SHE WAS WORTH IT — HONEST: A week after chief editorial director Bonnie Fuller exited American Media Inc., her former boss, David Pecker, joked on Thursday that he had finally emerged from the “witness protection program.” AMI’s chief executive officer flew in from Florida to speak at a Magazine Publishers of America breakfast in Manhattan, addressing everything from Fuller’s departure to adding product placement in future magazine editorial coverage to his desire to join forces with a non-strategic partner.

Pecker said that, when Fuller joined Us Weekly, she was responsible for putting the “jolt” back in celebrity journalism, noting that she made “celebrities real and like everyone else…Bonnie gets credit for that.” He added, on the topic of Star magazine: “I can’t think of anyone I know who is more capable and worth more dollars than her, to create shareholder value for that magazine.” (Given that AMI paid Fuller, now consultant to Pecker and editor at large for Star, approximately $10 million during her five years at the firm, he’d better feel that way.)

He also said he would enter into a non-strategic partnership on AMI’s celebrity and health and fitness titles “in a heartbeat” — yet another sign, if any more were needed, that AMI’s talks with Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. about a sale are at least on hold. He pointed to Elevation Partners, which is a minority shareholder in Forbes Media LLC, as a model he’d like to follow. But Pecker also used the occasion to see if he could boost AMI’s bottom line. Specifically addressing Marlene Kahan, executive director of the American Society of Magazine Editors, who was in the audience, Pecker asked if there is a way to look at product placement “without compromising editorial integrity” to help an industry that is challenged in growing its revenue streams. The crowd didn’t seem too interested in the idea, but then again, this all happened before 9 a.m.

— Amy Wicks

OUT THE O DOOR: O, the Oprah Magazine isn’t just losing its editor in chief, Amy Gross, to retirement. Carla Frank, the design director since the title’s launch nine years ago, is also leaving. A spokeswoman confirmed the departure, saying Frank would “remain through the end of June, after which she plans to take the summer off.” The search for Gross’ replacement is on, with her own active involvement as well as that of editorial talent director Eliot Kaplan, who is said to be casting a wide net with the search. The spokeswoman said a successor was expected to be named by summer.

This story first appeared in the May 23, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

— Irin Carmon

A SIMPLE RETURN: The unending volleying of personnel between Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia continues: Real Simple has hired Elizabeth Graves as beauty director. She was previously editorial director of beauty, health and fitness at MSLO, as well as beauty editor at Blueprint before it was folded in December. There will be more than one familiar face for Graves at Real Simple: She worked there as a senior editor in the beauty department before leaving for Blueprint, working with then-editor in chief Sarah Humphreys — who is also back at Real Simple.

— I.C.

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