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- Magazine Execs Mull the Future of Industry
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LIFE OF THE PARTY: With the promiscuous celebration of anniversaries, it’s no wonder media insiders complain of anniversary fatigue. Perhaps that’s why the Atlantic (whose 150th is an inarguably legitimate milestone) is trying to do something different. The VIP guests — who so far include the likes of Tom Wolfe, Arianna Huffington and Moby — at the magazine’s party will be on a stage. The audience will be the general public, invited to register for free to watch them imbibe, network, and maybe offer some wisdom. “It’s the cocktail party as performance art,” said Atlantic Media consumer media president Justin Smith.
If this sounds like a logistical stretch, well, they’re still working out the details. A spokeswoman said several microphones would be involved and that P.J. O’Rourke would likely help direct the conversation from another separated space on the stage. There will also be a musical performance, still being determined, and organizers are discussing how to merge the VIPs with the common folk at the end, perhaps with a book signing.
The party is deliberately being held in New York rather than Boston, where the magazine spent much of its life, or Washington, where it moved two years ago. “It’s sort of a kickoff of this new energy that we’re bringing to the New York media community and the advertising community,” said Smith, who left Felix Dennis’ The Week last summer to work for another millionaire-turned-media mogul, David Bradley. And though Smith didn’t say so, of the three, New York wins handily on lavish posturing, audience or not. — Irin Carmon
HOME ON THE FARM: While “Sex and the City” films in Ron Galotti’s old stomping grounds at 4 Times Square, the former Vogue and Vanity Fair publisher and inspiration for the Mr. Big character on the HBO television show returns from obscurity in, of all places, Country Living. (Although perhaps it’s not that much of a stretch: He actually spent the early years of his career as founding publisher of the Hearst Magazines title.) Galotti has lived in Vermont on a 100-acre farm since 2003, after being ousted from his job as publisher of GQ. In Country Living’s November issue, Galotti and his family — wife Lisa and daughter Abbi — are photographed galloping on the grounds with their horses and chickens. And he’s clearly settled into his “Green Acres” life, as evidenced by his theory on John Deeres: “Up here, a tractor is like your laptop — it’s the universal tool of the farm.”
This story first appeared in the October 29, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Galotti hasn’t totally given up his wheeling-and-dealing ways, however. “I trade hay for lamb with neighbors who own a sheep farm. It’s neat that people exchange a lot of things up here. So if you come to dinner, I might rotisserie a leg of lamb rolled with a paste of cumin, marjoram, coriander, and olive oil, and trade with my neighbor the cheese farmer for goat-milk yogurt…” But does the famously rage-a-holic Galotti scream at his neighbor if he doesn’t get enough cheese? — Stephanie D. Smith
HOPING HE’S DIFFERENT: Photographer Russell James might be the star of an upcoming reality TV show — a VH1 series premiering Sunday called “The Shot” in which he judges other snappers — but he harbors no illusions about the genre. “VH1 shows have been train wrecks,” he said of notorious shows like “Flavor of Love” and “The Surreal Life.” “It can be a career-wrecker. But the way VH1 presented this one, they wanted it to be real and credible, not just star-driven.”
Thursday night found the Australian native celebrating “Gorgeous,” his photography show at New York’s Milk Studios, where his portraits of Scarlett Johansson, Halle Berry, Mary J. Blige and Gisele Bündchen were on display. A veteran of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issues, James was highly critical of Beyoncé’s recent cover for that publication and the celebrity cover trend in general. “I miss the supermodel. Celebrities are different; they need a lot of direction,” he said. “Surprisingly, they are quite uncomfortable in front of the camera. Scarlett Johansson acts in her photographs as opposed to modeling for you.”
He has even shot his reality show compatriot Tyra Banks for her SI cover (his show is produced by Ken Mok, an executive producer of Banks’ show “America’s Next Top Model”). But when he went on her show to commemorate the 10th anniversary of that cover, he got a surprise. “Tyra told me she was horrified by the outcome and that the Polaroids were the worst she’d ever seen. She said she called her agent, in fact,” he recalled. “But she ended up loving the photographs.” — Jacinta Green
NEW APPOINTMENTS: American Express Publishing appointed two new publishers to its largest magazines, Travel + Leisure and Food & Wine. J.P. Kyrillos was moved to Travel + Leisure as vice president publisher after serving at Food & Wine in the same position. He succeeds Julie McGowan, who left the magazine in October after 12 years at Amex Publishing, most of the time at Food & Wine. Christina Grdovic Baltz was named publisher of Food & Wine from vice president, associate publisher.
The appointments reward two executives who have helped boost ad pages at Food & Wine by 4.4 percent so far this year through September, to 997 pages (comparatively, Gourmet’s ad pages have fallen 7.2 percent to 811, and Bon Appétit’s pages have grown 10 percent, to 693). However, pages at Travel + Leisure through September have fallen 16.4 percent compared with last year, its 35th anniversary. “They had a bumpy road in 2007, but December was a turning point,” said Kyrillos, explaining the issue increased its ad pages 20 percent in part thanks to a special section on India. — S.D.S.
ALL ON BOARD: After Condé Nast and Hearst last week committed to Audit Bureau of Circulations’ Rapid Report, where publishers can report circulation figures on an issue by issue schedule, Bauer Publishing and Wenner Media said Friday that they, too, would sign up for the service. Wenner Media will upload circ data for its second-half numbers as they are available. Bauer will start using the service beginning with its January issues, which would provide information for its titles including In Touch and Life & Style. — S.D.S.
NUMBERS REVEALED: Those who doubt the existence of the Men’s Vogue reader — that coveted man of refined tastes and freespending ways — finally have some hard numbers to analyze. The magazine quietly released its Audit Bureau of Circulations figures for the first half of 2007, which included three bimonthly issues. The only other public figures previously released covered the last nine months of 2006, which had two bimonthly issues that averaged about 120,000 copies on the newsstand, and one spring issue that was on the newsstand for three months. The new numbers for the first half of 2007 show about a 25 percent drop in single-copy sales, averaging 87,977 copies sold on the newsstand. And while 25 percent fewer consumers opting for a magazine is never cause for celebration, a spokeswoman for the magazine said, “We are very happy with our strong newsstand performance for the first half of 2007 and we continue to build and grow our rate base due to a higher conversion to subscriptions than we had projected.”
The magazine went to 10 issues a year in September, and according to two sources, advance figures show September sold about 60,000 copies on newsstand. The Men’s Vogue spokeswoman said that figure was inconsistent with internal estimates, but declined to provide another. The magazine raised its rate base to 325,000 in September from 300,000 and will go to 350,000 in the New Year. — I.C.