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BLACK POWER: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and Elvis Mitchell look pretty prescient right now.
When the two men conceived of “The Black List: Volume One,” Barack Obama hadn’t yet declared his intention to run for president. By the time the film debuted on HBO last August, Obama’s campaign was well under way.
This story first appeared in the February 26, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Now, “The Black List: Volume Two” is premiering on HBO tonight, and the concept of a film celebrating the African-American experience takes on new currency.
“You pinch yourself because we have the film-of-the-moment,” said Greenfield-Sanders, who directed “Black List.”
“What’s interesting about it is that people had expectations,” added Mitchell, who conducted the interviews for the movie. “Instead of it being an expository historical overview, [‘The Black List’] is about people who’ve been on the front lines, living it. That takes on a real different aspect now that we have President Obama.”
“Volume One,” an assemblage of short stories on race, struggle and accomplishment featured the likes of Colin Powell, Al Sharpton, Thelma Golden, Chris Rock, Richard Parsons and Louis Gossett Jr. The second installment has figures such as Laurence Fishburne, Kara Walker, Tyler Perry, RZA, Patrick Robinson, Charley Pride, Maya Rudolph and Angela Davis, but the interviews seem to have a lighter tone.
Subjects of both films turned out on Tuesday for an advance screening of “Volume Two” at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.
The second group had no shortage of challenges on the road to prominence. Walker talks about her art being misunderstood. “You could paint a wall of smiley faces and somebody would ask, ‘Why are you so angry?’” she says. RZA reveals that reading comic books helped him escape his impoverished childhood. Gap head designer Robinson says, “Very few people make it in fashion. It’s not very diverse. It’s a tough, tough field.”
— Sharon Edelson
A SEA OF RED: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia posted a net loss of $8 million for the fourth quarter, due in part to write-downs in its publishing segment, compared with a $33 million profit during the same period the prior year. Revenues for the quarter were also down significantly, to $73 million from $118 million in the previous year, which included Kmart contractual minimums and Blueprint. In the media company’s publishing segment, revenues were down 15 percent to $42 million, partially due to lower ad pages, while Internet revenues fell 18 percent to $6 million. Digital ad revenues, however, rose 11 percent year-over-year and page views increased 43 percent.
MSLO wasn’t the only media company suffering Wednesday. The Washington Post Co. also reported its earnings, which included a 77 percent drop in net income to $19 million, due to a hefty impairment charge. Revenues rose 3 percent to $1.16 billion, mainly due to growth at its cable and education divisions. The newspaper division, which includes The Washington Post, reported an operating loss of $14 million, compared with operating income of $25 million the prior year, from expenses relating to a retirement program and impairment charges. Print ad revenue at The Post fell 21 percent to $102 million during the quarter and in magazine publishing — namely Newsweek — revenue dropped 18 percent to $75 million, from fewer ad pages and lower ad rates as a result of a rate base reduction to 2.6 million from 3.1 million.
— Amy Wicks
NEW FACES IN THE CROWD: Diego Scotti, a former Men’s Vogue sales executive, on Wednesday was named as executive director, marketing of Vogue. Scotti joined Men’s Vogue last summer as associate publisher, marketing after a 15-year tenure at American Express, where he held a number of top sales and marketing positions. Scotti served as executive director of integrated marketing for the Condé Nast Media Group since Men’s Vogue closed as a stand-alone magazine in November.
Additionally, Condé Nast filled the publisher slot at Wired by promoting its associate publisher, Howard Mittman. Mittman had been at of Wired since September 2006. He succeeds Chris Mitchell, who was named as publisher of Condé Nast Traveler last week.
— Stephanie D. Smith
ART AND COMMERCE: J. Crew is showing its patriotism in its March men’s wear catalogue. The 32-page book is themed “America the Beautiful” and was shot at classic U.S. locations such as Philadelphia’s historic train station, California’s Route 66 and San Francisco. As part of the theme, Alex Katz, a painter and sculptor known for his contemporary landscapes and portraits, is on the cover. He was photographed in his studio in J. Crew men’s wear.
Jenna Lyons, creative director of the retailer, said the catalogue “is dedicated to celebrating America and spotlighting some of the places and people that make this country great.” The men’s book is expected to hit homes Saturday.
— Jean Palmieri