NOT FOR ABC: Bob Iger, president and chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Co., acknowledges that ABC is at a disadvantage because it isn’t linked with a 24-hour news cable network — but that doesn’t mean he’s interested in pursuing a future cable partnership à la the reported talks between CBS and CNN. As operations such as CNN or MSNBC drive more traffic to their respective Web sites, Iger said that fact just “puts more pressure online” (with abcnews.com) to meet the challenge. “People at ABC News control their own destiny,” he said.
As for those CBS-CNN discussions reported Tuesday in The New York Times, Iger claimed ABC News passed on a deal with the Time Warner-owned news channel, in part because he doesn’t want to farm out its news.
This story first appeared in the April 9, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Iger’s comments came during an interview with Ken Auletta at the Plaza, for Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications breakfast, held in conjunction with The New Yorker and Condé Nast.
Turning from news to entertainment, Auletta asked Iger whether ABC could pick up Jay Leno after his contract with NBC expires next year (ABC was interested in David Letterman years ago). Iger declined to comment and deflected the question to Anne Sweeney, president of Disney-ABC Television, who didn’t respond.
Iger addressed the economy and its impact on Disney. So far, he said advertising “is pretty robust,” although only 20 percent of revenue comes from advertising. And the theme parks have had the benefit of more international tourists, in addition to the U.S. middle class, which is traveling more domestically than overseas.
More than 300 attended the breakfast, including the Carlyle Group’s Norman Pearlstine; Wenda Millard, president of media at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.; Sony Corp.’s Howard Stringer; John Sykes, who is leaving MTV, and several affiliated with Iger, including George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN, and David Westin, president of ABC News.
— Amy Wicks
NOT QUITE THE PULITZERS, BUT…: The New York Times lost out to The Washington Post in terms of winning the most Pulitzers on Monday, but when it comes to New Media, the Times clearly has the edge. The Webby Award nominees were unveiled Tuesday, and the Times led all Web sites with 16 nominations for categories ranging from best news to best visual design. (The Post’s site, meanwhile, got none). Nominees span more than 100 categories, including fashion and beauty. In the category for best fashion site, the nominees were gq.com; Style.com; the Louis Vuitton Core Values Web site; the site for Bean Pole: “One Fine Day in London,” and Refinery29’s site.
For best beauty and cosmetics site, the nominees were covergirl.com, nivea.com, L’Oréal Paris’ site, Clearasil-May Cause Confidence’s Web site and The Lynx Effect’s site. More than 80 judges, including Dennis Valle, vice president of Interactive at Dolce & Gabbana, are evaluating the sites. Winners will be revealed May 6 and honored at a ceremony in New York on June 10.
A NEW YARD: Atlantic Media, owner of The Atlantic and National Journal, is close to selling its controlling stake in 02138 magazine to Sandow Media, WWD has learned. A spokesman for Sandow confirmed that the deal was in its final stages, but said it had not closed.
The Boca Raton, Fla.-based Sandow Media acquired Worth magazine, its first New York property, from Curtco Media in February for an undisclosed price, and also owns the plastic surgery-oriented NewBeauty magazine. The spokeswoman declined to say whether the 02138 staff, which moved just over a year ago from Cambridge, Mass., to New York City, would move to Worth’s Midtown West offices, as a source indicated.
Aimed at Harvard graduates, the magazine 02138 billed itself as “the Vanity Fair of Harvard” when it was launched by two young graduates of the university under the aegis of David Bradley’s Atlantic Media in fall 2006. It had a controlled circulation of 100,000. Publisher Meredith Kopit left last month to be group publisher of ForbesLife and ForbesLife Executive Woman. During her tenure, the magazine picked up advertising from Polo Ralph Lauren, Vacheron Constantin watches and Maybach, among others, though exact ad page counts were unavailable. According to the magazine’s media kit, a fashion issue was planned for this fall.
John Galloway, president of Atlantic Media, did not return calls.
— Irin Carmon
FILLING THE BLANKS: While Domino considers spin-offs such as books, television shows and perhaps even a furniture line, its first priority is making sure it has enough staffers to handle the magazine’s duties. So it has bumped up two editors and brought in a freelancer to fill out the magazine’s masthead. First, Kate Bolick was named Domino’s executive editor, the first person appointed to that position since the magazine’s inception in 2005. Bolick was previously features editor at Domino and had been a staff editor at The Atlantic Monthly prior to joining the home title. Meanwhile, Ruth Altchek was promoted to features editor from senior editor. Also, Bess Wong was named art director. She and current art director Hilary Fitzgibbons will have the same title. Wong was freelancing at the magazine prior to her full-time gig.
— Stephanie D. Smith