HOW MUCH FOR THAT WEEKLY IN THE WINDOW?: Newsweek: hot commodity or waste of money? The answer depends on the day and who is talking (media observers are unenthused, while big-pocketed billionaires and private-equity players curiously claim they are interested in taking on the beleaguered newsweekly). As the first round of bidding closed Wednesday at 5 p.m., there were two definite prospects: Christopher Ruddy of Newsmax Media, and OpenGate Capital, which employs former Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. chief executive officer Jack Kliger and owns TV Guide. Both parties submitted bids to Allen & Co., the firm handling the auction. A spokesman at Newsmax Media said that if the company acquires Newsweek, the title would continue with its editorial mission and publish objective news reporting and analysis (Newsmax publishes a conservative monthly magazine).
Other bidders reportedly include Sidney Harman, founder of sound systems company Harman Kardon, and Thane Ritchie, head of Ritchie Capital Management. It’s well documented the winning bidder will face an uphill battle to turn around the money-losing Newsweek. The title was down 30 percent in ad revenue last year, and Media Industry Newsletter reports that, year to date, Newsweek’s ad pages have declined almost 6 percent and that the magazine lost $28 million last year alone.
So where does that leave the price tag? Well, so far sources are fairly tight-lipped — placing the winning bid somewhere between the $1 that OpenGate paid for TV Guide (although it borrowed billions to buy it) and the $5 million plus significant debt that Bloomberg shelled out for BusinessWeek. Now on to the second round.
— Amy Wicks
JAPAN’S DEPOSED FIRST LADY STILL IN VOGUE: Anna Wintour is planning to get her money’s worth with regards to an Annie Leibovitz shoot and story she commissioned on Miyuki Hatoyama, the kooky wife of Yukio Hatoyama, who, until Wednesday, was the prime minister of Japan. (After less than a year in office, Hatoyama said he would step down following low approval ratings and alleged broken campaign promises.) Vogue is said to have dispatched a group, which included Leibovitz and executive fashion editor Phyllis Posnick, to Japan in late April to shoot Miyuki, who, among other things, is notable for claiming she was abducted by aliens 20 years ago. In her book “Very Strange Things I’ve Encountered,” published in 2008, the now former first lady of Japan (and one-time actress) reportedly wrote, “While my body was asleep, I think my soul rode on a triangular-shaped UFO and went to Venus.” A spokesman for Vogue confirmed the story on Miyuki Hatoyama is still slated for the August issue — the magazine’s annual Age Issue — saying, “We still plan to use the photos because the issue is about starting over.”
— Nick Axelrod
TO ITS OWN BEAT: The brand-obsessed brains at Elle — whoever’s left, that is — clearly understand the ever-increasing need to find new revenue streams (e.g. MTV’s “The City”). The latest example arrives June 9, when the magazine is set to host a concert at the Highline in New York to mark its third annual “Women in Music” issue. Kelis, The Like, and DJ Justine D. (aka Justine Delaney) — all of whom are featured in the July portfolio — will perform. (Cover girl Rihanna, Ke$ha, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera and Charlotte Gainsbourg are also profiled, though they won’t be taking the stage.) The “Women in Music” idea mirrors the title’s November “Women in Hollywood” issue and glittery companion event — an awards ceremony held annually in Los Angeles. The magazine took over these hosting duties three years ago from fellow Hachette title Premiere, which folded in March 2007.