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TEARS AND LAUGHTER: It was high noon Wednesday and time for that annual ritual: the announcement of the American Society of Magazine Editors’ National Magazine Award finalists — causing editors to either avoid rivals’ gazes for the rest of the day or to shamelessly gloat at least until the actual winners are revealed on May 1.
And while there were the usual suspects this time round — The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, National Geographic — there were enough surprises to make things interesting come the black-tie ceremony at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Look at Radar and Portfolio, two titles that face skepticism among media watchers, but that evidently more than pass muster among the peer judges for the awards. Radar, a magazine that is in its third permutation, was nominated for the first time in the prestigious general excellence category, for circulation between 100,000 and 250,000. Portfolio, the Condé Nast startup that has been beset with bad press, was nominated for best magazine section.
The New Yorker and New York, stalwarts of recent years, continued to lead with 12 and nine nominations, respectively. Vanity Fair was strong with six nominations, followed by GQ and National Geographic with five apiece. Esquire, which was nominated seven times last year and won once, did not have as much luck this year, with only one nomination.
Fashion titles didn’t have that much success. W received two nominations — one for general excellence and one for photography — while Elle was nominated for essays and Glamour for general excellence for titles with over 2 million circulation, its fourth consecutive nomination in that category. But Vogue was shut out, as were titles such as Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and In Style.
Some individual finalists were the usual suspects — this year, Christopher Hitchens was nominated for columns and commentary in Slate, having won last year for commentary in Vanity Fair, while The New Yorker’s Louis Menand was nominated for the fifth time.
But there were some underdogs to root for. Good, an independent magazine launched by a group of idealistic (and well-funded) twentysomethings, was nominated twice in its first full year of existence, and Raffi Khatchadourian’s first-ever byline in The New Yorker, written while he was a fact-checker there, was nominated for profile writing. He wrote about the first American charged with treason in over 50 years.
Other first-time nominees included Domino and The New York Times Magazine, which received a total of six nominations for the main weekly and its T style and Play spin-offs. The Times magazine was eligible because ASME moved to include newspaper supplements for the first time this year, a controversial decision since some point out the title isn’t distributed on the newsstand and thus is not subject to the same commercial pressures as other magazines. It also is, unlike its National Magazine Award peers, dually eligible for a Pulitzer. — Irin Carmon
SCREEN SIREN: Simon Doonan’s own life story — immortalized in his memoir “Nasty: My Family and Other Glamorous Varmints” — has had more than a few fashion folks in stitches over the years. Now, the effervescent creative director of Barneys New York will get a chance to share it with many more. Jon Plowman, who produced cult television hits like “Absolutely Fabulous,” “Little Britain” and “The Office,” is turning “Nasty” into a comedy series called “Beautiful People.” Acclaimed playwright Jonathan Harvey is supplying the script for the show, which is scheduled to air on BBC2 in the U.K. this fall.
“I am totally delirious and delighted, and bewitched, buggered and bewildered,” Doonan said on Wednesday. “It’s one of the most surprising, hilarious things to ever happen to me. It’s the real cherry on the cake.”
The book focuses on his childhood in dreary Reading to his pull towards the glamorous fashion world. It is filled with anecdotes, from the years he spent dressed up as a pirate to his being arrested in Los Angeles wearing Vivienne Westwood plaid bondage pants. “It’s a low rent ‘Madame Bovary,'” Doonan said.
Casting is taking place now, and Doonan plans to leave the choice of lead characters to Plowman. Those close to him need not fret of being lampooned on the small screen, however. “The main character is called Simon, but the others have been morphed and evolved and extrapolated to protect the innocent,” Doonan said. “It’s not a poetic, literal dramatic rendering of my life. They took my book and used it as a springboard, with the trajectory of coming from a crap town and ending up in the glamour and fabulousness of fashion.” Could this become the “Are You Being Served?” of the 21st century? — Marc Karimzadeh
MAKEOVER: Reed Elsevier may be shopping around Reed Business Information, publisher of titles like Variety, but the B2B division is doing some shopping of its own and has snapped up French trade press group Cosmédias. WWD previously reported speculation that Reed Elsevier had inked a Cosmédias deal.
RBI plans to develop Cosmédias’ Internet activities through synergies with its other businesses, according to a statement. “The acquisition of Cosmédias is an important step in Reed Business Information’s strategy, developing its product offer with strong brands and new professional content that will benefit from multichannel distribution,” stated Antoine Duarte, president of RBI in France.
Cosmédias publishes B2B beauty titles including ICN, CosmeticNews, Coiffure de Paris and CosmétiqueMag. It also runs Internet sites. — Brid Costello
FORE FOR BROOKS: Taylor Leon, a 21-year-old LPGA golfer, is Brooks Brothers’ first female spokeswoman. Leon was appointed as the brand ambassador for Brooks Bros.’ Country Club Collection and will represent the brand on the golf course. She will make her debut in the Brooks Bros. Country Club spring 2008 catalogue but, so far, there aren’t any plans for ad placement in magazines, said a spokesman. — Amy Wicks