MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS: In a heavily scripted evening, an off-the-cuff comment stirred people up. At Tuesday’s National Magazine Awards, guests at Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center were surprised to see that perennial favorite New Yorker editor in chief David Remnick came away empty-handed, despite leading with nine nominations, while New York magazine’s Adam Moss ascended the stage to accept five prizes, two of which he won for the second year in a row. So it was that former Newsweek editor in chief Mark Whitaker commented from the podium, “If brown is the new black, then Adam Moss is the new David Remnick.” The barb drew audible gasps and, later, critical sniping. (Said Details editor in chief Dan Peres, “Remnick is beloved, as you know. It would have been much funnier if it had been about someone we all can’t stand.” Another attendee likened the comment to “a fart going off in the room.”) Moss said, “It’s the kind of thing Mark could say because he’s leaving the industry,” referring to that day’s announcement that Whitaker would take the number-two job at NBC News.
“Adam didn’t seem to mind, but David didn’t seem to have a great sense of humor about it,” Whitaker admitted on Wednesday. Remnick, who reminded WWD that Moss had edited him at Esquire in the mid-Eighties, did joke, “Adam Moss is much better-looking than I am.” He added, “The New Yorker has had the experience that he had last night, and I wouldn’t begrudge [Moss] for a second.” Later on Wednesday, Whitaker, who told WWD he had not intended offense with his unscripted comment, called Remnick to apologize and said his apology had been graciously accepted.
As for other shenanigans of the night:
– Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter elicited winces of another sort when he accepted an award on behalf of his columnist and self-styled rabble-rouser Christopher Hitchens. He said Hitchens was writing a column about self-improvement, and after a manicure, was told waxing was next. When Hitchens asked his editor to elaborate, Carter told him, “There’s something known as the back, the crack, the sack.” Carter told the audience that Hitchens responded, “In for a penny, in for a pound.”
– Told a few minutes after the ceremony that this year had already been dubbed the year of the independent magazines, with wins by the likes of City and McSweeney’s, Moss replied, “Is that what we’re calling it?” Moss, who took over New York three years ago after editing the New York Times Magazine and who recently moved up in the officer ranks of the ASME board to secretary, said he would push for the award eligibility of Sunday magazines like his old home. He said he wanted to change policies to allow, say, writers and photographers to accept the awards their work wins. (By his fourth or so trip, Moss was apologizing and laying on the sheepishness.)
– Shortly after taking the stage, ASME president and Glamour editor in chief Cynthia Leive promised not to refer to the event as the “Oscars of the magazine industry.” And yet guests agreed it was the most highly produced and boldface-studded event yet, only the second ever held at night. In a pre-taped segment, Ellen DeGeneres pored over magazines — some with iconic covers upon which she’d superimposed her own face — and attempted to submit a poem to The New Yorker. Ugly Betty made a cameo. Kevin Bacon helpfully reminded the editors in the room that he had not been on a cover since 1982.
– Leive’s mention of Whitaker’s new gig was a surprise to anyone who hadn’t seen the official announcement earlier that day — including New York Post media columnist Keith Kelly, who jumped out of his seat at the comment and darted for a side door. That apparent urgency might also explain why he erroneously wrote the following day that Leive had been “the first to announce” Whitaker’s move — and the newspaper misspelled her first name.
– Former ASME president Cyndi Stivers, who left her executive position at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia to start a new green media venture, was in attendance but stayed close-lipped about her new project, which even her former boss, Martha Stewart chief executive officer Susan Lyne, professed to know little about. Stivers explained her silence by saying she saw no advantage in publicizing what she had in the works (the anti-Portfolio, perhaps?). As for enlightening the media folk sipping Champagne all around her, Stivers said, “I’ve invested enough sweat in the people here….I know I can call them any time.”
– Two moments that showed a reverence for tradition: Paris Review editor Philip Gourevitch dedicating his magazine’s first award to its deceased founder, the legendary George Plimpton, and Moss accepting a design award from Milton Glaser, the celebrated designer who co-founded New York magazine. One moment that, lightheartedly, did not: “The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists…is a terrible, terrible name for a magazine.” That was Mark Strauss, editor of the 62-year-old magazine, accepting its award for General Excellence.
— Irin Carmon, Stephanie D. Smith and Amy Wicks
TOMMY’S ‘OPRAH’ DEBUT: Tommy Hilfiger appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” for the first time Wednesday to dispel a 10-year-old rumor, which has resurfaced, that the designer doesn’t want to sell his clothes to African-Americans, Jews and Hispanics. The myth claims Hilfiger made these defamatory remarks on Oprah Winfrey‘s show back in 1997, and Winfrey kicked him off the set. However, it was immediately proven that Hilfiger never made those remarks, nor had he ever met Winfrey or appeared on her show. Both parties have spent years dispelling the rumor that took on a life of its own.
“That is the category of what I call a BFL, a big fat lie. [It] never happened,” said Winfrey during Wednesday’s broadcast. “I called him [Hilfiger] personally when the rumors started up again, and said, ‘Let’s dispel this rumor once and for all.'”
Hilfiger said he enlisted the help of outside experts to try to trace the source of the rumor. As for the impact on his life, he said, “It hurt my integrity because at the end of the day, that’s all you have….Forget the money it has cost me. It cost me heartache,” said Hilfiger.
On Wednesday night, Hilfiger received an individual achievement award from the Hispanic Federation at an awards gala, and in September, the designer and his former business partner, Joel Horowitz, will be among the co-chairs at a benefit concert at Radio City Music Hall for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington.
Later that evening, Winfrey told Larry King that she will stop doing her TV show when her contract runs out in four to five years. — Lisa Lockwood
SIGNING OFF: Keith Blanchard, the former editor in chief of Maxim who signed up in October as Wenner Media’s executive director online, has left the company. A spokesman confirmed Blanchard’s departure; his last day was Tuesday. Rolling Stone chief marketing officer Gary Armstrong hired Blanchard to oversee all of the company’s sites and the relaunch of Us Weekly’s Web site, usmagazine.com. Blanchard also revamped Rolling Stone’s Web site and was due to work on the relaunch of Men’s Journal’s site, but had not started. Wenner will not hire a replacement for Blanchard. Editors from both Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal magazines will oversee their respective Web sites, but it is not known when or if mensjournal.com will be relaunched.—S.D.S.
TOUGH FOR TIME: The morning after Time Inc. was shut out at the National Magazine Awards, news of the division’s first-quarter performance probably didn’t help those hangovers. Revenue at Time Inc. decreased $15 million from the same period a year ago, to $1 billion, and operating income before depreciation and amortization dropped $33 million, to $84 million, due to higher restructuring changes, declines at “certain domestic magazines” and non-magazine businesses including Synapse, a company that handles alternative ways of getting magazine subscriptions. Dick Parsons, chief executive officer of Time Warner, said that while he was not happy about “being down at Time Inc.,” he was pleased with the progress on the digital side of the business, such as people.com, cnnmoney.com and si.com. He reported that growth in online ad revenue more than offset declines in magazine publishing revenue. — A.W.
MORE FASHION TV: There’s yet another television show about the fashion industry to clog your TiVo. “The Fashionista Diaries” will chronicle the lives of six assistants charged with putting together a fashion show and after party for Charlotte Ronson during New York Fashion Week in September. The show will chronicle the coffee-grabbing, clothes-fetching administrative duties of entry-level employees at Flirt Cosmetics, fashion public relations firm Seventh House PR and Condé Nast monthly Jane. The one-hour weekly show will air on Soapnet in July and will be produced by Disney’s Buena Vista Productions. Casting for the assistants is said to begin in the next few weeks. — S.D.S.