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REAL-ITY BITES: Life’s getting more complicated for Real Simple, or at least more competitive. Just weeks after Real Simple founding editor Susan Wyland launched the look-alike title Weekend for Hearst Magazines comes word that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is also incubating a new magazine. And let’s just say it won’t be offering Martha‘s usual tips on folding napkins into elaborate pinwheels or building doormats out of 165-foot lengths of nautical rope.

The new title, said to be aimed at a twenty- and thirtysomething audience, will likely be a direct competitor to Real Simple with shades of Budget Living and Domino, according to editors who work in the service sector. Like Weekend, the new Omnimedia title is being developed by former Real Simple editors: Tom Prince, Elizabeth Graves and Rory Evans. Sources didn’t know a time line for the launch. “We have a lot of new ideas and projects in development, but nothing to announce at this time,” said a spokeswoman for Omnimedia.

Real Simple’s numbers certainly invite the knockoffs. For the second half of 2004, the magazine was up 20.6 percent in paid circulation, to 1,809,792, according to statements filed with the Audit Bureau of Circulations. And Media Industry Newsletter has it up 29.6 percent in ad pages to 856.3 through July, with one additional issue published this year. Domino — like WWD, part of Advance Publications Inc. — has had a similarly successful launch, delivering 100,000 copies above its promised rate base of 400,000 for its first issue, thanks to a newsstand sell-through of about 50 percent.

Meanwhile, now that Stewart is out of the hoosegow and under house arrest at Cantitoe Farm in Bedford, N.Y., the Martha Stewart Living flagship has finally turned a corner. Its July issue, up 121 percent to 83.29 ad pages, puts the magazine above last year’s year-to-date total by 6.02 percent, to 419.47 pages. August is also expected to post double-digit page gains.
— Sara James

LABOR CONTRACTIONS: Almost two weeks after declaring it had reached a deal with Us Weekly editor in chief Janice Min, Wenner Media has yet to get her signature on paper, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. No one involved with the negotiations would comment publicly, but Min, whose previous contract expired earlier this month, is said to be seeking more generous perks, such as more vacation time. The two sides are, however, believed to be in agreement on Min’s salary of $1.2 million a year. Of that, $200,000 is said to be tied to Min’s role in developing a new weekly title. A prototype has already been shown to focus groups; one source said it is closer in concept to People than to other celebrity tabloids, mixing human interest stories with Hollywood coverage.
— Jeff Bercovici

This story first appeared in the July 12, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

PARTY CRASHERS: The U.S. version of OK hasn’t even launched, but it’s already upping the competitive ante in the celebrity access game. According to a source with ties to several weekly titles, OK, which launches in August, had tried to buy exclusive rights to coverage of Jessica Simpson‘s 25th birthday party, which took place Saturday night in Los Angeles. OK had tentatively arranged for exclusive rights to photos of the event from a photographer for the WireImage photo agency when People swept in and offered more money. A People spokeswoman confirmed the magazine had purchased the images but denied a claim that it also had a reporter on hand at the private bash — a claim which, if true, would have suggested the magazine had paid for full access, not just photographs. While OK has indicated it plans to pay stars for their stories, People and other U.S. magazines generally disavow the practice. The People spokeswoman also denied the magazine paid $100,000-plus for the photos, but declined to specify how much it did pay.
— J.B.

FINO FINIS: Leah Karp, late of Marie Claire, will replace Filipa Fino as accessories director at Allure. Fino recently left the magazine to take Danya Unterhalter‘s place as senior accessories editor at Vogue. Unterhalter had resigned for personal reasons. It is the second time she has exited Vogue.
— S.J.

LOADED QUOTES: OK, so Celebrity Living’s much-hyped “exclusive interview” with Lindsay Lohan did happen, in a manner of speaking — although it was neither exclusive nor a real interview. Leslie Sloane Zelnick, Lohan’s spokeswoman, called WWD Monday to say a reporter from the magazine was present at a press junket for “Herbie: Fully Loaded,” where the actress fielded questions from a variety of publications in a roundtable session. That session was the source of most of the quotes attributed to Lohan in a July 4 cover story, clarified Sloane. Responding to a report in yesterday’s paper that she had written the quotes herself, Sloane added, “Anyone who knows me knows I would never use the words ‘thankful’ or ‘blessed.’ That’s Lindsay.”
— J.B.

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