BLUE’S QUEUE: Executives at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia are lining up potential replacements for Blueprint editor Rebecca Thuss, who abruptly left the company last month just before the launch issue hit newsstands. And, logically, one of the first people they called was that other upper-level lifestyle editor who walked off the job in early April: Real Simple’s former director of editorial development Elizabeth Mayhew. “I’m talking to a lot of people,” Mayhew said. “I’m not sure where I’ll end up.” She added that her MSLO talks were not at all limited to Blueprint.
Freelance editor Amy Goldwasser had a “friendly lunch, not an interview” with someone from MSLO this week to discuss the Blueprint position. Jason Oliver Nixon of Niche Media has been in twice about the job in the past two weeks. Friends of James Ireland Baker, executive editor at Real Simple, said they believed he had gotten a call. And Angela Matusik, the former editor in chief of Budget Living who is currently working on Web projects for People magazine, went in for an interview to talk about MSLO jobs about a month ago, before Thuss’s departure was made public.
A spokeswoman for the magazine said, “We’re interviewing many candidates right now, with a wide range of experiences and backgrounds.” However, one outside editor countered, “They’re having trouble getting people in because it’s an editor not editor in chief type situation, and reporting to [editorial director] Margaret Roach isn’t all that appealing.”
“My completely subjective, just-me gut read is that they’re looking for someone to put on TV, a figurehead more than an editor,” said another editor familiar with the search. “But boy do they need someone who can understand this younger reader.”
— Sara James
TIED OFF: So much for this year’s National Magazine Awards being black tie. The organizers may have wished to lend the 40th-anniversary festivities a swankier air, but they forgot to factor in the desire of professional cool-arbiters to appear more nonchalant than thou. While a few well-known editors, such as New York’s Adam Moss and Lewis Lapham of Harper’s, opted for traditional tuxedos and bow ties, the power move was to flout the dress code — the more flagrantly, the better. Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter looked prepared for a yacht party in a deep blue double-breasted jacket with brass buttons and a tie embroidered with what appeared to be tiny lighthouses. Rolling Stone owner Jann Wenner sported a black suit of wide-wale corduroy. Time managing editor Jim Kelly and New Yorker editor in chief David Remnick both wore plain dark suits, while Time Inc. editor in chief John Huey didn’t even bother trying to blend in. “This is my tuxedo,” he said of his greige pinstriped day suit. Condé Nast, which sends more people to the awards than any other company (it is the corporate home of both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, as well as WWD) apparently felt entitled to set its own dress code; an internal e-mail sent out Monday assured attendees, “Please note that though the invitation states Black Tie … a dark suit/cocktail dress is fine.”
The ceremony itself had surprising emotional resonance, thanks largely to victories in the general excellence category by Harper’s and Time. Lapham announced his retirement from Harper’s last fall, after almost 30 years as its editor, and Kelly is expected to step down later this year, after 27 years at Time, the last five as its top editor. Kelly appeared to be on the verge of tears as he thanked his staff and bosses in the evening’s final speech.
At times, it seemed like the winners were engaging in a humility contest. Some of them clearly had read Simon Dumenco‘s Advertising Age column ridiculing the practice of giving editors all the credit for their staffs’ achievements. Remnick, who drew some criticism after last year’s awards for making five solo trips to the podium, fairly apologized this time for not having writer Elizabeth Kolbert on hand to accept the prize that her series on global warming earned. “She should be here,” he said. “That point is well made, and maybe I’ll make that change soon.” Later, Esquire editor in chief David Granger thanked Lapham, and Moss, accepting a general excellence award for New York, thanked Clay Felker, the magazine’s founding editor.
But the strangest display of self-abasement came when Backpacker won in the “best magazine section” category. After bounding up on stage and planting a kiss on surprised Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker, Backpacker editor in chief Jonathan Dorn offered a bizarre, somewhat backhanded tribute to his Rodale Inc. colleague, Men’s Health editor in chief David Zinczenko. “He does have a flat belly,” Dorn said of the “Abs Diet” author, adding, “He’s probably got the best ass at Rodale, too.” Afterward, David Willey, editor in chief of Runner’s World, offered his take on Dorn’s star-making podium turn: “I was a little upset because he’d told me I had the best ass at Rodale.”
— Jeff Bercovici and S.J.