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I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, WE ALL SCREAM FOR…: “Baptiste, it’s show time,” Karl Lagerfeld bellowed on the gigantic set where he was directing a series of minifilms featuring Rachel Bilson and Baptiste Giabiconi for the forthcoming U.S. launch of premium ice-cream brand Magnum.
Some in the room snickered, as “Showtime” is the title of Giabiconi’s first single and video as a breakout singer. On this day, the chiseled model was cast as an ill-tempered young photographer, which he played to the hilt for Lagerfeld’s cameras, donning dark glasses and hurling expletives.
Bilson, upstairs getting her hair curled for the scene, assured that her character — an ingenue actress/model and the object of Giabiconi’s lens — doesn’t take the abuse lying down. “I threw my wig at him, so I get him back,” she said, a knowing smirk curling on her lips.
Lagerfeld certainly put Bilson through her paces, also casting her as an art student and a prima ballerina. “With the pointe shoes and all, which is very painful,” she noted, marveling at the Parisian locations, including the famous music hall Folies Bergère, and Lagerfeld’s multitasking brilliance.
In the art-school vignette, Bilson is released from her creative block after indulging in an ice-cream break, Lagerfeld explained between sips of diet cola and a protein snack.
The three 90-second spots are to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 21, and then land on Magnum’s Facebook page, part of a marketing onslaught that will include TV commercials and a print campaign, also featuring Bilson and lensed by Lagerfeld. The latter are to break in May.
Shipments of Magnum, Unilever’s biggest ice cream brand, are starting this month in the U.S. In Europe, the brand is known for its silky chocolate-covered ice cream on a stick — and such celebrity ambassadors as Eva Longoria and Benicio del Toro.
“I love to do advertising, on both sides of the camera,” said Lagerfeld, who was mobbed by youngsters on the street when he stepped away for a lunch break; most recognized him from his appearance in a new Volkswagen commercial in Europe.
Bilson, meanwhile, is soon heading to North Carolina to start filming a new pilot series called “Hart of Dixie,” reuniting her with “The O.C.” creator and executive producer Josh Schwartz. In it, she portrays an Upper East Side doctor transplanted to a small town peopled with eccentric characters. “It’s kind of like ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ meets ‘Doc Hollywood,’” Bilson mused, relishing the prospect of donning city-slicker threads for the role.
— Miles Socha
TIME TO PAY UP: After nearly two years of planning, The New York Times finally unveiled its pay model for its Web site and other digital editions on Thursday. The pay model goes into effect in the U.S. beginning March 28.
In the coming year, Times executives are anticipating only modest revenues.
“I don’t think they’re thinking this is a game changer in the shorter term,” said a senior newsroom source. “This is a long-term project. It’s not going to be a huge revenue source right away.”
Times executives believe if they introduce this plan now, loyal readers will get accustomed to paying and it will provide an important revenue stream down the line, as circulation and advertising revenues for the printed paper inevitably continue to drop. A senior newsroom source said that it’s likely the pricing in the digital plan will be adjusted based on reader demand.
The pay plan addresses two readerships: the drive-by readership that represents the lion’s share of the Times’ robust online traffic, and the loyal readership that clicks on Times stories several times a day, every day.
Times executives insist that most people will not bump up against the pay wall, and they do not expect a significant decline in traffic or advertising revenue as a result. All readers are allowed to click up to 20 stories a month, and all stories linked on blogs or social media sites like Facebook and Twitter will be free, even if they have hit their limit.
The Times will charge readers who aren’t print subscribers $15 a month — or $195 a year — to have full access to its Web site and mobile device. For access for a tablet device app and the Web site its $20 a month; for the tablet, smart phone and the Web site it’s $35 a month. Times readers who receive home delivery of any kind (daily, weekend, etc.) will get all digital content for free automatically.
Though Web sites like The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal already have pay walls, those are both newspapers that serve specialized audiences. The Times’ new pay wall will be the biggest experiment in American print media to find out if there is a reliable revenue stream from readers who suddenly believe they want to pay for news online.
— John Koblin
HEALTHY, BUT FUN, TOO: Like a shot of wheatgrass or getting enough fiber, reading Prevention used to be a habit that, while undoubtedly good for you, was hard to keep up with. Full of research, it sometimes read more like a medical journal than a health magazine. Editor in chief Diane Salvatore, who was hired in August, is reinventing this healthy reading habit with the May issue. Over a Prevention-approved lunch of salmon and broccoli at ABC Kitchen, Salvatore talked about trying to reinvigorate the Rodale title while staying true to its original purpose. “I wanted to make it more entertaining, encouraging and motivational,” said Salvatore. She’s created a more lifestyle-driven magazine and called for more rigorous reporting for features. One piece, for example, reports on how Viagra has shaken up marriages and relationships while another considers the differences between conventional and organic farming.
Longtime readers will notice new sections, original photography and fresher formats. Beauty coverage, in particular, is increasing by 58 percent in the May issue and Sonia Kashuk has been tapped as a new beauty columnist. Perhaps as a result, beauty advertising is up 64 percent in the issue. Fashion editorial, in small doses, is also making its way into Prevention. On the cover, Sheryl Crow is wearing J Brand jeans and a tank by BCBG. And speaking of the cover, editorial director Bill Stump and Salvatore have retooled the logo and tagline (although it may take the eagle-eye observer to recognize it). “It’s more modern, feminine and lighter,” said Salvatore. On the ad side, publisher Laura Petasnick said paging is up 3 percent for the issue with new advertisers including Neutrogena Healthy Skin, Nestlé Carnation Breakfasts and Energizer Batteries.
“Readers can still rely on us to question authority and be their champions but they can get all of this without it feeling like a spoonful of medicine,” Salvatore said. “This is all about making Prevention as compelling and engaging as possible.”
— Amy Wicks