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AGE ISN’T EVERYTHING: On the one hand, having Téa Leoni on the cover of your magazine the week her separation from David Duchovny is confirmed is fortuitous timing. On the other hand, she didn’t exactly dish on it to More, which features her alongside Sharon Stone and Jane Fonda for its 10th-anniversary issue in November. In the article, Leone declined to comment on what was already known at the time — Duchovny’s treatment for sex addiction — or on her marriage at all, but she was frank on other points. “The red carpet makes me feel like a bulls–t artist,” she told the magazine. “I don’t hang with anybody who stalks press.”
Meanwhile, a near-unrecognizable Stone complained she wasn’t getting enough of the red-carpet treatment. Remembering what it was like to turn 40 a decade ago, Stone said: “I couldn’t get a dress — or a job.”
Elsewhere in the issue, 10 notable over-40 women, including Liz Smith and Daisy Fuentes, wear “Own Your Age” T-shirts produced in collaboration with Talbot’s, with a portion of the profits from their sale going to the National Women’s Law Center.
S&P BEARISH ON PRINT ADS: Add Standard & Poor’s to the growing list of industry watchers down on print advertising, at least for now. “High debt levels, migration of ad spending to the Internet, declining newsstand sales and mature industry growth prospects suggest a near-term decline in credit risk,” the ratings service said. S&P expects magazine ad pages to decline through the end of 2008, with “minimal benefit from election-year activity,” it said, adding, “The sector will face continued ad rate challenges, especially given pressure on circulation levels that publishers guarantee to advertisers.”
As for newspapers, S&P expects newspaper revenue and cash flow to continue to drop “at rates that accelerate each quarter.”
“The pullback in advertising dollars has been so dramatic that publishers have struggled to adjust their cost structures,” the agency said. Five out of the nine rated newspaper companies are “CCC,” “signaling a near-term liquidity threat.” The New York Times Co. was placed on CreditWatch in July after the company reported a drop in earnings before interest, taxes, appreciation and amortization of 36 percent for the second quarter, compared with the same period during the prior year.
S&P expects the economic downturn will bottom out in early- to mid-2009 — although it doesn’t expect a pickup in activity until late 2009. “As a result, we expect total ad spending to be minimally higher (0.9 percent) in 2009,” the report said.
— Amy Wicks
THE PRINCESS DIARIES: Rumor has it that tiaras are the new must-have accessory chez French Vogue. According to sources, the magazine has tapped Princess Stephanie of Monaco to guest edit its holiday issue, following in the footsteps of Charlotte Gainsbourg, John Galliano, Kate Moss and Sofia Coppola.
— Katya Foreman
CUTBACKS CUTTING EVEN DEEPER: The economic climate is causing more magazines to cut back. Playboy, in its latest filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said it would slash 80 jobs and will make deeper-than-expected budget cuts. Chief executive officer Christie Hefner wrote in a memo to Playboy employees that the company would cut $12 million in expenses instead of the $10 million it had projected. The trimming involves multiple changes in its business, including outsourcing newsstand sales for Playboy magazine and its special editions, and exiting the DVD business “in phases over a few months.” The company will also significantly reduce travel and entertainment, as well as overtime pay, replace its printed holiday card with an e-card, install energy-efficient lightbulbs, eliminate disposable plastic water bottles and change to a lighter weight of magazine paper. Moreover, Hefner wrote, “based on the company’s performance this year, the management incentive plan will not pay out, and all of us will forgo profit-sharing payments.” As a result of the moves, 80 positions will be eliminated, of which 25 are open positions that will not be filled. Hefner blamed the “steady weakening of the economy, which has greatly exacerbated the existing challenges” of higher production costs and advertisers migrating to other platforms as the cause of the cuts.
But Playboy is certainly not the only publisher feeling the pinch. Luxury magazine publisher Niche Media this week laid off staffers across some of its titles, including Ocean Drive, Los Angeles Confidential, Philadelphia Style and Capitol File. The cuts were part of a reorganization that included consolidating positions in production and accounting to New York for the Niche titles. While the number of those laid off could not be learned, sources say the magazine is hiring people at certain expanding titles: Boston Common, Philadelphia Style and Capitol File are moving from a bimonthly to an eight-times-a-year schedule next year, while Los Angeles Confidential is moving to a 10-times annual schedule from eight times this year.
— Stephanie D. Smith
MALE BONDING: Participants at GQ’s Gentleman’s Fund ball had other things on their minds Wednesday evening, but put them aside to toast the magazine’s charitable initiative to bridge celebrity, philanthropy and its readers. GQ editor in chief Jim Nelson, along with many of the attendees, was itching to see the last presidential debate airing at the same time as the dinner. Mark Wahlberg, representing his Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, raced off after delivering his opening remarks to the crowd. Off to see the debate? “No, no,” he said as he rushed to his black Escalade. “I’m going to help Mommy change the diapers.” Wahlberg’s son, Brendan Joseph, was born Sept. 16.
And when Timbaland arrived late in the evening, he looked like he should have been resting in bed. The musician hobbled out of his SUV (haven’t the GQ Gentlemen gotten the “go green” memo?) clutching his chest, needing several handlers to help him into the venue. “You’re talking to a sick man,” he said, barely able to answer questions. But somehow the ailing singer gathered enough strength to sing three songs to attendees, including Gentleman’s Fund ambassadors Forest Whitaker and Usher, who celebrated his 30th birthday at the event with a cake in his honor at the close.
SO MUCH FOR THE CIRCUS: Looks like James Truman may have given up on his acrobatic eco-friendly circus to go back to writing, at least for now. Truman is returning to his roots at Condé Nast Traveler, penning a piece on music in Africa’s Mali in the November issue. As for what’s happening with his eco-circus, Truman declined to comment.