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MAYBE THEY SHOULD JUST HIT A JACK-IN-THE-BOX: So where will the A-list crowd (not to mention the B- and C-list ones) migrate to after the last statuette has been doled out on Oscar night and the last Governor’s Ball lamb chop has been nibbled? Following the cancellations of Ed Limato’s pre- and Vanity Fair’s post-Oscar bashes, two of the town’s most high-profile private events have also called it quits: Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg’s pre-Oscar lunch, and Dani Janssen’s post-Oscar night capper, which began before most starlets were even born. Top party planners in Hollywood believe even more fetes will follow suit, but at least a handful of the biggest are still on: The Chopard/Elton John AIDS Foundation post-party at the Pacific Design Center (which used to do battle with Vanity Fair just a block away at the now-shuttered Morton’s), and Variety’s no-press-invited Night Before and Night Before the Night Before parties. One party planner speculated that both will hold strong because they benefit charities (Variety’s Night Before benefits the Motion Picture & Television Fund). There’s no confirmation yet as to whether party boys Patrick Whitesell and Mike De Luca will hold their after-after-hours parties but, without anything to attend before, that doesn’t seem likely since part of their appeal was that they were the last stop.
As for the other Friday-night, agent-hosted fetes of Endeavor’s Ari Emmanuel and CAA’s Bryan Lourd, no word on whether those will go ahead. But the intimate at-home gathering might be a popular option for post-show Oscar night, especially given the limbo the award show’s talent bookers are in because of the writers’ strike and whether stars will even march the red carpet. If the uncertainty goes on too much longer, potential presenters might make other plans altogether and not be able to scurry to the ceremony at the last minute if the writers’ strike is settled. “They very well could be watching from a hotel room in St. Barth’s,” said one insider. — Marcy Medina
CARLA CHRONICLES: A few days after her 40th birthday and her marriage to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Carla Bruni is generating plenty of type. French publishers rushed two biographies about Bruni to bookstore shelves on Wednesday, and a third tome is due out on Valentine’s Day. But after all that has been written in the French and international press since the beginning of her love story with Sarkozy, often called “the French soap opera,” it seems there is not much new to say about the singer and ex-model’s life. All three biographies recount her rosy childhood in Italy and France, her successful modeling career, her numerous romantic escapades and her transformation into a singer (she is currently recording her third album). Thierry Coljon describes her as a smart, determined and talented woman in his “Carla Bruni: The Queen of Hearts” (Luc Piré), while in “Who Is She Really?” (Privé), Christine Richard and Edouard Boulon-Cluzel wonder how the free-spirited man-eater got tricked into married life. But the latter authors note she was the one who asked Sarkozy, “Got a car?” the first night they met. In “Dangerous Liaison Chronicle” (Scali), Paul-Eric Blanrue and Chris Laffaille suggest Bruni’s class and education will be of some help to Sarkozy, whom they call President Bling-Bling. They note, for example, Sarkozy traded his Rolex in for a Patek Philippe. — Chantal Goupil
OUT OF TOUCH: These are tough times for the tabloid set, with Bauer Publishing hit hardest. Most celebrity weeklies saw flat or falling newsstand sales in the second half, according to a report in the New York Post, except Us Weekly and OK. People, Us Weekly, In Touch and Life & Style all raised their cover prices in the fall, but it appears Bauer’s titles suffered the most from the move. After several years of rapid growth and soaring newsstand sales, Bauer said Wednesday that it would cut the rate base for In Touch to 1 million from 1.2 million, and Life & Style will decrease its rate base to 550,000 from 700,000. Both moves are effective immediately. Moreover, Life & Style will miss its rate base for 2007, reporting a total paid circulation of 681,723 for the period. In Touch, meanwhile, reported a total paid circulation of 1,271,354 for the period, surpassing its rate base. Bauer raised the prices of In Touch and Life & Style to $2.99 in October, a 50 percent increase. In September, People raised its cover price to $3.99 from $3.49, and Us Weekly followed suit several weeks later. “Like any product, if you increase your price 50 percent, you’re going to feel an impact inevitably,” said Ian Scott, president of Bauer Advertising Sales, who also noted that the price hikes have helped generate healthy revenues for the company.
More drama also ensued for Bauer on Wednesday, when a report on complex.com circulated that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is supposedly investigating former West Coast editors who allegedly took money in return for selecting photos to run on In Touch’s cover. A spokeswoman for Bauer responded, “This whole story sounds ludicrous. Our West Coast bureau does not assign photo agencies — this goes through our photo desk. In Touch has not been contacted by the FBI.”
As if that news wasn’t enough to keep Bauer staffers buzzing, on Wednesday, Neil Goldstein resigned as publisher of Life & Style to join Maxim as associate publisher. A replacement has not been named.
— Stephanie D. Smith
AS LONG AS TIME PERFORMS, FINE: During his first earnings call as chief executive officer of Time Warner Inc., Jeff Bewkes said there will be a cost reduction in the corporate office. A spokesman later confirmed that 100 people will be let go from corporate headquarters and more cuts could be on the way for New Line Cinema. There is currently no timetable as to when changes will happen (which could include more layoffs). Bewkes also said AOL would split its Internet access and advertising businesses and, depending on what happens in upcoming negotiations, Time Warner Cable could be spun off.
As for Time Inc., Bewkes started out by noting the division is “good at publishing,” and as it expands in more areas, such as digital, he believes that it can turn into a strong growth business. He noted, however, that its future at Time Warner will depend on how that is demonstrated to investors, among others. Revenues at Time Inc. for the fourth quarter rose 1 percent to $1.5 billion, while operating income before depreciation and amortization increased 2 percent to $414 million. At Time Warner overall, revenues were up 2 percent to $12.6 billion and adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization jumped 16 percent to $3.5 billion over the fourth quarter in 2006. Net income dropped 41 percent to just more than $1 billion. — Amy Wicks
THE WORLD OF RALPH: In November, Ralph Lauren recruited Departures associate editor Matt Trainor to be editorial director of ralphlauren.com, and now the fruits of his labor have emerged. Originally launched in 2001, the online magazine RL has been relaunched as part of what a spokesman for Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. described as “‘merchantainment’ — a world where our customers can shop for our products, explore rich content [and] exclusive editorial and interact with the Ralph Lauren brand all at the same time.” The new issue is a typical glimpse into the Ralph Lauren universe — an interview with Georgina Bloomberg and her horse-jumping prowess, and stories on wine and spirits, luxury cars, grooming, travel and philanthropy. In contrast to those who believe promulgating luxury goods is best done in print, the magazine is and will remain online only. — Irin Carmon