STUCK IN PARK: The reality show about American Media is getting closer to being, well, a reality — that is, if legal and logistical considerations don’t put the kibosh on it, as several insiders believe they might. A four-minute trailer for the show, tentatively titled “One Park,” recently went up on producer Star Price‘s Web site. The clip follows employees of AMI’s magazines, which include Star, the National Enquirer, Shape and Men’s Fitness, as they shoot covers, stake out nightclubs and get their party on. If there’s a breakout star in this ensemble, it’s Men’s Fitness editor in chief Neal Boulton, who hams it up with lines like: “I’m around hot, sexy women all the time, partying my ass off….I want to be sexy and I want to have fun.”
If only he would get that chance. For now, a number of unresolved issues are threatening to sink “One Park” before it can get under way. A major sticking point is AMI chairman David Pecker‘s concern that the presence of candid cameras could further mar the company’s already battered image. He is particularly concerned, say sources, that employees will be shown disparaging the company or engaging in suspect journalistic practices. To prevent that, Pecker is insisting on having final review of footage, and urging producers to shift their focus from the tabloids, particularly the Enquirer, to the monthlies, and from the employees’ workdays to their personal lives. Another hurdle is the title: AMI leases its offices at One Park Avenue, and doesn’t own the rights to the name.
For all these reasons, progress on “One Park” has fallen well behind the timeline its producers first envisioned. Shooting of the first season, originally scheduled to begin several weeks ago, has yet to commence, and producer Price hasn’t been able to shop the show to networks. While a meeting set for next week may resolve some of the question marks, one source involved in the program said AMI had all but given up hope: “The legal is just too big.”
— Jeff Bercovici
IN THEIR WAKE: Budget Living was taken off life support last month, but its staff seems to be struggling to let go.
Last week, its final editor in chief, Angela Matusik, launched a shelter and design blog to make use of Budget-y ideas that never made it into print. Matusik and three other former BL staffers — home market editor Allison Reynolds, senior editor Bunny Wong and special projects editor Beth Johnson — are blogging about teapots, taxidermy and the like on Shelterrific.com.
“I signed up for a hosting service and bought a digital camera, and so far, that’s been about the only expense,” said Matusik.
Mourning in other ways is Budget Living founding editor in chief Sarah Gray Miller, who is holding a memorial service for the magazine at her home in Harlem on Saturday. (Attire is “festive funerary.” No word yet on who will deliver the eulogy.)
Meanwhile, Time Inc. continues to find homes for BL’s displaced staff. In addition to the cluster of editors who migrated to Real Simple just before BL folded, and Miller, who has been working on projects for Entertainment Weekly on and off for the past eight months, Matusik just began a six-week stint working on the People Group’s Web sites, and former BL senior editor Margaret Magnarelli has taken a job as an editor at Money, starting April 3.
— Sara James
BLACKLISTED: The James Frey scandal may have American book publishers scared straight, but their British counterparts seem relatively unaffected. A spokeswoman for Ebury Press said the Random House U.K. imprint was going ahead with plans to publish “How to Wear Black,” a fashion memoir with a proposal that contained material lifted word for word from The New York Times and embellished with fictional details, in February 2007. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Scribner, the Simon & Schuster imprint that agreed to publish the book in the U.S., declined to address speculation that it had already backed out of the deal, saying, “We are taking the questions very seriously and we’re looking into it.”
As WWD reported Friday, “How to Wear Black” purports to be a memoir based on the life of Emily Davies, a former fashion writer for the Times of London, but several episodes and quotes were taken from a 1998 New York Times article by Monique Yazigi. Davies’ agent, Simon Trewin, spoke up for his client Monday, confirming reports she had been fired from the Times in August 2005 over disputed expenses. “Not only was it widely reported, but the incident forms part of her proposal,” he said. “She has always maintained her innocence.”
Davies told WWD earlier that the appropriation of Yazigi’s material was accidental, and Trewin said it was the only such instance she was aware of. “She is voluntarily checking all material within the proposal for this book because she agrees that the mistake that occurred with the New York Times piece was careless but, retrospectively, horribly easy to make.”