BONNIE’S TAKE: When Bonnie Fuller launched Mail.com Media Corp.’s celebrity Web site HollywoodLife.com the week before Thanksgiving, she had no idea how serendipitous the timing would be. Fuller had planned all along to unveil the site at the end of November to capitalize on the premiere of “New Moon,” a movie from the “Twilight” franchise that was expected to be a huge draw for her intended audience of 18- to 35-year-olds. But then Tiger Woods crashed into a tree. “We obviously could have never predicted what would happen with Tiger Woods,” said Fuller, sitting in her new office in Midtown Manhattan. “Women became obsessed with the news and we were very fortunate to have both events happen in the beginning.”
HollywoodLife.com has steadily drawn readers, garnering nearly two million uniques in February. And Fuller claims the site’s traffic has been ahead of where she expected it to be at this point. “Of course, there have been surprises — the biggest had to do with getting the site built and how demanding and precise it is,” she said.
This story first appeared in the March 26, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
And the site remains a work in progress: Fuller is still waiting for additional online tools to make it more interactive and revamp the photo galleries. “We can’t do them as effectively as we want. We want to naturally create more aggregated pages for our material, but it just takes time,” said Fuller, who is known to be notoriously impatient from her days as an editrix of a long list of women’s magazines, most recently serving as executive vice president and chief editorial director at American Media Inc., publishers of Star and Shape.
Perhaps it was her impatience that motivated a move to the Web (she left AMI in May 2008, ostensibly on her own terms). “My audience of women have been migrating there [online] in such large numbers and, as someone motivated by the news, I was growing increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t be immediate in print,” said Fuller. “I was in the news business and felt there was a great opportunity to meet my readers’ needs online. I did originally start in the news business. It’s addicting. It’s adrenaline producing.”
The site has Fuller written all over it, with its punchy lines and 360-degree celebrity focus. And for a woman who raised many a star’s ire during her time at Us Weekly and AMI, she’s surprisingly avoiding snark (perhaps leaving that field to company stablemate Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily). “We will call something out, but in the way a friend would. We can be funny but we don’t go after people. We focus on the celebrities they love and, if they are really interested, we go into obsessive detail. Women can be very obsessive about the things they care about, so we’ll do that until we sense they are no longer interested,” she explained.
Fuller aims to speed up reader engagement via partnerships with other sites. She lists Popeater, Moviefone, AOL TV, iVillage, E Online, Huffington Post and Betty Confidential as sites that often repost stories from HollywoodLife. The Huffington Post recently has began posting the first few paragraphs of items, which are linked back to HollywoodLife. Fuller is also active on Twitter (she has more than 8,700 followers alone, while HollywoodLife has more than 4,500 followers).
Since HollywoodLife launched, it has featured ads from brands such as Old Navy, Cover Girl, Showtime, AT&T and Sony Pictures. When asked if the site is making money, Fuller said: “It certainly will, but it’s only been a few months.”
And, as the queen of cover line teases, Fuller hinted that she is working on something major and the first expansion of the site is under way, but declined to provide details.
— Amy Wicks
GIVING ’EM ELLE: Elle.com is bulking up. The site has lured Keith Pollock from Brant Publications, where he was executive editor, online, to become editorial director of elle.com, effective April 13. Pollock was at Brant for a year and a half, during which time he oversaw the redesign and relaunches of the company’s three Web properties — interviewmagazine.com, artinamericamagazine.com and themagazineantiques.com. This will be Pollock’s second tour of duty at Hachette Filipacchi Media, where he served as executive editor of elle.com and then executive editor of the women’s digital group (which included elle.com, as well as ellegirl.com, premiere.com, womansday.com and pointclickhome.com) between May 2007 and June 2008.
As editorial director of elle.com — a newly created position — Pollock will oversee the Web site’s staff, including executive editor Anna Pezik, and will report to a new name (and title) on the Elle masthead, Ted Nadeau, general manager of Elle Digital Group. Nadeau, formerly the senior vice president and general manager of Condé Nast Digital, joined Hachette earlier this year.
— Nick Axelrod
MAYBE NOT, THANKS: Neal Boulton will not be taking on an editor at large title at OK magazine. Boulton told WWD he’s bowed out of the running and will focus on editing his site, Bastardlife.com, which has TV and book projects in the works.