THE OVEREXPOSURE INDEX: Last week in Hollywood: Angelina Jolie adopted an Ethiopian little girl (with or without Brad Pitt), Ben Affleck relinquished his bachelor status, wedding Jennifer Garner on a secluded Caribbean beach, and half of TomKat practically came to fisticuffs with Matt Lauer on “The Today Show.” It’s not every seven-day cycle that gives celebrity magazine editors so much to gnaw on. But which couple ended up commanding more real estate in the most recent weeklies? Clearly, celebrity adoption edges out Hollywood matrimony.
Here (see chart at bottom of this page), the first edition of an occasional Memo Pad tracker that will look at how the seemingly unstoppable publicity machine is currently testing our tolerance for those in the public eye.
— Sara James
VENTRILOQUIST ACT: On the cover of its July 4 issue, Celebrity Living touted an “exclusive interview” with actress Lindsay Lohan. And the interview was indeed exclusive — possibly so much so that Lohan never even spoke with anyone from the magazine. The innocuous quotes sprinkled liberally throughout the article (sample: “I feel very blessed, lucky and appreciative. And I am thankful.”) were actually supplied by the star’s publicist, Leslie Sloane Zelnick of BWR, according to a source with ties to Lohan. Asked about that claim, a spokesman for American Media Inc., which owns the magazine, said, “We stand by how we presented the story. Celebrity Living spoke with Lindsay Lohan.” Pressed on when the interview was conducted, and whether it was done in person or on the phone, however, he declined to elaborate.
That’s most likely because it didn’t really happen, said someone who speaks regularly to Sloane. “Leslie Sloane hates AMI,” mostly because it also publishes Star and the National Enquirer, said the source. “She would never give them Lindsay.”
In fairness, attributing a publicist-supplied quote directly to the client, while a journalistic no-no, is fairly common practice at the celebrity magazines, according to a number of sources. For instance, the quotes in People’s current cover story on Angelina Jolie were actually relayed to the magazine by Jolie’s manager, according to a source. There was nothing in the article to indicate that to readers, although it was only two short quotes in a news story about her adopting another baby. The editors and publicists contacted for this story agreed that what Celebrity Living appears to have done in this case — build an entire six-page cover story around an interview that may have never taken place — is well outside the realm of what’s considered acceptable. Said one publicist: “The real question is: Did Leslie Sloane even get Lindsay Lohan to approve those quotes, or did she just write them and send them in?” Hard to say: Sloane did not respond to calls from WWD.
This story first appeared in the July 11, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Why the extreme measures? It could be because Celebrity Living is struggling on the newsstand. To date, the magazine, which debuted in April, is averaging sales of about 90,000 copies per issue, according to the American Media spokesman. He noted, however, that the title’s distribution will be expanded to Wal-Mart stores beginning four weeks from now, predicting, “When that’s done, we’ll get an immediate bump of 100,000 copies per issue.”
— Jeff Bercovici
CHINA GIRL: Angelica Cheung, editorial director of Condé Nast China, knew she was walking into a political minefield — brand wise — when Alexandra Shulman, editor in chief of British Vogue, hosted a cocktail party last week to introduce her Asian counterpart to some of Europe’s top designers. So what designer was Cheung wearing? “I deliberately picked Shanghai,” she said about her colorful silk shift dress, which was not even Shanghai Tang. “It’s not really a designer brand,” she said after chatting with the likes of Giorgio Armani, Olivier Theyskens, Giambattista Valli and Loulou de la Falaise. “I always wear some element of China. It’s our mission to promote Chinese design.” Her first issue is due out next month.
— Miles Socha