SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES: The cutting remark most often used to describe magazine publishers: They all want to be editors. However, sometimes all a publisher wants is the kind of fawning attention from the press that only an editor can get.
Perennial problem child and Glamour publisher Bill Wackermann is said to be miffed about his magazine’s mention on AdWeek’s Hot List for 2006, according to three sources at Condé Nast. And what for, since the nod is usually considered one of the biggest honors of the year? Because of this blurb next to Glamour’s place at number nine: “Editor [in chief] Cindi Leive is credited with restoring this Condé Nast fashion/beauty title to its formidable roots with a smart, sharp edit that earned it a National Magazine Award last spring.”
The Leive mention prompted Wackermann to gripe to confidants last week, “But I’m the one who did it.” He was referring to Glamour’s turnaround, though he could have meant securing a place on the Hot List, given the amount of lobbying he apparently put into it. Said one publisher: “He had done some campaigning for it.” By January, Wackermann is said to have considered Glamour’s inclusion a lock. After one colleague congratulated him on having a good year during the annual Condé Nast publisher’s retreat in Florida, he said, “Yeah, just one more milestone to go,” referring to AdWeek.
Leive was the only person individual cited on the list of 10 magazines. That she had already had her moment in the limelight accepting the American Society of Magazine Editors award for general excellence must have rekindled something in the competitive-to-a-fault Wackermann, who had been behaving in an almost sportsmanlike manner ever since a coalition of publishers at Condé Nast went to chief executive officer Chuck Townsend with a list of grievances last May. Although he was said to have been frustrated when he came in second in the race for Condé Nast publisher of the year for 2005, he was, by most accounts, gracious (he came in second to Teen Vogue publisher Gina Sanders).
But, as one Condé Nast insider said, “These Hot Lists bring out the worst in people.”
One publisher, who was not among those Wackermann complained to, said, “We all go into the Hot List thinking this is a reflection of how I’m doing, how the business is doing. To see Cindi mentioned, it is kind of a slight. Knowing Bill the way I do, I’m sure he was apoplectic.”
On Friday, asked if he had been just a tad jealous of his editorial counterpart, Wackermann claimed otherwise. “That’s ridiculous, I was thrilled to make the list. If anything, I wanted Glamour to be a little higher.”
In any case, if it’s more effusive praise Wackermann is after, perhaps he should consider buddying up to Cargo publisher Lance Ford. At a Condé Nast party held last Tuesday to celebrate GQ publisher Pete Hunsinger‘s 25th anniversary at the company, Ford toasted the guest of honor with an epic piece of doggerel he’d composed for the occasion. Each verse ended with a refrain about Hunsinger’s “great head of hair,” and Ford concluded the reading by presenting Hunsinger with a can of mousse. The length of the poem, and its inside-joke nature, had some guests shifting their feet and exchanging uncomfortable looks. Remarked one afterward, “Every time I thought it was about to end, he turned another page.”
— Sara James and Jeff Bercovici
FORD GETS SLIMANED: Christian Dior designer Hedi Slimane proves he’s fashionable and needles Tom Ford in the new style issue of The New Yorker, on newsstands today. In an interview with Nick Paumgarten, Slimane says of briefly having Ford as a boss at Yves Saint Laurent, “Reporting to Tom was not going to happen … I don’t respect him, not at all. He is not a designer. He is a marketing man.”
That’s tough talk from a skinny man in skintight suits. Paumgarten says in the article that Slimane stays whip-thin by eating baby food, and finds the non-model models he uses in his shows by going on “boy safari,” usually in London.