ROUND TWO: Us Weekly has caused yet another stir within the celebrity weekly category with an attack on its competition. The magazine, in its new section called “Faux Biz,” this week calls out Life & Style and In Touch on stories they have printed since 2005 on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie‘s relationship. This follows a feature last week where Us Weekly “corrected” false headlines of Star, In Touch, Life & Style and OK!. Why is the Wenner title on this crusade for fairness in celebrity reporting? “The industry of celebrity magazines is the only thriving niche in magazines,” said editor in chief Janice Min. “This sort of blatant abuse on the newsstands of selling covers really threatens the category. The whole idea of faking news is wrong.”
Competitors suspect that there may be other reasons, though. A source at one competitor said, “They’re doing this because their newsstand is down” for the first few months of the year. For the second half of 2006, Us Weekly sold 978,285 copies, third behind People (1.6 million copies) and In Touch (1.2 million), according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. An Us Weekly spokesman declined to discuss the magazine’s newsstand performance, but Min denied that was the motivation behind the new section.
The editor believes publications such as In Touch and Life & Style do more than make mistakes, they fabricate stories to sell copies. “All news-gathering operations” — including Us Weekly — “will make reporting errors and they correct them and endeavor to keep reporting accurately day after day,” said Min. “The difference here is these publications operate on a different level, of fantasy and make-believe. The wholesale practice of fabricating news stories is not what Us Weekly is about. We don’t decide based on no reporting that a couple should split because we want to sell more copies. Us Weekly is synonymous with authority in the category.” Despite the charge, a spokeswoman for In Touch and Life & Style said the magazines stand behind their stories on Brad and Angelina.
But instead of a spread inside the magazine calling out tall tales, why not use your authority in the field to write the true story and feature it on your cover so the consumer buys Us Weekly over its competitors? “[This was] the best way to hammer out the fact that there’s a long line of fiction being perpetrated,” she explained.
Min said “Faux Biz” would be a regular feature. Next week’s subject? “The whole world of fake pregnancies might be something we explore down the road.” — S.D.S.
BACK IN ACTION: Former Us Weekly correspondent Katrina Szish has landed at In Style as national correspondent, contributing to both the magazine and Web site, as well as appearing on television segments. Szish will take her new position on Monday, reporting to managing editor Charla Lawhon. Szish most recently worked at Us Weekly as a contract employee, but was let go after hosting a show on ABC’s broadband outlets using guests from competing celebrity publications without identifying her Us Weekly affiliation. Prior to her stint at Us Weekly, Szish wrote columns for Vogue and GQ and contributed to Style.com, Glam.com, Marie Claire and Harper’s Bazaar. — S.D.S.
WHAT A GROUP: So much for the return of the model. Time Style & Design editor Kate Betts recently joined a Departures fashion shoot with an extra-large cadre of notables, including Rachel Roy, Annabel Tollman, Nina Griscom, Bergdorf Goodman‘s Linda Fargo, the Marchesa designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, Evan Yurman, Seventh on Sixth’s Fern Mallis, Sirio Maccioni with two of his three sons and Lucy Sykes, Euan Rellie and their brood. (Jacquetta Wheeler represented for traditional mannequins.) The fairy-tale forest set, designed by contributing editor David E. Monn, apparently also had room for two members of the Olympic crew team, players from the American soccer league, dancers from the American Ballet Theater — and several ducks trained for Aflac ads. “They were fabulous,” said Departures editor in chief Richard Story. “They kept running into the mirrors.” (The ducks, not the dancers.) The set later played host to a party with Roaring Twenties touches, and the spread, shot by Keith King, will run on 12 pages in July. — Irin Carmon
HOME SWEET HOME: Evidently the perks of being a Condé Nast editor in chief go beyond car service and hefty expense accounts — they also include redecorating tips. While Allure editor in chief Linda Wells‘ home was simply featured in the March House & Garden, Self editor in chief Lucy Danziger got Domino’s help in redecorating her new Long Island vacation home in three weeks’ time, as seen in Domino’s May issue. (Besides their shared corporate parent — also WWD’s owner — the two magazines have Domino publisher Beth Fuchs Brenner, formerly of Self, in common.) But there was little fabled excess at hand. As is Domino’s wont in makeover stories, Danziger and her husband paid for the pieces, many ordered online from sources such as Restoration Hardware, Ikea and Pottery Barn. And Domino takes care to note the relatively modest budget, described by Danziger in the magazine as being “as little as we dared….We spent a boatload for the view.” The Self brand is also manifest: “When the Danzigers aren’t bodysurfing (Josie) or skim-boarding (Julian) they’re loafing about outdoors,” reads the copy, referring to Danziger’s children. Synergy knows no limit. — I.C.
office space: O, which lost any claim to being the Susan Lucci of the National Magazine Awards when it won last week for Leisure Interests after seven nominations in previous years, has added several staffers. Kate Julian has joined from The New Yorker and will be a senior editor; Jessica Matlin, formerly of Allure, is now beauty editor, and Celia Barbour is the food editor. (She previously freelanced for The New York Times and others). The magazine also has added John Hastings, previously deputy editor at Prevention, as a contributing editor, and has landed “Vagina Monologues” author Eve Ensler to write a new interview column, “A Million Ways to Save the World.” Starting August, former “Sex and the City” writer and executive producer Cindy Chupack will begin writing an advice column on relationships, sex and love. — I.C.