PICKING UP THE SPLIT: It took patience, but Us Weekly has won its staring match with Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey. After denying a series of Us cover stories saying they were through, the celebrity couple finally went public with their divorce plans last Wednesday night. Us, which first reported the split way back in mid-October, got the scoop on the official announcement, as well, breaking it on its Web site.
To be sure, Us editor in chief Janice Min — and her counterparts at the other celebrity weeklies — would have preferred to get the news a few days earlier, in time to include it in the print edition. Did Min believe Simpson and Lachey timed the announcement to inconvenience the entertainment press? “It’d be naive not to think that was a consideration,” she said.
No one got tripped up worse than Celebrity Living. The American Media-owned title published a cover story last week claiming Simpson and Lachey were set to adopt a baby. Worse yet is this week’s issue, on sale beginning Wednesday: Its main cover line reads “Jessica’s Baby Weight Battle: She’s Finally Pregnant!” The blunder is a product of Celebrity Living’s protracted production schedule, which requires the magazine to close almost a full week before it goes on sale. Sister publication Star also has a cover story on Jessica’s “pregnancy” in the current issue.
Naturally, Min couldn’t resist taking a small dig at the competition. “When it comes down to it,” she said, “the illusion of reporting can never trump actual reporting.”
— Jeff Bercovici
QUICK ADDENDUM: A report in Monday’s WWD that sales of Quick & Simple, Hearst’s new weekly women’s service title, have tailed off since the magazine went weekly in October was not the whole story. A Hearst spokeswoman declined to comment on specific sales estimates for recent issues (between 70,000 and 80,000 per issue, according to an industry source), but did provide a statement: “The final sales for Quick & Simple’s first few weekly issues are significantly higher than what the scanner data indicated. In fact, our most recent issues have doubled October’s sales and we’re delighted with the consumer response to Quick & Simple.”