NEW HEAD OF HOUSE: Not every editor in chief gets to handpick their successor, but then, how often does an editor lure Oprah Winfrey to their parent company to start a hugely profitable joint venture?
Good Housekeeping editor in chief Ellen Levine, who helped launch O and is still listed as editorial consultant on the O masthead, is ascending to the role of editorial director at Hearst Magazines, with Rosemary Ellis, the editorial director of Prevention magazine, being named as her replacement, Hearst announced Thursday night. As WWD reported last month, Levine will be Hearst’s first-ever editorial director. She has been at Good Housekeeping since 1994, and also has helped develop several of the company’s launches in recent
years, including Weekend, Quick & Simple and the shuttered Lifetime.
Levine had been interviewing candidates for the Good Housekeeping job for several weeks. She also has been working with the outside design firm FaheyO’Connor on a redesign of the magazine, according to various industry sources. Other names that are said to have come up in the job search are Peggy Northrop, editor in chief of More; Susan Toepher, editor in chief of Quick & Simple, and Isolde Motley, the outgoing corporate editor of Time Inc. (Motley responded in a statement, saying, “I have had a wonderful run at the best magazine company, and I am looking forward to traveling with my family and completing a book on a subject dear to me. I can’t imagine taking another magazine job in the foreseeable future.”)
Prior to joining Prevention, Ellis worked as a consultant.
— Jeff Bercovici and Sara James
CHOP SHOP: There are some problems even celebrities can’t fix. One of them is Shop Etc.’s less-than-stellar newsstand performance. Beginning with its November 2005 issue, the Hearst shopping title switched from all-model covers to stars such as Angie Harmon and Paris Hilton. “What we’ve found in the past 12 months is we’re almost unable to talk about shopping now without talking about celebrities,” editor in chief Mandi Norwood told WWD at the time.
Apparently she found a way, though, because the May 2006 issue, with Katherine Heigl, will be the last to feature an actress for the foreseeable future. A Hearst spokeswoman confirmed there has been “a movement back to product covers.” Shop Etc. also has increased its trim size, from a “catalogue” format to a larger one used by other Hearst titles such as Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar. That change took effect with the April issue. Shop Etc. sold an average of 173,098 copies on newsstands last year, generating a sell-through rate of 27.8 percent.
A women’s magazine editor said she was not surprised to learn of the change, given the B-list nature of some of the actresses who graced Shop Etc.’s cover: “If you go down the celebrity chain far enough, a model actually sells better.”
Cargo, another shopping magazine, also had trouble deciding whether it was better served by models or celebrities. The issue was resolved when Condé Nast shuttered the title in March.
HITCHING POSTS: As if there weren’t already enough bridal Web sites — brides.com, TheKnot.com — a magazine editor is launching another one. New York contributor Tara Mandy has been moonlighting with former Abercrombie & Fitch trend forecaster Meredith Levy on a wedding planning site called Bffbridal.com. The weekly online column and consultancy site went live on Thursday. “Everyone was constantly hitting us up for help planning their weddings,” said Mandy, who covers travel for New York and edited the magazine’s Weddings issues until 2004. “When girls who aren’t in the fashion/media business get engaged, they have no idea where to start in terms of makeup artists, stylists, locations, gowns, etc. My inbox was always flooded with questions about wedding planning — not to mention honeymoon planning, since I’m a travel editor. So we basically decided to turn all that scoop we’re always dispensing into a business….The Knot is an awesome resource, but their taste and content really speaks to a mainstream audience. We wanted to tap into the sphere of upscale, stylish, city brides, who aren’t going to be satisfied with what everyone else has.”