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EVEN THE TIMES REALIZES SEX SELLS: As practically everyone with an Internet connection now knows, last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine cover story was about a former Gawker editor’s firsthand account of life as a blogger, complete with a suggestive cover photo that pictured her lying on a bed. This Sunday, curvy Tyra Banks is the cover girl, and inside there’s a profile written by editor at large Lynn Hirschberg that follows the life of the former model who is turning herself into a brand. The covers seem like a bit of a departure for the magazine, but are these splashy, buzz-oriented images beginning a trend? “They are more sexy, but it’s just two in a row,” said editor Gerald Marzorati. “They are actually very different, although Emily Gould’s story was more of a departure for us, since it was written in the first person.”
The Hirschberg profile begins by describing Banks’ “275 smiles” — from “angry but still smiling” to “flirting with boyfriend” — but mainly follows her through her responsibilities behind her shows, including “America’s Next Top Model,” “The Tyra Banks Show.” Banks talks about her early modeling days, relating how her agency made a list titled, ”designers who will not book Tyra because of hips and breasts.” But now Banks appears more concerned with her role as a brand: “Like her hero, Martha Stewart, Banks wants, most of all, for her name to immediately suggest a distinct point of view,” writes Hirschberg. “Her brand, like her trademark ‘tough but still smiling’ smile, is consistent in all her shows: serious about the frivolous; empathetic and empowering, and always, always aimed at young women, across all races. It’s girly TV with a punch.”
Marzorati noted that these stories are being published back-to-back because they happened to be ready, noting that more Barack Obama covers and the like will be back in the coming weeks.— Amy Wicks
DID THEY GET MY GOOD SIDE?: Most actors are critical of their performances, and Elle editor in chief Roberta Myers and creative director Joe Zee are no exception. The two appeared in the season finale of “Ugly Betty” last Thursday during a scene depicting a softball game between Elle and Mode magazines. Both Zee and Myers batted for their team, while Mode’s Wilhelmina Slater, played by Vanessa Williams, pitched (Naomi Campbell and Lindsay Lohan also appeared in the episode). Though their appearances were brief, Zee could barely watch himself on-screen at the Tribeca Grand, where Elle hosted a screening of the program with “Ugly Betty” creator Silvio Horta, actress Becki Newton and other crew members. “It’s so hard for me to sit in that room! I hate watching myself,” Zee said while standing outside at the bar during a commercial break. But if they aren’t exactly actors, they are editors — both Zee and Myers reworked their dialogue for their scenes. Myers switched her line to Williams after striking out to “Bite this” from “Bite me” because the latter sounded too crude, while Zee ad-libbed his own zinger: “I’m not going to be distracted by how fat you look in white.”— Stephanie D. Smith
IN THE DETAILS: In another sign it’s out to beef up its fashion coverage, Details has lured Michael Macko from Saks Fifth Avenue to become the magazine’s first fashion director. Macko, who is Saks’ vice president of fashion, public relations and special events for men and home, will start at Details on June 9. Matthew Edelstein will leave his position as fashion editor for the magazine but will continue to serve as a contributing fashion editor and style its shoots, according to a Details spokeswoman. Terron Schaefer, senior vice president of marketing for Saks, said Macko’s resignation came as a surprise and no decision has been made on a successor.
Macko will oversee all of Details’ fashion coverage. “Having worked in retailing, I will bring my unique perspective to Details. Dan [Peres, editor in chief] is looking to see where we can take the magazine and I will bring a fresh set of eyes,” said Macko.
“In September, I would have been at Saks for 12 years,” he added. “My long-term career is something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time and the thought of a magazine always intrigued me — much more so than going to work for a vendor.”— Jean E. Palmieri
A POOR OUTLOOK: Standard & Poor’s on Tuesday issued a fresh summary analysis on American Media Inc.’s issuer credit rating, which is at “CCC+” (which indicates the company is vulnerable to nonpayments on its debts). The ratings agency noted that it could lower the rating or outlook if the company’s “margin of compliance with financial covenants thins, if it is unable to make progress in refinancing its debt due in 2009, if liquidity falls or if operating performance deteriorates.”
S&P noted that AMI’s ability to stem circulation declines is doubtful, although it reported that, while many competing magazines have raised their cover prices, AMI has not yet followed suit, which may help reverse Star’s recent weakness on the newsstand.— A.W.