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CUTE AND CUDDLY PAYS THE BILLS: A total of 2.6 million copies. That’s how many newsstand issues of People with the exclusive photos of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s newborn twins, Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline, have sold, according to sources close to the magazine, citing early sales estimates for the issue. People and Hello reportedly snatched up the exclusive baby photos for a wallet-busting $14 million, the cost split between the two in some manner. People scored the domestic rights for the images; Hello bought the international ones.
The issue is the biggest seller in seven years, and is the fourth highest newsstand seller in the magazine’s 35-year history, behind the Sept. 11 issue (4.1 million single copies), the issue covering Princess Diana’s death (3 million) and the one covering the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. (2.8 million). The June 19, 2006 issue with the exclusive baby pictures of Brad and Angelina’s first daughter, Shiloh, moved 2.2 million newsstand copies (perhaps the extra Pitt-Jolie baby provided a bigger draw this time).
This story first appeared in the August 22, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The issue’s 2.6 million newsstand sale is way above People’s average weekly newsstand sale of 1.5 million copies, but the issue has been on newsstands longer than a typical one. People released the issue on Aug. 4, two days before its regular newsstand drop date, and the issue will stay on stands for three weeks through Aug. 25. But People also raised its cover price for the special issue, to $4.49, or 50 cents more than its regular price. Along with the 2.6 million copies the issue is projecting to sell on newsstands, the babies also reached 2.3 million People subscribers, according to first-half numbers from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
The baby photos also helped People extend its online reach to record levels. People.com recorded a record 6 million unique visitors for the first 24 hours the cover went online. Comparatively, people.com usually averages around 8.8 million uniques a month, according to figures from Comscore Media Metrix. What will happen if Pitt and Jolie have triplets?
— Stephanie D. Smith
RIDING THE DONKEYS AND THE ELEPHANTS: Jack Shafer’s advice in Slate that the press skip the political conventions altogether — he urged the media to “withdraw all reporters and force the curious to rely on a C-SPAN feed…[because] these political gatherings tend to produce very little real news” — hasn’t been heeded by glossy magazines. Among the estimated 15,000 members of the press attending the Denver and St. Paul, Minn., events are from monthly or weekly titles that once would have been off the hook for 24-hour coverage, but can now offer it on the Web. Vanity Fair is putting to work its husband-and-wife political team of Dee Dee Myers and Todd Purdum (in addition to throwing a party at both conventions), and the Atlantic will be represented both in print and online, with Marc Ambinder, latest blogger hire Ta-Nehisi Coates, Hillary Clinton scoop-procurer Joshua Green (whose most recent memo coups scored an all-time high for theatlantic.com’s Web traffic), and editor in chief James Bennet. Glamour’s Washington editor Linda Kramer Jenning will attend both conventions, as will several Glamocracy bloggers. Over at Cosmogirl, senior editor Tara Roberts will be going with the magazine’s 18-year-old political correspondent Katie Glueck, but corporate sisters Esquire and Marie Claire won’t be sending anyone, spokesmen for those magazines said.
At The New Yorker, Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza will be at both conventions (and has a piece out Monday on the Democrats’ bid for the West), as will George Packer and Hendrik Hertzberg, both of whom will blog from them. Executive editor Dorothy Wickenden will be at the Democratic confab and will host the regular political podcast from there; Raffi Khatchadourian will report from the Republican convention.
GQ, which is throwing a party at both conventions, is sending Lisa DePaulo and Andrew Corsello to Denver and Robert Draper to St. Paul. Photographer Jeff Riedel will be shooting subjects for a portfolio of political figures slated for the November issue. (Readers of the Washington Post got a behind-the-scenes look Thursday at the wrangling of top John McCain aide Steve Schmidt, who was quoted as saying, “I will not appear in the pages of GQ.…It’s the thing I despise most about this job. I don’t want to be in GQ. I want to go home.” According to a GQ spokesman, Schmidt rescheduled twice and then canceled.) Over at New York magazine, John Heilemann and Jada Yuan will cover both conventions for the print edition and the Web site, and Joe Hagan will be at the Democratic one.
As for the celebrity weeklies, People will have three senior staffers on deck, although Us Weekly, which has gotten a lot of attention for its political coverage and access, didn’t respond by press time.
— Irin Carmon
GOING TO THE BIG HOUSE WITH A BANG: Jacob & Co. is launching its first ad campaign in approximately two years this fall — likely to be the last overseen by company founder Jacob “King of Bling” Arabov before he heads off to prison early next year for 30 months after being arrested for money laundering involving narcotics. The ads with Natalia Vodianova were shot by Fabien Baron. Denise Scala, director of marketing, said the media buy has increased by 200 percent from the jeweler’s last campaign with Helena Christensen, and this time will include Vogue, GQ, Architectural Digest, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, The Economist and Forbes. “Our brand is growing and evolving into a full lifestyle brand and we are also contemplating an online program,” she said. All the better for Arabov to keep up with the goings-on at the company.
— Amy Wicks
END OF THE ROAD: Town & Country Travel, the quarterly supplement that once harbored hopes of being a stand-alone magazine, has been folded by Hearst Magazines, WWD has learned. Heidi Sherman Mitchell, its editor, will remain at flagship Town & Country as features and travel editor. A spokeswoman said three full-time staff members there were interviewing for other positions at the company; sources close to the title said several full-time freelancers were also affected. Launched in 2003, Town & Country Travel was a finalist in its circulation category for the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2006. That year, however, launch editor Melissa Biggs Bradley took off to eventually start her own travel Web site, and later that year the magazine was scaled back to a polybagged supplement. On Thursday, the spokeswoman repeatedly emphasized the small scale of the project. “Given the small number of people affected, and that the product never was a full-fledged newsstand magazine, but rather a polybagged brand extension, it made sense to fold the content into the flagship,” she said. Two years ago, though, when Sherman Mitchell was hired, a different spokesman insisted reporters should not refer to Town & Country Travel and the biannual Wedding spin-off as supplements, but rather as magazines.