NOT IN THE PLANS: The job cuts feared at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. came in a rather unexpected place: On Monday, after eliminating a handful of jobs Friday, the company said it was discontinuing publication of Blueprint, the bimonthly young women’s lifestyle magazine launched in April 2006. It will cease being a stand-alone title after the January/February issue, but sources said Blueprint may live on as an sponsored onsert or insert to Martha Stewart Weddings, depending on advertiser interest. Bluelines, its blog, will live on. While senior staff were retained — editor in chief Sarah Humphreys, design director Deb Bishop and publisher Amy Wilkins — and chances were considered good for longtime MSLO employees, sources said most of the more junior staffers were let go and told to check in over the next few weeks for any openings at the company. While an MSLO spokeswoman could not give a total for the number of people expected to lose their jobs, the Blueprint masthead lists 45 people on the editorial, production and design sides of the magazine. On Monday afternoon, after Martha herself had visited the staff and expressed her regrets, Humphreys took them to the Half King for lunch to drown their sorrows.
The move was somewhat of a surprise since Blueprint planned to raise its rate base early next year, to 450,000, and it recently made four editorial hires. (One, Jen Renzi, formerly a senior editor at House & Garden, hadn’t even started yet.) But there were some warning signals. In a conference call in August, MSLO chief executive Susan Lyne said the company would reallocate $10 million previously earmarked for Blueprint into Internet efforts and the bottom line. And it was unclear how much advertising traction the magazine had. Recent issues were dominated by automotive and mass beauty ads. This year saw tough times for both magazines aimed at younger women, like the now-departed Jane, and shelter titles, with advertisers spooked by the housing market’s woes and the closing of House & Garden.
In fact, In Style Home, which published two issues this year, ceased publication with its October issue, though it managed to do so without attracting much outside notice. “Although our Home newsstand numbers were excellent among the shelter set, we were not meeting all of our business objectives,” said an In Style spokeswoman. No staff members were affected, she said. (It would appear the main signs of life in the sector are the tepidly received Men’s Health Living, and Vogue Living.)
Even as MSLO has retreated from its pitch to younger readers, Stewart herself is said to be energetically involved in the launch aimed at older readers. According to sources with knowledge of the project, the working title is M, which also happens to be the name of Macy’s magazine — Stewart designs a line of home goods for the department store — and is also a copyright owned by Condé Nast’s GQ, subsequent to the closure of Fairchild’s M magazine. Stewart’s first choice of title was said to be Grace, but that was already shared by several Christian magazines and a magazine “for Memphis women of color.” A table of contents for the magazine is circulating within the company (one source cited a roundtable billed on the TOC as: “Martha Stewart, three friends, a bottle of wine, and a burning issue: sex after 50.” A prototype is expected next spring, followed by a test issue in the fall. The company declined to comment on it.
— Irin Carmon
POSH RAISES ELLE: Though Victoria Beckham rarely smiles for the cameras, the paparazzi apparently still have respect for the Spice Girl. During her photo shoot in Paris for Elle’s January issue, the paparazzi followed her to each location, snapping pictures and distributing them to blogs before Beckham could change into a new look. After chasing her through the Paris streets, they decided to show their gratitude. “When we finished and she went into the motor home and changed, the paparazzi — maybe a dozen or so — stood around the motor home in a semicircle, with their cameras at their feet and applauded her for being so gracious all day,” said a source on the set. Beckham and Elle editor in chief Robbie Myers appeared on “Larry King Live” Monday night to promote the issue.
— Stephanie D. Smith
COUNTERATTACK: In response to the major fashion industry investigation conducted by the Italian TV program “Report” on Dec. 4, which alleged nebulous ties between advertisers and editorial coverage, Franca Sozzani, editor in chief of Vogue Italia and L’Uomo Vogue, shared her point of view in her first-ever TV interview broadcast live on Friday by Italian TV talk show “Le Invasioni Barbariche” (“The Barbarian Invasions”). The popular TV program, which is known for its face-to-face interviews, aired a 30-minute live session in which Sozzani answered to the claims on “Report” that she shuns Italian studios, photographers (except for her son, Francesco Carrozzini) and stylists in favor of foreign ones. Another sticky point addressed was that of journalists, fashion editors and art directors giving professional advice in exchange for payment. “I’ve worked in this business for 20 years and I wouldn’t be so respected if I weren’t completely free to decide what to publish in my magazine, without any advertising influence,” said Sozzani. “And I still believe that Milan is the most important fashion week, so I privilege Italian houses. In terms of photography, I have put together a winning team that includes foreign people, just like Real Madrid [the soccer team] doesn’t only depend on Spanish players.”
— Chiara Hughes
MORE GLAM: Glamour has spun off yet another iteration of its “Reel Moments” film franchise with a documentary version of the reader-inspired series, called “Reel Docs.” The marketing program will produce three or four documentary films of real women achieving their wildest dreams, based on stories from Glamour readers. The films will be directed by A-list talent yet to be determined, and will be sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger, which will use the platform to launch its fragrance, Dreaming. The event will kick off with a casting call Thursday afternoon in New York’s Columbus Circle, where the designer and Glamour fashion editor Suze Yalof Schwartz will hear women pitch their dreams for development. Readers also will be able to upload their entries at glamalert.com/dreamingcontest. The films will be released in June, and appear in Tommy Hilfiger stores, on its Web site and on glamour.com.
For Tommy Hilfiger, who will be an executive producer of the “Reel Docs” films, the effort aligns with the target audience for the fragrance. “The woman wearing [Dreaming] is the Tommy girl grown up. She’s more refined and sophisticated, more elegant, more polished,” he said.
Any magazine publisher will repeat with vigor that advertisers are looking for multiplatform venues to bring their mission statements to life — and buzz generated from ties to Hollywood or pop culture are of high interest. “Those days of just putting your logo on something are gone,” said Glamour publisher Bill Wackermann. “Reel Moments,” which also includes the original “Reel Moments” scripted series and “Reel Music” program for budding musicians, has helped to bring in new business to Glamour and deepen relationships with advertisers, all while adding an estimated “tens of millions of dollars” to Glamour’s bottom line, according to sources close to the franchise. Tommy fragrance, for example, had not been an advertiser with Glamour since Wackermann joined the magazine four years ago.
“Many magazines are always looking for marketing vehicles and partnerships with brands, but I don’t want to do what everyone else has done, and what everyone else is doing,” said Hilfiger. The brand was one of the first to put musicians in its ads, “but everyone does it now, so it’s not so interesting to me anymore.” Hilfiger also explained: “The independent film is more interesting than the commercial films because young, independent directors have more creativity and a lot more room to move.”
The films also have had lives beyond promotional tools for their sponsors. “Reel Moments” film “Welcome,” directed by Kirsten Dunst, was selected for this year’s Sundance Film Festival, as was the Gwyneth Paltrow-directed film, “DealBreaker” in 2005.