TIME TO MOVE ON: Just two weeks after Time Inc Editorial Director John Huey replaced longtime Entertainment Weekly editor Jim Seymore with Rick Tetzeli from Fortune, one of the magazine’s top lieutenents is departing. Richard Sanders, who was one of EW’s two executive editors, is going over to fellow Time Inc. imprint People as an editor at large. His first project there will be working on the magazine’s Academy Awards book.
While Sanders’ departure from EW did not come as a surprise given that he’d been passed over for the top job — and Huey’s intention to move Seymore upstairs had been written about for months — the magazine’s continued success had led many to believe Seymore’s replacement would come from within its ranks. That perception was bolstered when the company gave Sanders and the magazine’s other executive editor, Pete Bonventre, test drives of it over the summer. When neither of them got the job, Bonventre was promoted to editorial director and Sanders, according to sources, hit the roof.
The attempts to placate Sanders and Bonventre do not seem to have diminished industry speculation as to why Seymore was replaced in the first place, let alone with the deputy managing editor of Fortune, a business publication. “In the last year, they’ve put Martha Nelson in at People and Terry McDonnell over at Sports Illustrated, so Huey can’t leave this one alone,” said one source. “It’s like redoing the kitchen cabinets and deciding that the living room, which is perfectly fine, needs a new couch.”
“The staff has been there for a long time. They’re very close knit and bringing in an outsider feels like a rejection of the work they’ve done,” said another. “It’s like having daddy booted from the table and having an appendage of Huey take over. It’s classic of him.”
When asked why the change was made at EW, a Time Inc. spokesman said that an explanation for the appointment had been sent in an internal memo to the staff. The memo cited the talents of Tetzeli, 41, as a writer and editor as the reason for his apppointment and also professed strong support for Seymore, 59, who was named a Time Inc. editor at large. The memo also listed many of Seymore’s accomplishments and credited his guidance with turning EW into “America’s leading consumer magazine of entertainment and popular culture.” The memo also cited Seymore’s tenure at EW, the second-longest run of an editor at any Time Inc. title.
THE WRITING LIFE: Far from publicity mongers, Sam Shepard and Neil LaBute drew back their velvet curtains Friday night at Shine in Manhattan to shed some light on their work and inspiration.
Each read from his typically itchy work during The New Yorker-sponsored affair — including a clip from Shepard’s forthcoming book, “Great Dream of Heaven: Stories.” As he and LaBute fielded some, er, long-winded questions, including a few more suited for Breadloaf than a TriBeCa bar, his longtime companion Jessica Lange provided some moral support from the front row.
Unlike a few audience members, Shepard was not taking himself too seriously. When one erudite asked him, “As the West continues to change and look more like the rest of the country, do you see your work becoming more or less relevant?” the Pulitzer Prize winner, said, “What was the question? Where are you from? I’m not at all concerned if my work is relevant. Relevant to what? I didn’t set out to be a spokesman for the West.”
Humor and occasionally silence were in order. Laughter erupted when one inquiring mind wanted to know what the writers wear to work in. LaBute offered, “I wear a little number with spaghetti straps. Who’s asking the question? Could you come out into the light, please?” When deadlines loom, LaBute said he is apt to return to his college days, working through the night. (The film version of his latest play, “The Shape of Things,” is expected to make its debut at Sundance.) But writing offers plenty of distractions. “The Oprah show is really interesting when I’m working, especially when I’m staring at the [computer] screen and doing battle with that,” he said. “I’m always thinking about writing. But I only put fingers to the keys when I feel I have something to say.”
BLOW’S NEW SHOW: Isabella Blow has left The Sunday Times to become the fashion director of Tatler magazine.While at the Times, Blow — who is as famous for her Philip Treacy hats as she is for her fashion layouts — became an early supporter of Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, and Jeremy Scott. Blow joined Tatler Monday. She succeeds Harriet Mays Powell, who has taken a leave of absence.
COSMOGIRL’S CAMPAIGN: There’s not much to celebrate in today’s perilous ad- and newsstand-challenged world of teen magazines, so those surviving the game would do well to brag, at high volume, for everyone to hear. That’s what Cosmogirl is doing. The feisty and resilient title, which is up 16.6 percent on newsstands for the first half, according to ABC figures, is launching its first-ever advertising campaign featuring the magazine’s new tag line “Born to Lead.” The ad campaign launches this week in The New York Times, WWD, Cosmetic World, Adweek and Mediaweek. Other promotional elements include taking over the Cosmopolitan office windows on 57th and Broadway, as well as a large poster mailing to the marketing and media community. The campaign will include quotes from teenage girls with messages such as, “Respect her. She may manage your pension fund some day,” and “Be nice to her. She may hire you in a few years.” The gist of these amoral veiled-threat sound bites, one imagines, is that it’s important to treat teenage girls kindly only because they may one day hold sway over your destiny.