writer for the magazine — one big spender will earn a cartoon portrait of their family by artist Roz Chast. Last year’s event attracted 16,000 attendees, but the expanded event calendar could allow for 20,000. This year, a portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the newly created New Yorker Festival fund, benefitting the Harlem Childrens’ Zone.