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NAMING NAMES: As Us Weekly celebrates its honorees for Best Dressed New Yorkers, People will unveil its Best and Worst Dressed List in this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday. Among those celebrated this year will be Freida Pinto, Beyoncé Knowles, Kate Hudson, Reese Witherspoon and the characters from “Mad Men.” But the beautiful ones aren’t the cover story — it was reserved for Patrick Swayze, who died Monday night after a 20-month battle with pancreatic cancer. That may give People a boost over 2008 — when Best and Worst nominees Rihanna, Carrie Underwood and Angelina Jolie were on the cover, the issue sold 1.1 million, a below-average issue for the Time Inc. weekly, and missed its increased 3.6 million rate base the company guarantees to advertisers. Us Weekly also opted to put Swayze on its cover, which will be distributed Friday.
People drew 99 pages of advertising for its Best and Worst Dressed issue, a 17 percent gain from last year’s version, driven by 35 new advertisers including Lancôme, Kors Fragrance, Beckham Fragrance, Vanity Fair and Latisse. That’s the biggest issue so far in 2009, and puts People’s year-to-date total at just 8 percent fewer pages than in 2008, at 2,348. Meanwhile, Us Weekly has three weeks in a row of style coverage that culminates with coverage of its Best Dressed New Yorkers event in next week’s issue. Publisher Vicci Lasdon Rose said the Sept. 21 style issue; the Sept. 28 one, which will cover both New York Fashion Week and the MTV Video Music Awards, and the Oct. 5 issue were sold as a package to advertisers, helping to keep ad pages across the three issues on par with last year. — S.D.S.
WHAT’S COMING?: As Condé Nast editors have left their offices to man the front rows at New York Fashion Week, so, too, have the consultants at McKinsey & Co. The outside analysts the company hired in July to, as chief executive officer Charles Townsend described, “develop new perspectives on optimizing our approach to business, growing revenues and enhancing our brand assets,” have finished their observations within 4 Times Square, where they completed a deep analysis of operations at Vogue and Condé Nast Traveler and used both titles as a model to apply to other magazines at the company. The consultants are continuing to meet with Condé Nast executives, however, and are expected to have a finalized report by next week.
But before any recommendations from McKinsey even arrive, editors and publishers are this week receiving word from chief operating officer John Bellando that their budgets for next year will be significantly reduced. According to insiders, the company aims to cut 20 to 30 percent from each title’s 2010 budget, with the individual editors and publishers tasked to trim those numbers by reducing headcount, expenses, travel and other expenditures. Such cuts will follow a 5 percent reduction in headcount and spending in November, but since that time, Condé Nast has lost a third of its ad paging in the crippling ad recession.
Condé Nast employees are understandably anxious to find out how the budget cuts will be made. Most speculate a number of magazines will change their frequencies; for example, by dropping to 10 issues a year from 12. As for closures, chatter of the fate of several of the poorer-performing magazines has quieted down. Just another angst-filled two weeks left until October, when insiders expect Condé Nast top brass to begin implementing the changes. A Condé Nast spokeswoman declined to comment. — Stephanie D. Smith
DOWN TO THE WIRE: With Bruce Wasserstein out, it appears that Bloomberg LP, a last-minute entry, now could be the front-runner to buy BusinessWeek. Others in the running include Platinum Equity, OpenGate Capital, ZelnickMedia, Mansueto Ventures and Warburg Pincus. Bids were due on Tuesday, but McGraw-Hill Cos. chief executive officer Terry McGraw said Tuesday no decisions have been made and the company is looking at all opportunities. “The interest has been enormous,” said McGraw, while speaking at a Goldman Sachs investor conference in New York. “I think it’s the best journalistic property in its segment.” After the presentation, McGraw told The Wall Street Journal the company also is considering making BusinessWeek an online-only publication or revamping it to make it more lively.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that the company’s adviser, Evercore Partners, is sending around an old memo to entice buyers, stating: “BusinessWeek is in the process of implementing a restructuring based on new processes that were recommended in Q1 2009. The plan, including a reduction in headcount of 20 percent, will result in significant cost savings without comparable risks to the quality of the products and revenue.” Sources at the magazine told WWD no one really knows what’s happening — although the 20 percent figure certainly hasn’t happened, at least not yet.
Within the past year, Bloomberg has been growing its magazine business, hiring Michael Dukmejian as publisher of Bloomberg Markets magazine. Before that, it tapped magazine veteran Norman Pearlstine as chief content officer for the entire company. According to one source, the Bloomberg company reentered the bidding process after executives in the mayor’s office encouraged it to reconsider. — Amy Wicks and S.D.S.
PAY UP: In less than two months, The Wall Street Journal will begin charging for mobile access. Rupert Murdoch, chief executive officer, revealed the news at the Goldman Sachs investor conference on Tuesday. Journal subscribers will pay $1 a week for access on mobile devices, such as BlackBerrys, while those who do not subscribe will pay $2 a week. Those who already receive the print and online Journal will be able to access mobile free of charge. — A.W.
QUICK TURN: Less than an hour after Brian Reyes’ show on Tuesday morning at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the designer was selling pieces from his spring collection. Reyes took the short walk from backstage at the tents to a private suite upstairs, reserved for American Express cardholders who had watched the show from above. After a Q&A session, Reyes presented a few pieces from the collection, for purchase. “It’s a good time to be connecting more with the customers,” said Reyes, who ended up selling several items. “It’s a challenging time and you have to keep moving and presenting different opportunities to everyone.” — A.W.