SPECIAL COVERAGE: Aside from newspapers, television networks and the news weeklies providing exhaustive coverage of the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the celebrity weeklies are covering the celebrities flocking to Washington this weekend. But because the most newsworthy events — the inauguration and the official balls — occurred Tuesday after most of the weeklies’ deadlines, many were only able to include reporting from the pre-parties.
This story first appeared in the January 21, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
All except People, which again pushed its Tuesday afternoon deadline back to Wednesday afternoon to publish a special double issue on the historic event, a decision the magazine also made in order to publish a cover with Obama following Election Night on Nov. 4. This week’s special issue will be on sale for two weeks and will carry a cover price of $4.49, an increase of 50 cents from the usual newsstand price. People also bumped up its rate base to 3.7 million from the usual 3.45 million for the issue. The Time Inc. title usually increases its rate base in some way for its special double issues, such as the People Sexiest Men Alive, Hottest Bachelors or Half Their Size editions.
But pushing the production schedule to include details of the inauguration was just one obstacle. With eight reporters in D.C. covering the events leading up to and following the inauguration, culling a week’s worth of material into a 30-page package that still feels timely after days worth of real time news reports online and on television was also a challenge. For People managing editor Larry Hackett, the goal is “to be both newsy and also to provide that level of intimacy. When you’re selling the magazine three or four days later, you want a narrative that the reader can follow, but also the moments they haven’t seen.”
The special issue marks the fourth time the Obamas have made the cover of People, following a family portrait that accompanied a profile this summer and two covers in a row following the election. People scored big with the Nov. 17 issue that immediately followed Election Night, selling more than 2 million copies on newsstands. But while it was one of the title’s top three selling issues of 2008, not even the first African-American president can outsell twin babies that belong to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, which sold 2.6 million.
Among the other celebrity weeklies, In Touch and Life & Style Weekly did not push back their Monday night deadlines to include complete inauguration details. Instead, Life & Style will publish a special issue with two covers, one with events up to the inauguration and one that includes the inauguration day, to allow for at least some of the issues shipped on the later half of its production schedule to include coverage of Tuesday’s events. In Touch will also include party coverage from the weekend and Obama on the cover in some form, but will not publish a special issue or a special cover.
Us Weekly also did not alter its publication schedule, meaning the Monday night close allowed the magazine to include coverage of the weekend parties, while its Web site will have coverage of the inauguration and parties. — Stephanie D. Smith
AMI RATING CUT: Standard & Poor’s on Tuesday lowered its rating on American Media Inc’s 8.875 percent senior subordinated notes due in 2011 to “D” from “CC” since the company failed to make its Jan. 15 interest payment on those notes. In its downgrade report, credit analysts at S&P noted that AMI has proposed a deal to exchange its 10.25 percent and 8.875 percent subordinated notes for new notes at over a 45 percent discount to par value, pushing maturities to 2013. “We are concerned that operating performance may deteriorate further over the near term because of the weak economy,” the credit analysts said. Last week, AMI reported a two percent decrease in revenue, due to softness in advertising. — Amy Wicks
MORE LAYOFFS: Time Warner Inc. has already made significant layoffs in its Time Inc. division and, now, it has moved on to Warner Bros., where 800 positions will reportedly be eliminated in the coming months due to the global economic situation and current business forecasts. The studio behind hits such as “The Dark Knight” is planning a combination of layoffs, job outsourcing to a third-party company and eliminating open positions. “These staff reductions and organizational changes, which are being made at every level across both corporate and divisional businesses, were our last resort to help position the company for its future,” said chairman and chief executive officer Barry Meyer and president Alan Horn in a memo to employees. Perhaps more details will unfold during Time Warner’s fourth-quarter and full-year earnings call, which is set for Feb. 4. — A.W.
OFF THE PRESS: Add Yohji Yamamoto to the list of designers feeling the economic burn. The house said that after 13 years in New York it will shutter its Stateside press office at the end of January with one person remaining on through March. Chief executive officer Keizo Tamoto cited “the economic situation in the U.S.,” as the reason for the decision, and added that cuts were also being made in Japan. While commercial, administration and retail divisions will remain in New York, press for all Yohji Yamamoto brands, licensees and cobranding — Ys, Limi Feu and Adidas for Yohji Yamamoto among them — will be handled out of Yamamoto’s offices and Tokyo and Paris, where the designer is set to stage his fall men’s and women’s shows as scheduled. — Jessica Iredale