HEARST TAKES THE WHITE HOUSE: On Thursday morning, more than 100 Hearst executives assembled at the Newseum on the Washington Mall for day two of their biannual meeting. Around 11 a.m., Harper’s Bazaar editor in chief Glenda Bailey was on stage interviewing Christiane Amanpour when the news hit that former Hearst Magazine president Cathie Black was out of a job as New York City Schools Chancellor. Everybody’s head went down when the blast came out from The New York Times, according to one Hearst source on hand, and there was a brief flurry of e-mails. Nobody was that surprised at Black’s ouster, though, and, by the afternoon, the former Hearst president’s news had been upstaged by the group’s trip to the White House.
The Hearst posse filed into the State Dining Room to listen to a panel of White House senior advisers — including Valerie Jarrett, Gene Sperling and Tina Tchen — introduced by President Barack Obama. “You guys can probably give me some tips on how to dress,” the President said, looking at Esquire editor in chief David Granger. The President spent close to 30 minutes with the group, despite his crowded schedule. He didn’t have time to shake everyone’s hand, but a few Hearst executives got lucky. “I shook the President’s hand! #electtolead” tweeted Kimberly Lau, Hearst vice president of business development and partnership relations, honoring Hearst president David Carey’s mandate to “share this with the world.”
This story first appeared in the April 8, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The big news from inside the company on Thursday was the launch of HGTV magazine this fall under the guidance of former Coastal Living editor in chief Sara Peterson. Following in the footsteps of Food Network Magazine’s circulation success, the company will test two issues of the shelter magazine with an initial press run of 300,000 copies.
Back at the confab, other speakers on Thursday included Google’s Marissa Mayer; Doris Kearns Goodwin; John Hayes, the chief merchandising officer of Amex, and Somalia-born Dutch politician and writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Duncan Edwards, the chief executive of Hearst’s international magazine group, and executive vice president Kim St. Claire Bodden, who oversees all the editorial content in the international titles, also addressed the group about Hearst’s action abroad.
On Thursday night, Carey raised a glass to Swedish-born Red Rooster chef Marcus Samuelsson, who cooked for the more than 100 executives at the Swedish Embassy, which has views over the Potomac. “The Hearst family — all the different books — they’ve always been very supportive of my cooking,” Samuelsson said. “They come up to Harlem, they come to my restaurant, they always supported me.”
Barring any scheduling conflicts, Vice President Joe Biden will speak to the Hearst posse today on their turf at the Newseum.
— ZEKE TURNER
FASHION TELEVISION: Los Angeles-based entertainment company Hud:sun Media is adding a new voice to fashion online. On Monday, it launched StrobeLikes, a YouTube fashion channel with branded, minute-long videos shot with a strobe effect to give them a distinct feel. So far, designers such as David Yurman, Rachel Roy and Whitney Port have signed up, as well as digital fashion celebrities like Elle and Blair Fowler. “StrobeLikes is a great way for us to work with fashion brands on a digital channel that has a unique and special language,” said Michael Rourke, chief executive officer of Hud:sun Media. “They are these snack-size videos that are a minute long with a beautiful model, great fashion and music.” Hud:sun works with the brands to give them a uniform, editorial feel. Fashion companies, in turn, can use these videos to gather feedback from consumers and direct them to their own sites. “You can like certain videos or indicate to your friends that this is a look you like,” Rourke explained. “It’s a unique way of sharing your love of fashion. It’s like a digital look book.”
— MARC KARIMZADEH
SCOTT BROWN RESPONDS: The Republican beauty contest to find a candidate buff enough to run against President Obama in 2012 got hands-on and personal Wednesday night at Wayne and Lea Berman’s Washington book party for freshman Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. No one doubts Brown is the best-looking candidate in the pack, especially not since his 2009 nude centerfold in Cosmo. But is he too green to dominate the world stage? “I was for Mitt Romney last time around,” said real estate developer and former ambassador Stuart Bernstein, who, when pressed, wondered about Brown’s foreign policy experience. Brown, who arrived late because of votes in the Senate, was quick to take up the challenge. “What do you mean, no foreign affairs experience? I’ve been in the military for 30 years, and that’s more than President Obama can say, no offense,” he shot back.
Also on hand were hard-core political junkies Salem al-Sabah, the Kuwait ambassador, and his wife, Rima, who hugged the inside track till 9:30 p.m., listening to Brown and his wife, Gail Huff, who works as a part-time special projects reporter for D.C.’s ABC affiliate WJLA, huddle with Haley Barbour supporter Scott Reed and Romney boss Ron Kaufman.
Even hostess Lea Berman’s gal pal network of former White House social secretaries strutted their political muscle. Gahl Burt, Ronald Reagan’s former White House social secretary, who raised serious money for Senator John McCain’s failed bid against Obama, joined the crowd with Ann Stock, who manages the Fulbright program for her longtime mentor, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One social secretary who didn’t make the party was Jeremy Bernard, the President’s third. “I didn’t invite him because I haven’t met him yet,” said Berman, who served in George W. Bush’s White House. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”
— SUSAN WATTERS