FALLING OFF THE BANDWAGON: The impact of Us Weekly’s success on the publishing industry has been roughly akin to the effect the 1849 California gold strike had on pickax owners. Now evidence suggests the great celebrity magazine bonanza may be nearing its limits. The latest: On Tuesday, Gemstar-TV Guide International said it was suspending publication of Inside TV after only seven months. The move came as no great surprise; Inside TV had been averaging fewer than 130,000 copies per issue on the newsstand, making its promise of a year-end circulation of 400,000 appear doubtful. The timing, however, caught staffers off guard. As WWD reported last week, Sarah Pyper, a veteran of In Touch and Us Weekly, was heading up a secret project to relaunch Inside TV shortly after Thanksgiving, with plans to shift the emphasis from gossip to service.
A spokeswoman for Gemstar said the company never committed to a relaunch. “The magazine was not performing well on newsstands and it was a newsstand-driven magazine,” she said of the decision to fold. Moreover, she added, “the newly articulated corporate strategy calls for the company to focus its attention on guidance products. Inside TV doesn’t really align with that strategy.” Around 40 staffers will lose their jobs as a result of the decision, including editor in chief Steve LeGrice, although Pyper will stay on as a consultant. Meanwhile, the 80,000 retail pockets previously earmarked for Inside TV will migrate to TV Guide, which recently underwent a relaunch of its own.
Now the question being asked is whether Inside TV’s demise could be the start of a bigger shakeout in the celebrity category. Sales of People, Us and Star have softened slightly in the past two months, a fact publishers chalk up to a combination of high gas prices (which discourage shopping trips), seasonal consumption patterns and a dearth of blockbuster celebrity stories. But these magazines are all well-established. The same cannot be said for Celebrity Living and OK, both of which arrived around the same time as Inside TV. A spokesman for Celebrity Living said the title has been averaging 200,000 copies per issue in November after getting a boost from a 25-cent price promotion. Sources from two rival companies placed OK’s newsstand sales in the same range. “Up until now, the pie has been expanding,” said one executive. “We might have reached the ultimate-size-of-the-pie stage here.”
— Jeff Bercovici
GOING, GOING, GONE: Reports of ebbing morale at Wenner Media LLC persist, as do the high-level staff defections. Men’s Journal just lost its executive editor, Mark Horowitz. Horowitz was the number two under former MJ editor in chief Michael Caruso, who left the magazine in October. In the new masthead arrangement, with former deputy editor Tom Foster returning to Men’s Journal as editor, Horowitz was expected to report to someone he used to oversee. Instead, he evidently walked. Horowitz could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and a spokeswoman for the magazine did not return calls, but a message on Horowitz’s outgoing voice mail confirmed he was no longer with the company.
— Sara James
MORE CHURN AT BAZAAR: Ana Abdul won’t be hanging around to celebrate her one-year anniversary at Harper’s Bazaar. The accessories director, who was formerly co-owner of the New York boutique Language, has resigned after 10 months on the job, according to a spokesman for the magazine. Abdul becomes the fifth director to exit Bazaar this year; the magazine’s beauty, market, photo and bookings director posts all have turned over, as well.