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LAST LAUGH?: Details editor in chief Dan Peres has been beaten up in the blogosphere and in print for deciding to put Kevin Federline on the magazine’s cover for the second time in two years. But it appears Peres’ move was a shrewd one: he said the December issue featuring the baby daddy to Britney Spears is on track to sell more than 75,000 copies, nearly 15,000 above K-Fed’s March 2005 issue. That’s a respectable sale for a guy who has been panned as one of the bigger losers of pop culture, but whom Details called one of “America’s new parental role models” in its December Power List. Though Federline, a fledgling rapper and party promoter, is best known for marrying (and divorcing) one of the biggest former pop stars in the country, his image as a doting father has grown as his ex-wife becomes increasingly strange with every incident of head shaving, clothing removal and erratic driving reported in the press. “K-Fed is certainly relevant and that’s indisputable,” said Peres.
Federline’s popularity, Peres added, also speaks to the bigger theme of how even the most grotesque celebrities have become a larger part of mainstream news. “That sort of tabloid nature of the news is permeating so many aspects of our culture, from watching Paris Hilton being released from prison as if it were hostages being released with Jesse Jackson brokering the deal, or how the death of Anna Nicole Smith got more coverage than the death of [former president] Gerald Ford.”
But Federline’s appeal to the consumer isn’t as strong as other Details cover models — the August issue featuring Daniel Radcliffe will likely be its best seller of the year. The issue, the first Details cover by photographer Steven Klein, banked 91,000 copies, compared with 73,000 copies for the August 2006 issue. And sticking with a winning idea, the January/February issue will boast another grown up young star: “High School Musical” actor Zac Efron.
— Stephanie D. Smith
LIKE, THE CONSTITUTION IS SOOO HOT: Paris Hilton, First Amendment issue? Well, it’s about to be argued in court. Hilton sued Hallmark Cards Inc. in U.S. district court in California in September for using her likeness without permission after it produced cards titled “Paris’ First Day as a Waitress,” and used a photograph of her face superimposed on a waitress’ body. The cards also include Hilton’s catchphrase, “That’s hot!”, which Hilton had trademarked for use on apparel. The cards were part of a new line released in the summer that included a number of celebrities and politicians such as Donald Trump, Rachael Ray, Tom Cruise, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and others. Hilton believed that Hallmark misappropriated her image and invaded her privacy with the card, and sought damages said to be in the six figures, based on profits Hallmark earned on the cards at $2.49 a pop.
This story first appeared in the January 4, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Hallmark responded by filing a motion in November to dismiss Hilton’s complaint, arguing the cards are a parody of Hilton’s likeness and protected under the First Amendment. But the court on Dec. 17 denied Hallmark’s motion, which means Hilton’s case will be heard in front of a jury at a trial set for Aug. 28. “Just because she’s a celebrity and she’s famous, doesn’t mean you can steal from her. That’s essentially what Hallmark’s done. They’ve stolen her notoriety to make money,” said Brett Blakely, Hilton’s lawyer.
Hallmark’s next step will be to file a response to the court’s decision by Jan. 14. “We are going to continue down the legal process,” said a Hallmark spokeswoman. “Our position remains the same. We feel it was within our First Amendment rights to produce and sell the card. We don’t feel we have infringed on her rights in any way.”
The card company is said to have received complaints from some of the other celebrities featured in the line, which a spokeswoman for the card company said she was unaware of. But Hallmark is still producing the cards that include Hilton’s likeness, and has not pulled any of them from its stores or from the mass market retail chains that carry its cards. No settlement discussions have been broached.
ALL CHANGE: Jennifer Tung, senior beauty editor at In Style, is leaving the Time Inc. title and heading to Cookie magazine, where she’ll become the new beauty and health director. Tung said as a mother of two, she is looking forward to switching to a parenting title. The Condé Nast Publications title will grow its beauty coverage this year and is also increasing its rate base, beginning with the February issue, to 500,000 from 400,000. Tung is on maternity leave and hasn’t set a start date at Cookie yet.
On the subject of parenting, Tung’s colleague at In Style, deputy managing editor Eilidh MacAskill, is also on maternity leave. MacAskill joined the title in November, in the number two spot behind managing editor Charla Lawhon. Yet shortly after MacAskill was hired, her sooner-than-expected maternity leave left many in a state of confusion, said sources close to the magazine. Her arrival had led many to believe that more changes were afoot. Meanwhile, Ariel Foxman is still working on the title as a Time Inc. editor at large. In Style did not comment by press time.
— Amy Wicks and S.D.S.
INSIDE MAN: Sometimes it pays to know someone at a printing plant — and sometimes it doesn’t. On Thursday, Eugene Plotkin, the former associate in the fixed income research division of Goldman Sachs & Co. who led a multifaceted series of schemes that included having employees of a Wisconsin printing plant steal advance copies of BusinessWeek for a preview of its “Inside Wall Street” column, was sentenced to 57 months in prison. His extensive insider trading network resulted in more than $6.7 million in illicit gains, according to a statement from Michael J. Garcia, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Stanislav Shpigelman, an analyst at Merrill Lynch, also provided information to Plotkin on the company’s corporate deals, including Reebok’s acquisition of Adidas (which was finalized in January 2006). Reebok’s common stock price increased by 30 percent from its closing price from the previous day. Shpigelman was sentenced to 37 months in prison.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: One day before Jeff Bewkes took over as president and chief executive officer at Time Warner Inc., he sold approximately $4 million in stock. And while these types of transactions aren’t exactly uncommon, the timing still raised a few eyebrows. Was it a signal of Bewkes’ outlook for the company? Nothing as interesting, unfortunately. It was a simple matter of tax liability: Bewkes had 500,000 shares that were currently vested, so he sold 238,855, at $16.58 a share, to cover the bill.
DIOR’S NEW LOOK: Taking Dior Homme back to its couture roots, Kris Van Assche made tailored elegance the theme for his first advertising campaign — albeit with a hint of danger. “They look like young professional killers,” joked Karl Lagerfeld, who shot three models in a Parisian apartment wearing Van Assche’s ballooning, high-waist pants and pristine white shirts.
Van Assche described the images, which break in February magazines, as the “next step” for the brand — rather than a radical change — in its post-Hedi Slimane era. A budding photographer, Slimane lensed recent Dior Homme campaigns and favored an edgy, artsy approach.
“When one evokes ‘elegance,’ people tend to think you refer to something old-fashioned, boring,” Van Assche said. “I am totally aware that we are living in a sportswear generation, but I feel it is my duty — at Dior Homme even more so than at my own label — to propose an alternative….I prefer to look at it as a challenge: make elegance radical.”
That’s the reason he selected Lagerfeld, who shoots campaigns for Chanel, Fendi, Dom Perignon and others. “Karl Lagerfeld represents in a very personal way this idea of ‘modern elegance,'” Van Assche explained.
One subtle change is that the ads were shot in color, “though one could mistake it for black-and-white,” Van Assche allowed. The models, all South American and in their mid-20s, are also slightly older than many recent Dior Homme spots.
Van Assche said his favorite image depicts a model at a window in a black suit with a satin collar detail on the lapels. “It best translates the message of modern noblesse,” he said.
Dior declined to reveal budgets for the spring/summer campaign, but Van Assche said the media spend would be on par with a year ago.
— Miles Socha
ELLEN ON EQUINOX: In shooting her first fitness ad campaign, fashion photographer Ellen von Unwerth is helping Equinox Fitness Clubs dress up its image. The fine chiseled physiques for which the 41-unit chain is known are still front-and-center, but the former-model-turned-lenswoman has given them a fashion edge. One overly baroque ad features a muscular man striking a table pose in the middle of a Victorian party surrounded by corseted beauties sampling the fruit platter resting on his stomach. Even more risqué is the image of nuns sketching a strategically shadowed naked man. Created by the ad agency Fallon, each of the four ads carry the tag line “Happily Ever” — as in the fairy-tale send-off — the idea being readers will question what they are striving for in fitness and in life.
Ads will run in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Esquire and other magazines, and outdoor images are going up in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami. A behind-the-scenes videocast shot by von Unwerth will air in movie theaters in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Equinox executives declined to comment on the company’s media buy.
— Rosemary Feitelberg