SHAPE SHIPS OUT: Having given the order to transplant Shape magazine’s art and production departments from Woodland Hills, Calif., to New York, American Media boss David Pecker apparently decided to make a clean sweep of it. Anne Russell, the fitness magazine’s editor in chief, is out, and her remaining editorial staffers are expecting to be told any moment now that they’ll be asked to choose between relocating and finding new jobs. An AMI spokesman declined to comment on that, but confirmed Shape is looking to hire a new editor in chief and executive editor in New York (the latter job has been vacant for the past year). Earlier this week, it hired a New York-based creative director, Dimity Jones.
Officially, AMI is saying only that Russell, who has been editor in chief since 2001, is leaving the company, but a Weider Publishing source said she was first asked to resign, then fired when she refused. “This was a horrible slap in the face,” said the source.
Shape has been operating more or less autonomously since AMI acquired it and the other Weider titles in 2002. Earlier this summer, however, Russell, who was planning a redesign, got rid of art director Jacqueline Moorby and asked AMI for help in replacing her. “It was the worst thing they could have done,” said the source. Neal Boulton, AMI’s creative director, appears to be using the disruption as a way to enhance his influence over the title. In fact, Boulton was in Woodland Hills Wednesday. But AMI’s spokesman said Boulton, who is already editor in chief of Men’s Fitness, will not have control of Shape’s editorial.
— Jeff Bercovici
LEAVING TO COME OUT: A big book deal for a star magazine editor one expects, but for a lowly sales assistant on the business side? Not so much. Nevertheless, Lauren Blitzer, a sales assistant to several beauty reps at Teen Vogue, and her writing partner, Lauren Levin, just sold a coming-out guide for “feminine lesbians” to Simon & Spotlight Entertainment for an undisclosed sum — though it was at least generous enough for Blitzer to leave her day job. Her last day at Teen Vogue was Wednesday.
“It’s ‘Sex and the City’-type writing for younger, feminine lesbians,” said Blitzer who, with Levin, came up with the idea after a mutual friend couldn’t find relevant books on the subject at any of the major retail chains. Blitzer said the guide will be a mix of helpful advice and amusing anecdotes. “I’m currently interviewing a married woman whose husband is OK with her having affairs with other women,” she said. “We’ll be exploring all sorts of shades of gray in female sexuality.”
SSE is aiming to release the paperback next summer under the working title “So You Found Out Your Prince Charming Is Really a Cinderella.”
— Sara James