ODD LAD OUT: Dennis Publishing’s urge to slap the Maxim logo onto whatever it sees fit — hair dye, furniture, and maybe linens — is a boon for its licensees and a bane, several sources close to the company said, for Maxim editor in chief Keith Blanchard.
This story first appeared in the July 18, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
For several years, the sources said, Blanchard has being trying to kick himself upstairs out of his editor’s chair and into a position where he could oversee Dennis’ TV efforts. The company had considered starting its own channel, the Maxim Entertainment Network (MEN, get it?) but has put it on the back burner while Maxim general manager Andy Clerkson considers licensing a line of paint. And Blanchard can’t be envying prankster and former Stuff editor Greg Gutfeld, who did get kicked upstairs to investigate TV ideas for that magazine — and the consensus is it wasn’t a reward.
“Keith has pitched himself as the ultimate brand extension guy,” said one source. “He has a year to achieve something. He’s pretty much taken himself out of the day-to-day handling of the magazine, and they don’t throw money around at Dennis.”
The company’s latest TV effort, the “Maxim Hot 100” special, aired on NBC last month and finished last in its time slot with a rating of 2.6 (“America’s Most Wanted” finished first with a 6.48). “I don’t know how NBC feels about it, but that was a debacle,” said another source. “I know it was summertime, but if that was to be their stepping stone into TV, clearly it didn’t work.”
Blanchard confirmed that “personally, I have more of an interest in the media side of things….In fact, my involvement on the licensing side of things is pretty minimal.” He added that he has increasingly delegated responsibilities to editor Greg Williams while he focuses on the bigger picture, but in defense of the Hot 100 show, he pointed out that it aired at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night, “when our reader was in the shower getting ready to go out.”
Blanchard is following in Gutfeld’s mischievous footsteps in at least one way — the August issue, out next week, includes a page ostensibly from Cosmopolitan instructing Cosmo girls on how to strip for their Maxim-reading boyfriends. “Give your man what a real stripper never would — unless properly compensated — by finishing him off,” it concludes. Does Kate White know? “We haven’t told them,” Blanchard said. “We’re waiting for the phone call.” — Greg Lindsay
TIME TO HIRE: Kate Betts is staffing up and bringing in writers. The newly installed editor of Time’s Style & Design issues is working with art director Terry Koppel, who comes from inside the company. The semiannual fashion supplement’s photo editor is Andrea Ferronato, a former staffer at Vogue and agent at Art Partners. Writing for the magazine will be Joel Stein, Lauren Goldstein, Belinda Luscombe, Richard Lacyo, as well as former Bazaar staffers Kristina Zimbalist and Melissa Ceria. Betts’ old friend Ricky Vider, also a Bazaar staffer, is styling for the magazine. — Jacob Bernstein