WHAT’S GOING ON AT ELLE?: There are certainly lots of changes going on in the hallways of Elle. On the heels of the departures of Carol Smith and, last week, Brent Allen, vice president of brand development (who was named associate publisher, marketing, at Marie Claire), the title is losing another high-level staffer, this time on the editorial side. WWD has learned managing editor Sara E. Culley is leaving the Hachette Filipacchi-owned magazine to become senior managing editor at Women’s Health.

All of this comes at a sensitive moment for Elle, which has been operating without a permanent publisher or business chief since Smith, its senior vice president and chief brand officer, was tapped early last month by rival Condé Nast to head a food group.

This story first appeared in the May 13, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Add to Elle’s list of challenges the fact that, according to sources, the search for a new publisher has been slow going and has proven very difficult. (As reported by WWD, the magazine decided to divide Smith’s role into two jobs — a publisher and a chief brand officer, whose role evidently is to obliterate that pesky old divide between church and state.) Though Condé Nast Traveler associate publisher William Li was initially believed to be a top candidate for the publisher’s position, he is said to have turned down the magazine’s offer. Elle is keen to fill that slot before the branding one. And sources point to this as a major sticking point, since a publisher presumably would want to know who his or her boss would be before accepting the job. Not surprisingly, another front-runner has yet to surface, and a spokeswoman for Elle confirmed no decision on the publisher’s job has been made.

— Nick Axelrod

KEVIN SPACEY MUST REALLY HAVE UPSET SOMEONE: Forget the token bodyguard — Kevin Spacey required eight burly types to shepherd him around a photo shoot last weekend in Portofino, Italy. Whether that was done in jest or in seriousness is anyone’s guess. But his fellow models — Cate Blanchett, Elle Macpherson, Matthew Fox, Eric Dane, Tim Jeffries and Luis Figo — didn’t require such hand-holding. In and around the piazza, Fox proved he was far from “Lost” by teasingly shooting the paparazzi with his own camera. Peter Lindbergh, the lensman who had actually been hired to capture the scene, was more welcoming. When the snap-a-holics hovered too close, Lindbergh decided to work them into a waterfront shot and told them exactly where to go (literally, not figuratively.)

For a new look book for the Swiss watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen, the VIPs were pictured moseying around in Fifties-inspired garb, but after-hours they raced around on Riva motorboats and lapped up gelato. Even Dane, whose wife Rebecca was in tow during the jaunt to Portofino, made time for a close-up for their baby boy, Billie. The threesome ducked out to meet Boris Becker, his wife Sharlely “Lilly” Kerssenberg and their three-month-old son Amadeus for a play date.

— Rosemary Feitelberg