REALITY TRULY SETS IN: Joanna Coles, editor in chief of Marie Claire, may be a familiar face to the fashion world, but she’ll soon be judged by a whole different collective set when the magazine’s reality show, “Running in Heels,” premieres on The Style Network on March 1. Fashion director Nina Garcia became a household name with “Project Runway,” and she’ll appear in “Running in Heels,” even as she’s continued to film for the much-delayed new season of “Project Runway.” In that show, Garcia will be joined by 20 Marie Claire staffers for the final runway show on Friday, as sources now say that, contrary to rumors — and after much legal action — the new season will air later this year. As for “Running in Heels,” Coles and Garcia — along with staffers including executive editor Lucy Kaylin, senior fashion editor Zanna Roberts and senior shopping editor Zoe Glassner — were followed for nearly five months by four camera crews. “I did get used to the cameras very quickly,” said Coles. “We tried to make it as realistic as possible.” But it is a show, and she admitted some scenes were reshot if the camera didn’t pick something up the first time around. And Coles now gets to watch the rest of her staff on camera and hear their personal conversations. “I found out that there are a few divas here,” she admitted surprisingly — mainly because what would a fashion magazine be without a few divas? That list probably included three new interns who try to one-up one another to catch the eye of Coles and other editors. But for the interns, a harsh reality sets in at the end of the eight episodes: all three go home without a job. Coles maintained the program was never meant to be a competition. “In this economy? No. We weren’t raffling off a job.”
— Amy Wicks
This story first appeared in the February 16, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
SWITCHING STRATEGIES: BlackBook is scaling back its print ambitions and hoping digital guides and mobile applications will do the trick. The magazine, which went from bimonthly to 10 times a year in 2008, is now reducing frequency to eight times a year. Last May, both editor in chief Steve Garbarino and publisher Joe Landry took off in the same week, and the trickle of departures (voluntary and involuntary) since then has been fairly constant. More recently, BlackBook Media Corp. chief executive officer Ari Horowitz reportedly gave publisher Grayle Howlett his walking papers several weeks ago, though a spokesman for BlackBook called it a “mutual decision, representative of a decision to focus on the digital space.” That includes the mobile guides the spokesman said were already “the primary revenue stream” for the company. The spokesman said that rather than hire a new publisher, Horowitz will take over the sales side, with advertising director Brett Wagner serving as associate publisher.
— Irin Carmon
LOTS WRONG, BUT WHAT’S RIGHT?: Panels on the future of media are a standby in this fast-changing age, but lately news seems so bleak that even filling them out can be a challenge, as Gene Stone, moderator of a panel hosted by Out Professionals on Thursday, found when he sought a book industry representative. “No one would even agree to sit in the audience,” he said.
So who did turn out? Former Martha Stewart chief executive and current Gilt Groupe chief executive officer Susan Lyne, who noted that when media is no longer scarce, allowing advertisers to bid up prices for limited space, all previous business models are destabilized; author James B. Stewart, who found some hope in the fact that Manolo Blahnik reportedly makes money on his blog through click-through e-commerce, and television and film producer Mary Murphy, among others.
Plenty of people could point to what went wrong. Lyne said the magazine business had erred in drastically lowering subscription prices to rely heavily on the advertising model, tying its fortunes to advertisers rather than readers. Nathan Richards, the ceo of ContentNext Media, said networks had failed to gain traction on their Web sites, which he said draw fewer readers than newspapers online. And while all the panelists said the prized wall between editorial and advertising was important to journalistic integrity, it had also left many journalists ignorant of how their own business worked (or didn’t.)
Outgoing Wall Street Journal media and technology editor Rich Turner (who recently moved to a gig at WSJ.com) pointed out that it’s more fun now to be a consumer of media than ever, but in terms of news and information, someone was going to have to pay to gather it, and predicted The New York Times would have to make some tough choices. “I watched what happened with the Bancrofts,” he said, referring to the family that controlled the Journal’s parent, Dow Jones, before it was purchased by News Corp. “The discussions about preserving the integrity lasted about 30 seconds.” (He acknowledged the Sulzberger family was a different case, in part because it’s involved in day-to-day operations.)
But when it came to actually predicting the future — say, 10 years hence — few wanted to theorize. “You can’t plan your business for 10 years — it’s more like 18 months,” said Richards. “You have to be ready for uncertainty.”
EASY GOING: Clive Owen has been to his fair share of runway shows in Milan, but he is leaving New York just in time to miss the madness at Bryant Park. After a long stretch of press interviews for his latest film, “The International,” Owen made one of his last official stops before heading back to the U.K. at Esquire magazine’s party on Wednesday night to fete the fifth anniversary of fashion director Nick Sullivan. He was joined by editor in chief David Granger, publisher Kevin O’Malley, David Lauren, Thom Browne, André Benjamin and Fonzworth Bentley.
Owen, who wore Giorgio Armani on the cover of the March issue and also to the party, didn’t make life too hard for Sullivan during the shoot. “He’s the most laid-back actor that I’ve worked with,” said Sullivan, who didn’t name names but added that he has worked with more than a few high-maintenance actors. He said there will be a focus on using models for fashion editorial going forward, but only models that are relatable to the average Esquire reader. And while some magazines are emphasizing budget-conscious options, Sullivan said he isn’t necessarily going to take this approach. “It’s more about finding the right pieces.”
— Amy Wicks