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HELL IS FOR FIRST LADIES?: Media attention in Europe has shifted away from First Ladies Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s respective wardrobes to meatier fare — the specter of a strained relationship between the French and U.S. presidential couples.
Fueling the brouhaha is a new unauthorized biography on Bruni-Sarkozy that hit French bookstores on Thursday. It’s co-penned by journalists Michaël Darmon and Yves Derai and titled “Carla et les Ambitieux,” which translates literally as “Carla and the Ambitious.”
Published by Les Editions du Moment, the 167-page book contains a passage based on a private dinner that is said to have taken place between the two presidential couples in March at the White House. When asked by Bruni-Sarkozy about daily life, Obama is said to have replied, “Don’t ask, it’s hell. I can’t stand it!”
The Elysées denied suggestions that Bruni-Sarkozy collaborated on the book and said France’s First Lady would not comment.
The authors could not be reached for comment Thursday. Katie McCormick Lelyveld, Obama’s press secretary, said in an e-mailed response that the “First Lady never said that,” referring to the book’s claim.
A spokesman for the French Embassy in Washington added, “Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy distances herself completely from the content of the book…which was not authorized, and the authors alone are responsible for its contents. The words attributed to the First Lady of the United States were never said.”
Another unauthorized book about Bruni-Sarkozy, titled “Une vie secrète,” or “A secret life,” by Besma Lahouri and published at Flammarion, also came out this week.
— Chantal Goupil
IT’S NOT X NOR Y NOR Z — SO IS ANYONE INTERESTED?: Newsweek is still on the hunt for its next editor, and it appears there is still no timetable on a successor for Jon Meacham. The initial guessing game produced big names such as Adam Moss (who apparently turned the job down), Tina Brown (who has said she’s happy in her current role at the Daily Beast) and Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith, who told WWD he hasn’t spoken to new owner Sidney Harman about the job. Jacob Weisberg’s name also has been mentioned. He said he’d rather “steer clear of the whole subject.” Regardless, interest in Newsweek’s future appears to be waning, at least among some editors, one of whom sniped that “no one finds this interesting,” while another insider called the newsweekly a “major and probably futile rebuilding job.” Harman’s lawyer, Robert Barnett, declined to comment on the editor search.
— Amy Wicks
DEMARCHELIER WATCH: Patrick Demarchelier was in the lobby of 750 Third Avenue in New York on Thursday afternoon, stirring some speculation that he might be stopping by to visit Stefano Tonchi and the team at W. That could be one gossip-stirring scenario, given the photographer is under contract to Vogue. Unfortunately, a more plausible one is that Demarchelier was visiting the international editions of Vogue, which are housed in the same building. His agent did not return a call for comment.
HAMM ON FASHION AND MORE: Fresh from taping an appearance at “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” a slightly anxious-looking Jon Hamm made his way into De Santos on Wednesday evening and darted for the bar. Gripping a tumbler of bourbon, the “Mad Men” star, who plays the seemingly imperturbable Don Draper on the AMC drama, was ready to switch gears from TV talk-show guest to guest of honor at a small dinner arranged by Details magazine. Hamm appears on the October cover. “You never really get used to the photo shoots, they can be really awkward,” he said. “But I do love fashion. Tom Ford is incredible. I’m wearing a Giorgio Armani suit. He’s been very supportive.” At dinner, Hamm was introduced to Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos, and the actor surprised the designers when he mentioned he was a fan of their work. “Well, e-mail me…we have connections and can, like, send you stuff!” said Shipley. Also at the dinner: Hamm’s girlfriend, Jennifer Westfeldt, Thom Browne, Marcus Wainwright and David Neville from Rag & Bone, Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig from “Saturday Night Live” and Jack McBrayer from “30 Rock.” In this crowd, Hamm had no trouble talking fashion, but he also clearly doesn’t have front-row ambitions. “I’ll leave it to the women to get their jollies.”
NYLON FOR IPAD: Nylon is the latest magazine to make the jump to an iPad app, with the September tablet version of the title making its debut on the iTunes store on Monday. The virtual issue sells for $2.99, versus $4.99 for the print version, and features video interviews, behind-the-scenes footage from photo shoots, short films, MP3s and movie clips, in addition to all the editorial from the magazine. “The median age of our reader is 26, and we want to be everywhere they are, whether that’s in print, on the Web, on the iPhone or now on the iPad,” said Jaclynn Jarrett, publisher of Nylon, which has a monthly rate base of 225,000.
Initial advertisers for the iPad app include A|X Armani Exchange, Hudson Jeans, Levi’s, Express, Rimmel, Guess, Aldo, Adidas, Volcom and Sprint. Nylon charged a flat rate to advertisers and did not offer circulation guarantees for the virtual edition.
“This is really uncharted territory, so providing potential download figures is really a shot in the dark at this point,” noted Jarrett. “But we think several years down the road this will be a significant percentage of our circulation.”
Nylon tapped Amsterdam-based WoodWing, which has worked with a wide range of publications including Time and Sports Illustrated, to engineer the iPad app.
“We think the key is to expand horizontally with content, not just vertically when you add these new delivery formats,” said Marvin Scott Jarrett, editor in chief of Nylon. “We sent editors to Vancouver to tape video with the cast of The CW’s ‘Hellcats,’ did documentary-style pieces on ‘Friday Night Lights’ and integrated an MP3 of a new Interpol song with an interview with the band. We’re not just repurposing our print content, we’re creating a unique experience.”
— David Lipke