Rumors of Fuller's Exit From Star Finally Come True

What Everyone Is Talking About

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You know how sometimes a news event finally arrives a year or more after the celebrity weeklies started wrongly, repeatedly insisting it had already happened? That's how Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey's divorce, for example, finally became real. And that's how it felt when Bonnie Fuller left American Media last week.
Star editor Bonnie Fuller says that she's moving on because she has 'accomplished her mission.'
Star editor Bonnie Fuller says that she's moving on because she has 'accomplished her mission.' Credit: Nancy Kaszerman

As the editor most responsible for the rise of glossy tabloids, Ms. Fuller's tenure as editorial director of American Media drew scrutiny from the people who watch the media business as closely as most people watch celebrities. So when she transformed Star magazine from a flimsy tabloid into a glossy, more mainstream gossip magazine, everyone wondered whether she could replicate her earlier success at Wenner Media's Us Weekly. And after it became clear that Star wasn't rising quite that far, the industry started wondering whether she and American Media would split.

Occasional rumors spread that Ms. Fuller was looking elsewhere and even that her departure was imminent. But nothing came of it until now.

Ms. Fuller told Ad Age last week that she was dropping her contract, worth $2 million a year at the minimum, more than 10 months early because her success at the company was complete. "I felt that I really had accomplished my mission," she said. "I think that I accomplished a tremendous amount. Turning Star from a tabloid to a glossy magazine is something that had never been done."

Her ambitions once sounded a little grander than that. "If you look at Star, it says over the logo, 'The No. 1 Celebrity News Magazine,'" she said in 2003, the year American Media poached her from Wenner Media's Us Weekly. "I want it to live up to its title."

By paid circulation, ad pages and estimated revenue, however, Star ranked third as Ms. Fuller headed for the exit.

In any case, her departure takes an expensive contract off the books just as rumors have resurfaced that American Media Chairman-CEO David Pecker has neared a deal to sell the company to investors led by Ron Burkle. We'll keep as close an eye on everyone's next chapters as we did on the chapter just closed.
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