STAFF ETC: Hearst’s upcoming magazine, Shop Etc., may be borrowing its market niche and editorial conceit from Condé Nast’s Lucky (like WWD, owned by Advance Magazine Group), but at least it’s looking for staff elsewhere. Editor Mandi Norwood has recruited Charla Krupp — who’s served time at In Style, Eve.com and Glamour — to be her number two as executive editor, while publisher Cynthia Lewis has lured Lori Rhodes from Saks Fifth Avenue to be her director of marketing.
Krupp took time off from the day-to-day publishing grind after Eve.com went under, while hooking up with In Style in the interim as its ambassador to “The Today Show.” Krupp’s taking her TV gig with her, but will appear for Shop Etc. instead of In Style. “This magazine has everything I love as a civilian,” she said. “I’m able to work on the things I’m obsessed with, plus create a new, breakthrough product.”
Rhodes, meanwhile, is leaving her post as Saks’ vice president of media relations, special events and local marketing, after nine years. “It’s been fabulous at Saks, but this is a terrific opportunity. It’s not every day that you get to work on the launch of a major publication.”
They’re employees number four and five, respectively. Alexandra Parnass was previously appointed beauty director, arriving from Seventeen Prom, a Seventeen special edition.
— Greg Lindsay and David Moin
THE HORSE’S MOUTH: Welcome to the intersecting world of publicists and celebrity journalists. Last Wednesday, Star Magazine came out bearing a splashy “Star Exclusive” on the breakup of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck. “J Lo Speaks Out! ‘I’m Broken Hearted,’” screamed the coverline.
Inside the magazine, reporter Victoria Gotti, the daughter of the late John Gotti, attributed a quote to Lopez, who allegedly told her, “I am extremely brokenhearted. I put enormous effort into my relationship with Ben, but in the end, I realized I needed to put my personal and professional life back together. I need, most of all, to be left alone in order to do that.”
There was just one problem: J.Lo apparently didn’t say that to Gotti. An intermediary did.
The day the story broke in Star, other entertainment journalists went ballistic. Why had they been given the exclusive, reporters complained to reps at the well-known publicity firm Dan Klores Communications, which, interestingly enough, represents both Lopez and Gotti, and which, by most indications, is the source of the quote. The firm delivered a statement to the press saying, “Ms. Lopez did not speak to any press.”
Things got complicated.
The magazine defended the veracity of its quote to Page Six and other inquiring reporters, but they began to sidestep questions of where the quote came from inside Lopez’s camp, perhaps because Klores is the gatekeeper to a lot of very powerful people. A spokesman for Star told WWD that it “stand[s] by Victoria Gotti’s reporting.”
For Klores’ firm the predicament was that it couldn’t claim Gotti was accurate without angering other reporters (and possibly Lopez, who had made a decision not to give a quote to any of the four celebrity weeklies that ran Bennifer break-up stories this week), and it couldn’t claim Gotti was inaccurate without risking losing her as a client.
And so, on Friday, reps from the agency tried to spin their way out of the whole thing, saying that while Gotti had not spoken to anyone in their office, she was “an accomplished reporter who, in all probability, has numerous sources.”
Some journalists muttered that Gotti could have avoided the whole brouhaha by simply attributing the quote to a spokesperson. But mostly the episode just looked like an extreme example of how the daily give-and-take between publicists and reporters can go awry: A journalist, eager for a juicy exclusive, charms a publicist (whose firm also represents her) into giving her a quote that she is allowed to attribute to their client. The reporter brings this nugget back to her editors, who are thrilled to have it. The magazine comes out, and as one PR veteran put it, blows a tiny innocuous quote out of proportion, calling it an exclusive, which it only vaguely is, in an effort to boost newsstand sales.
One question: Who gets canned? The publicist, the journalist, neither or both?
— Jacob Bernstein