THE JOYS OF MUCH TOO MUCH BONNIE

What Everyone Is Talking About Today

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Bonnie Fuller, American Media’s editorial director, has attracted more attention than just about any other glossy magazine editor. To call her a polarizing figure would be an understatement. Portrayed on the media blogs as dragon-lady editor with little loyalty to the companies that hire her to juice up their moribund circulation, Bonnie has even spawned an online community known as I Survived Bonnie, joined by 479 (!) former employees who managed to live through her “reign of terror.” This is obviously a woman who provokes strong reactions.

Now she’s out promoting her book with the slightly unwieldy title, “The Joys of Much Too Much: Go For the Big Life -- The Great Career, The Perfect Guy, and Everything Else You’ve Ever Wanted.” The book starts off right away slamming the “immaculate, very sparse white covers of some of the newest entries in the magazine field ... that tell you how to simplify your life.” Simplifying for Bonnie is a quick route to a noninvolved life. The lesson of the book can be summed up as jump into the deep end and swim as hard as you can, and if you start drowning, swim faster.

Her early tenure remaking YM as a true competitor to long established leader Seventeen first got her noticed. But ever since arriving at Hearst to launch Marie Claire, it seems the long knives have been out. After all, she tells readers, fashion titles weren’t run by Canadian editors who needed their staff to tell them how to dress and who wanted to run pictures of happy people wearing orange, pink and red instead of black. Then she took over Cosmopolitan from legend Helen Gurley Brown, jumped ship to Conde Nast’s Glamour, got fired for playing footsie with Hearst about maybe being editor of Harper’s Bazaar, and emerged phoenix-like from those ashes as the woman who saved Wenner Media’s Us Weekly. Then she left the next year to go to American Media as editorial director and to reinvent Star. Oh, and by the way, she did all this while having four children, so she was often pregnant while she was relaunching titles, which meant she figured she couldn’t take maternity leave. She hired a baby nurse to sit with her while she worked from home for the first three weeks, and then brought nurse and baby to office after that.

And two of her children have faced life-threatening illnesses, the most recent was dealt with by Bonnie running to the hospital from the office and back again to meet a midnight close. For all the talk about having it all, she doesn’t sugarcoat the reality that having it all often means not sleeping and dealing with incredibly stressful jobs and home crises by just plain sheer will. She doesn’t claim to do them with ease or with organized drawers. Her message for young women is life can be tough, but if you’re tougher, you can deal and still be happy.

She was once quoted as saying she didn’t understand why people didn’t like her. And in the introduction, she makes it clear she’s not one for introspection, as is obvious from the many times she declares something like “I don’t think I’ll be lying there on my deathbed thinking, ‘I wish I’d gone on more meditation weekends,’” and “I’m not the kind of person who yearns to go to an ashram for a week.” Over and over, she extorts her reader to block out the negative voices and thoughts that say you can’t do something and just plunge right in and do it. The secret to Bonnie’s success? Not hearing the bad stuff people say about you.

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