Outgoing Us Weekly Editor Terry McDonell was feted with champagne and toasts Feb 12 by his staffers-who called him T. Mack Daddy, though wisely not to his face-en route to his new digs at Sports Illustrated. Us Weekly editorship still conspicuously vacant, the question on some magazine-world minds is: Will ex-Glamour editor Bonnie Fuller be the Jim Baker to Us Weekly's George Bush? Mr. Baker, you may recall, came late to the '92 Bush campaign when it was w-a-a-a-y behind some insatiable southerner named Clinton. Washington wags said Mr. Baker couldn't lose: If the campaign lost, well, it was because it was so far gone not even Mr. Baker's ministrations could save it. If it turned around-well, Mr. Baker's deft touch was proven anew.
Ms. Fuller's vaunted commercial touch is a fine fit for Us Weekly, and Ms. Fuller, currently spearheading Meredith Corp.'s younger-skewing Living Room project, may sense an irresistible opportunity at Us-one where risk may be hedged, Baker-style, given that the magazine world remains somewhat dubious of its performance thus far.
There are problems with the Bonnie-Baker theory, which Wenner Media General Manager Kent Brownridge is typically not shy about pointing out. "It's a terrible metaphor," he said. "The Bush campaign was all [expletive] up. They'd underestimated Clinton, and Baker came in grudgingly." (And lost.) "Us is not all [expletive] up. We did not underestimate the competition. It's on the upswing." Its circulation numbers are inching closer to the one-million level initially promised to advertisers at its March '00 launch: The next Audit Bureau of Circulations report is expected to show circulation spiking 12.3% to 929,131 for the latter half of '01. Mr. Brownridge would not comment on any aspect of the editor's search, in which Us Weekly's editor Charlie Leehrsen-who formerly edited Us Monthly but was passed over in favor of Mr. McDonell-is also a player. ("He's kind of auditioning for his old job-again," said one insider. "I've never heard of a parallel situation.") Ms. Fuller did not return calls. Meanwhile, Mr. McDonell is toddling over to Time Inc., clutching, no doubt, one send-off present from his former staffers-a mock Us with his mug on the cover and the headline "Why did the editor cross the road?"
Putdown of the week
"They had a great opening Tuesday."-A veteran studio marketing executive, whacking the flagging-at-the-box-office "Ali " with a backhanded compliment for nonetheless garnering two Oscar nominations on Feb. 12.
Adages sees nothing but hears everything. With apologies to the New York Post's Page Six and the Village Voice's Michael Musto, here's a bevy of buxom blind items: WHICH A-list movie star showed up at WHICH recent ad world gathering-paying special attention, per one account, to the young ad world lovelies in attendance? . . . WHICH pair of brash and blunt-spoken magazine moguls had an overly operatic and extremely entertaining-but unfortunately utterly unprintable-encounter at WHICH trendy eatery? . . . WHICH actually-doing-OK consumer magazine looks like it's stuffing the ballot box in WHICH anonymous industry survey? Buy Adages lunch and maybe we'll tell.
Richard Linnett can be blamed for many things-just not this week's Adages, which was edited by Jon Fine.
contributing: wayne friedman