WALLACE WALKS: Wenner Media executives got some bad news on Friday when Bob Wallace, head of the company’s books division, resigned, apparently over budget constraints, according to a former Wenner employee. Wallace was previously the editor of Men’s Journal and the editor in chief of St. Martin’s Press.
“Bob Wallace, who has had a long and esteemed career with Wenner, left his position as of late Friday to pursue other opportunities. The departure was amicable,” a Wenner spokeswoman said Monday. Wallace did not return calls for comment.
Three former Wenner staffers said they believed the fate of the division was in question over the weekend following Wallace’s departure. However, Wenner has an exclusive deal with Hyperion to print, sell and distribute their titles, and that arrangement, one source said, will keep Wenner Books active for the foreseeable future.
The company spokeswoman said, “Wenner Books is alive and well, and will be for a long time to come; we have a full catalogue of titles for 2006 and, in fact, are already planning titles for 2007.” That slate includes, “Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” “Dylan: The Essential Interviews” and “Gonzo,” an oral history of Hunter S. Thompson.
The spokeswoman could not say if a replacement for Wallace would be hired. Corey Seymour is currently the most senior person in the division. — Sara James
MANHUNT: Bob Wallace isn’t the only person who apparently finds Wenner Media a tough place to work. The search is on for a new editor in chief of Men’s Journal, and, so far, there seems to be little interest in the job. The headhunting firm Howard Sloan Koller has contacted a number of high-level editors about the position, including Runner’s World editor in chief David Willey, Popular Science editor in chief Mark Jannot, Absolute editor in chief Andrew Essex, Life managing editor Bill Shapiro, Men’s Health executive editor Peter Moore and Bill Stump, Rodale’s vice president of editorial development for Rodale. None of those editors, however, is believed to be actively pursuing the position. One source who took himself out of contention explained his decision this way: “Two words: Jann Wenner. Everyone knows it’s not really a job where you’re in charge.” Another editor, who has not been approached about the Men’s Journal position but has been a candidate for similar posts, added, “It’s like going to work for George Steinbrenner.”
Indeed, whoever ends up taking the job will become Men’s Journal’s fifth new editor in six years, following Mark Bryant (now developing a sports magazine for The New York Times), Sid Evans (now editor in chief of Field & Stream), Wallace and Michael Caruso, who left earlier this month as time ran out on his contract. Caruso’s experience, in particular, highlights why prospective candidates have been so leery: Despite the magazine’s strong advertising and newsstand gains under his stewardship, Wenner still chose to let him go rather than reward him with a better contract. “Any smart person’s not going to take a one-year job,” said another men’s magazine editor who has not been approached.
But if the number ones and number twos are sitting this one out, an editor in chief vacancy is bound to hold some appeal for those further down the masthead. Hence the candidacy of Tom Foster, currently features editor at Men’s Health, who was seen in the Wenner building. Foster did not respond to a request for comment. — Jeff Bercovici
GOING POSTAL: Circulation practices that not too long ago passed as unremarkable can now get you thrown in jail. Edward D. Brown, publisher of Laptop magazine, was arrested last week on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud. According to a 12-page affidavit given by postal inspector Scott Briggs, Brown and circulation consultant John Jay Jannis attempted to find a distributor who would falsify documents to make it seem that copies that had been disposed of in bulk had been paid for by a sponsor. The falsified documents were allegedly intended to deceive the Audit Bureau of Circulations, allowing the magazine to charge higher ad rates. A federal sting operation, which was part of an ongoing investigation into circulation practices such as “check swaps” by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the eastern district of New York, exposed the crime. — J.B.
ARMANI EXCHANGE: Could journalism be Giorgio Armani’s second calling? The latest issue of the Italian weekly Grazia lists the designer on the masthead as co-editor in chief. In addition to penning the letter from the editor, focused on his relationship with women and their enduring friendship, Armani offers culinary and fitness tips, posing with his personal trainer wearing little more than briefs, and points to Naples as an ideal holiday destination.
The designer graces the cover with model Eva Herzigova, who also appears in the main photo shoot, wearing — what else? — the designer’s signature brand. Armani poses in his Milan apartment with the model and agrees to a Q&A with her: The designer interviews the model and vice versa. The topics? Personal memories — Armani as a child wanted to become a doctor — inspirations, hobbies and fears, among others. In a separate interview, Armani also talks about his houses, his passion for interior design and his home collection.
Last month, Armani also penned a feature on James Dean for the Italian weekly Chi. — Luisa Zargani