GRAND SEND-OFF: Isabella Blow’s funeral Tuesday in Gloucestershire, England, was as over the top as her style and friends said she would have loved it. The likes of Sophie Dahl, Lucy Ferry and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson paraded in grand style, a mob of paparazzi waited outside and the coffin was topped by one of Blow’s favorite hats — a three-masted schooner created by Philip Treacy. Longtime Blow friend and protégé Treacy also created the dressing for the coffin, a black velvet cloth covered with flowers, leaves and a carpet of lilies, and built a bust of Blow for inside the church that had another of her favorite hats on it. Others among the 250 attending included Alexander McQueen, Jasper Conran, Anthony Price, André Leon Talley, Hamish Bowles and Rupert Everett. Blow died May 10 at age 48. She had tried to end her life several times, and a preliminary inquest found she died after swallowing weed killer. A memorial service for Blow is expected to be held in July and a full inquest will be held in October.
WHAT’S NEXT?: Though billionaire Ron Burkle may have satisfied his temporary yearning for media expansion with his recent acquisition of Primedia’s Enthusiast titles, he could still have his eye on another one, according to several media analysts. On Monday, Source Interlink Cos., which Burkle controls as a part of his investment firm Yucaipa Cos., said it would acquire Primedia’s Enthusiast Media division, a collection of 70 titles including Motor Trend, Hot Rod and Surfer, for $1.2 billion. But the New York Post reported May 3 that Yucaipa Cos. also has its eye on the debt-ridden American Media Inc., home of Star, Shape and Men’s Fitness.
Analysts believe there could be incentives to merging AMI’s assets with Yucapia’s media holdings, which are said to include culture bimonthly start-up — for the third time — Radar.
For one, AMI’s Distribution Services Inc. is one of the largest magazine distribution companies and would fit well with Source Interlink, a distributor of magazines, electronics and DVDs. Many of AMI’s other assets are challenged — Star, for example — and the company is saddled with more than $1 billion in debt. But analysts say now that Primedia’s assets are a part of Source, AMI would become a smaller part of the portfolio, lessening AMI’s financial impact on Source’s overall bottom line.
This story first appeared in the May 16, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Moreover, analysts said Burkle would have access to AMI chief executive officer David Pecker to help manage both AMI’s businesses and Primedia’s 70 Enthusiast titles. Though Pecker has hit plenty of rough spots running AMI, he is a well-seasoned magazine executive. “David is a great asset,” said BMO Capital Market’s Andy Buchholtz. “He has a lot of experience in the auto category with Hachette Filipacchi Media,” of which Pecker was ceo from 1992 to 1999. As of now, Steve Parr is president of Primedia’s Enthusiast Group, reporting to Source chairman Michael Duckworth.
A spokesman at Source Interlink said, “We do not comment on speculation or rumor.” A spokesman for AMI did not return an e-mail request by press time.
Meanwhile, analysts are keeping their eyes on another publishing deal in the works: the sale of Dennis Publishing. Final bids are said to be due May 23. — Stephanie D. Smith