O.J. scores again on '95 covers

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Call it the year of the Juice. There he was on the cover of People, with a few appearances on Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report, but especially in the tabloids. Yes, 1995 was the year of the O.J. Simpson murder case, and the National Enquirer and Star were there to tell the story.

In all, the O.J. saga made the covers of 90 magazines during the year, earning 107 points and the right to claim the Cover Story crown for 1995.

Of course, the legal melodrama topped the magazine cover poll last year with 61 points based on 54 cover appearances, all coming in the six months after the June 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

But with a full year of the ongoing tale to entice readers in 1995, the tabloids responded with nearly weekly cover play.

There's "never been anything even close," said Phil Bunton, editor in chief of the Star. "I guess the only comparison would be when Elvis died," but that was a brief blaze of publicity.

But a change could be in sight. "In 1996, I think O.J. will kind of be left behind, and the Star will move on to other scandals," Mr. Bunton said. And readers could want a change.

"I think they are getting a little sick of it. We've certainly taken a lot less interest" since his acquittal, Mr. Bunton said.

One news event on Mr. Bunton's wish list for the new year involves Cover Story's second in command for '95: a wedding for Oprah Winfrey.

"Every year she says she'll do it and she never does," he said. "People want to read about her. And they don't want to read anything negative about her."

The talk show host scored 46 points on the strength of 34 covers, landing in the No. 2 slot for the second year in a row.

At People, Managing Editor Landon Y. Jones has some royal hopes. "The story I really want is for [Princess] Diana to start dating," Mr. Jones said, who wishes the princess would get together with John F. Kennedy Jr. Mr. Jones also thinks '96 covers could be good to actor Brad Pitt and his girlfriend, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, and the cast of "Friends," while the Olympics and the presidential election are sure to offer lots of possibilities.

Primarily thanks to a wave of publicity surrounding the BBC interview about her troubled marriage, Princess Di moved up to third place for '95 after placing tenth last year. The estranged wife of Prince Charles scored 28.5 points from 22 covers.

The No. 4 spot goes to TV's favorite doctor, George Clooney, with 23 points based on 15 cover appearances. Coming in fifth is funnyman Jim Carrey, who won 21 points from 12 covers.

TV personality Kathie Lee Gifford comes in sixth, with 20.5 points based on 11 covers. Two divas duke it out for seventh place, with Whitney Houston and Liz Taylor each earning 19.5 points from 15 and 12 covers, respectively. Coming in ninth is actress Sandra Bullock, with 18.5 points from eight covers. Three more Hollywood types tie for tenth with 17 points apiece, with Antonio Banderas on eight covers, and Tom Hanks and Nicole Kidman each starring on seven covers.

Cover Story is Ad Age's monthly ranking of celebrities' popularity as reflected by their appearances on the covers of more than 30 of the nation's leading publications.

Copyright December 1995 Crain Communications Inc.

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