WACKERMANN GETS SLAPPED: It seems Bill Wackermann hasn’t exactly been welcomed into the fold at Conde Nast. Since he took over as publisher of Glamour a little over a year ago, the magazine has enjoyed healthy surges in ad pages — up 7 percent to 1,647 pages in all of 2004, and up 12.3 percent to 785.3 pages through June of this year, according to Media Industry Newsletter. However, despite those numbers (or maybe because of them), Wackermann just might have a target painted on his back.
Sources said that for months several of his fellow publishers at Conde Nast have been keeping files on him, documenting what they’ve seen as his acts of aggression against other magazines within the company. In the last two weeks, the sources said, four of those publishers — Vogue’s Tom Florio, Teen Vogue’s Gina Sanders, Lucky’s Sandy Golinkin and Allure’s Nancy Berger — went to Conde Nast’s chief executive officer Chuck Townsend with their findings.
Among the list of accusations leveled at Wackermann during that meeting: He has been aggressively bashing other books within the company; offering free page space to advertisers and undercutting group buys; enticing advertisers with overly generous advertorials and added value incentives and, in general, undermining the way other magazines within the company position themselves in the marketplace.
All of that may seem par for the course in the cut-and-thrust that is the ad sales side of 4 Times Square. But according to several sources at Conde Nast, after hearing the list of grievances, Townsend, who is said to have encouraged a team mentality since taking over the company early last year, contacted Wackermann to call him out on his practices. Wackermann, in turn, reached out to three of the four publishers who made the case against him to try and repair the damage. As for the fourth, Tom Florio, it’s still unclear whether Wackermann has contacted him or will, since the two men have a loaded history dating back to when Florio was at GQ and Wackermann at Details. (Florio declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Conde Nast.)
This story first appeared in the May 20, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Antics notwithstanding, it was Wackermann’s successful relaunch at Details under Fairchild that earned him one of Conde Nast’s brass rings: Glamour. Which is, perhaps, not that surprising — Conde Nast has been known for bringing up bellicose sales talents like Florio, group president Richard Beckman, and former GQ and Vogue publisher Ron Galotti.
However, even in an industry famous for its sharks, Wackermann seems to have particularly sharp teeth. After issuing a string of words to describe him, a fellow publisher settled on one: “stealth.”
Wackermann did not return calls seeking comment. Conde Nast, Details, Glamour, Teen Vogue, Vogue, Lucky, Allure and Fairchild are, like WWD, part of Advance Publications Inc.
— Sara James
PIE IN THE SKY: Radar founder Maer Roshan has declared everyone a celebrity, and at the magazine’s launch party Wednesday night it did indeed seem that just about every guest had some type of claim to fame, be it as politician, p.r. princess or lowly blogger. Ed Koch, Glenda Bailey, Al Sharpton, Lizzie Grubman and Suzanne Boyd were among those who packed into the Hotel QT. The evening’s putative surprise came when Gawker Media boss Nick Denton took a giant ice cream pie in the face as payback for Gawker’s nonstop tweaking of Radar. Despite the photo-op nature of the attack, Denton swore afterward that he’d had no warning, and said he deserved better. “I think in a few years time, [Roshan] will thank me for all the coverage of a magazine that probably wouldn’t have got so much attention otherwise.” But he actually seemed rather pleased by the incident. Roshan, meanwhile, ended up with pie all over his new Gucci suit, having failed to achieve minimum safe distance.
As hotel workers mopped up the ice cream, Roshan’s mentor, Tina Brown, stood poolside and explained why she had yet to write anything for Radar. “It’s only because I’m doing a book. When I’m done, I would love to do something [for Radar] because I think it’s terrific. It’s full of vitality.”
Author Candace Bushnell also had nice things to say about the magazine, even though she hadn’t actually read it yet. “I’m saving it for when I get home and can enjoy every word of it in my bed,” she said. Ah, but how would she feel to find herself skewered in its pages? “Oh, I’m not nearly famous enough for Radar to write about me,” she demurred.
— Jeff Bercovici
KIMORA’S NEW CAMERAMAN: Film director Brett Ratner — he of the “Rush Hour” franchise — will shoot his first print ad campaign next week for Baby Phat. The model will once again be the company’s creative director, Kimora Lee Simmons, though a source hinted this might be her swan song as the Kellwood-owned company’s face in ads.
— S. J.
CAVEAT POACHER: OK magazine’s U.S. launch is back on track following a failed attempt to hire Nicola McCarthy, formerly of Us Weekly, to be editor in chief. While McCarthy waits for her non-compete agreement to expire next April, Sarah Ivens will head up the launch as editor in chief. Ivens was previously deputy editor of British OK, and is expected to bring several employees of that magazine to New York with her. Meanwhile, Martin Smith, who will be the new title’s managing editor, is already here recruiting in anticipation of a fall debut. Smith was editorial director of several American Media tabloids until last December, and he has met with candidates from Star and other AMI publications. “We’ve spoken to people at various organizations, all the major publishers based in New York,” he said. Well, not all of them: Under the terms of its court settlement with Wenner Media, OK owner Northern & Shell can’t hire away any Wenner employees for the next 15 years. Anyone think the celebrity weekly fad will last that long?
CULTURE SHOCK, NOT: Sam Sifton has been named the new culture editor at The New York Times, replacing Jon Landman, who intentionally held the post for exactly one year. As WWD reported in February, the search for Landman’s successor had been narrowed down to deputy culture editors Jim Schachter and Sifton and an announcement was expected by Memorial Day. In a memo sent to the staff Thursday, executive editor Bill Keller said, “Sam has an impresario’s gift for matching writers with ideas. He has an ear for language (search his own byline if you want evidence). He also has an enthusiasm that rubs off on his colleagues and that (not a small thing in culture) reaches the outside constituencies who see The Times as the country’s most important public space.” Schachter will assume expanded deputy editor duties, overseeing all culture news and enterprise reporting. As for Landman, Keller said, “more anon.”