Embarrassingly not cutting edge on gangsta rap, I went to lunch with Publisher Rob Gregory and new (for nine months now) Managing Editor Ed Needham of Rolling Stone to be brought up to speed. Ed recounted the pleasures of hanging out with 50 Cent (their current cover boy) and Rob informed me the rap term these days for "money" is "finance." At Wenner Media, that translates to: "Jann, I need some more finance." On other important fronts, the boys tell me Mr. Wenner is back from skiing at Sun Valley (no broken legs), they have a dedicated war correspondent (Evan Wright) in the Gulf, that circ is healthy at 1.2 million-plus, that the magazine's median age is a deliciously young 25, and that ad sales aren't bad. Last year was flat, this first quarter they were marginally ahead. To Needham, a tall young Brit lured away from FHM, I inquired if Jann were stealing "finance" from his great and money-making flagship mag to spend on Bonnie Fuller and her exciting but (I assume) money-losing Us Weekly? No, said Ed, he's got the people he needs and the budget, too. Added Rob, who was at Men's Journal before taking over RS two years ago, the painful staff and budget cuts happened before Ed arrived and have been long since digested. Meanwhile, they're tooling up for their second annual (June 11) Youth Culture Conference in New York, with speakers and panelists so far including L.A. Reid of Arista, teen guru Alissa Quart, and heavies from Reebok, Pony and top agencies.
Lou Cona of Vanity Fair tells me this year, its 20th anniversary, starts off with its biggest first quarter ever, up 23% in ad pages over last year. In the Conde Nast Publishing magazine's Hollywood (April) issue, Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln unit bought an 18-page section and Estee Lauder Cos. is sponsoring a "leading ladies" section.
Overkill? 44 pages of Madonna in W magazine?
Big doings in Manhattan at Le Cirque April 7 when wife Nancy throws a 65th birthday party for Bill O'Shaughnessy, the Westchester radio station owner and Mario Cuomo cheerleader.