BUT WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO IS TV: Steven Cojocaru is leaving People.
While the veteran scribe of the Style Watch column occasionally landed in the press for his behind-the-scenes behavior (most memorably, his very public flirtation with Us Weekly during contract negotiations last year), that apparently didn’t lead to his exit.
Cojocaru is headed to NAPTE, the television trade show, to sell his talk show, which sources said is tentatively called “The Insider” and which “Entertainment Tonight” is helping him to develop.
“He was at People for 10 years,” said managing editor Martha Nelson. “We did a lot of good work and we had a lot of fun together. He’s wonderful on television and he has a chance for his syndicated talk show. I hope it takes off.”
“He kinda grows on you,” said one People source, lamenting his exit. “He was the weirdest thing we had.” — Jacob Bernstein
CARGO WITHOUT THE CLOTHES?: When Ziff Davis announced its entry in the 2004 men’s shopping magazine sweepstakes — the freshly named quarterly, Sync — the cognoscenti lumped it in with the other forthcoming geek catalogues from Primedia and possibly IDG. They promptly turned their attention back to what looks to be the main event: Cargo vs. Vitals. (Vitals will be published by WWD’s parent, Fairchild Publications, while Cargo will be published by Condé Nast. Both Fairchild and Condé Nast are units of Advance Publications.)
But don’t believe the (lack of) hype. Ziff seems out to prove that it, too, can be cool through its apparent choice of editor: Tony Romando, the executive editor of Men’s Fitness. Sources close to Ziff said that Romando was informally tapped for the job over Christmas, and is now ironing out the details.
Romando couldn’t be less of a geek. Besides his short tenure at the revamped Men’s Fitness, he’s had tours of duty at Rolling Stone and FHM, where he packaged plenty of short stories aimed at ADD-afflicted men but rarely waxed poetic about plasma-screen TVs. And that’s the point. A source familiar with the magazine said Ziff is positioning Sync as a lifestyle magazine built around gadgets in the same way Men’s Health is a lifestyle magazine built around health. “And I think some people are very passionate about health or about gadgets,” the source said. “I see the magazine, but I don’t see the cover. The Men’s Health cover is an actualization of the reader. I don’t know what you do for a gadget magazine.” Still, the source said, Sync “is a big priority for them. Don’t underestimate what they’re willing to put behind it.” Neither Romando nor Ziff Davis returned calls for comment. — Greg Lindsay
BAILEY (SQUARED): Harper’s Bazaar is doubling down on Baileys at the top.
The magazine soon will receive another British injection after poaching Elle U.K. editor in chief Sarah Bailey, who will fill the deputy editor’s chair at Bazaar that currently is occupied by Jenny Barnett. She’s scooting over to a newly created executive editor position that, for her, at least, is only part time. There’s still a Bailey above her, of course: editor in chief Glenda.
Clearly having decided that Bazaar’s readers do, in fact, read, Glenda’s hired Sarah Bailey (no relation) to be the magazine’s celebrity profiler and articles czar. “She’s supersane,” said a source. “She’s definitely not the wacky fashionista type. I think it’s significant they went for a writer’s editor.” — G.L.
DISNEY DEMOCRACY: Will disney.com and the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland in two years eventually lead to the overthrow of China’s communist masters? Bob Iger seems to think so. Disney’s president offered a few thoughts on the “inevitability” of China’s top-down society being cracked open by media technology at a breakfast Thursday morning in the Condé Nast cafeteria.
Iger shared top billing with MTV chief executive officer Tom Freston and Ambassador Biwei Liu, the non-English speaking consul general of China in New York, who grinned broadly in noncomprehension while Iger quietly compared China’s future with the former Soviet Union’s. Discussing the Chinese government’s commitment to media deregulation, Iger said, “I sense, in dealing with the government…that they want to get there, but they want to get there…at their own pace, in part because they’re trying to avoid chaos. And they looked, I think, very carefully at the experience Russia had, which in effect, [after] the breakdown of communist control, there really was chaos, and to a large extent, there still is.”
Later, at the prompting of moderator Ken Auletta, Iger expanded on the thought: “It’s very hard to prevent people from gaining access to what technology provides. At some point, technology and the desire of the people will win. And I believe the Chinese government knows that and, as I said earlier, I think they’re just trying to contain the pace. But there is an inevitability to it.”
The consul general took Iger’s comments in stride. They were certainly less inflammatory than Rupert Murdoch’s infamous speech, after purchasing Star TV in 1993, that technology posed “an unambiguous threat to totalitarian regimes everywhere.” After being reminded of those words by Auletta, Biwei Liu offered his defense of keeping the Internet on a short leash: “I think you are very much aware that nowadays on the Internet, there is very much fake information, and you cannot tell what is true and not, and sometimes there are rumors spread on the Net, and pornography, and violence,” he said through a translator.
But here, people gladly pay $19.95 a month for that. — G. L.
GROUNDED: Having had financial management issues in the past, former editor of Wallpaper magazine Tyler Brûlé has turned to a veteran for help. Brûlé has lured Jerry Fielder, the former chairman of British advertising agency Leagas Delaney, to his ad agency, Winkreative, as its new ceo. But one question: do you really need an operations guy to tell you that your personal helicopter is too expensive? — J.B.