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In a move that affects event sponsorship as much as art, top celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz has been tapped as the official U.S. Olympic team photographer following a year of intense negotiations.

Conde Nast Publications' Vanity Fair will ride her coattails into a Summer Games presence despite Time Warner's Sports Illustrated's category-exclusive sponsorship.

Bypassing top sports shutterbugs in favor of the high-profile Ms. Leibovitz-whose exclusive contract with Conde Nast parent Advance Publications pays her a reported $2 million a year-shows the marketing-oriented mind-set of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. The move indicates a bid by ACOG to enrich Olympic coffers via new outlets while raising its own profile and that of U.S. Olympians.

"We're doing a cultural program with Annie Leibovitz," said Cassandra Henning, an attorney for ACOG who was a key architect in cobbling together the deal.

Ms. Leibovitz's work will be showcased in the May issue of Vanity Fair, in an official Summer Games program by Sports Illustrated and in an exhibition sponsored by Swatch Watch USA.


As part of the deal, Vanity Fair made a sizable donation to the U.S. Olympic Committee, believed to be in the $4 million range. And Time Warner, which paid $40 million to the International Olympic Committee to make Sports Illustrated the official magazine of the Olympics, agreed to allow the May issue of Vanity Fair to be a sanctioned U.S. Olympic Committee project.

Swatch, another $40 million sponsor and the official timekeeper of the Games, is underwriting most of the expenses for Ms. Leibovitz and will display her photos on-site during the Atlanta Games before sending them on a tour of North America, Asia and Africa.


The Official Program, a glitzy showcase complete with an advanced-technology flickering torch on the cover, will include a six-page photo essay. The 200-page guide will have 80 ad pages, at $50,000 each, from Olympic sponsors including Coca-Cola Co. and General Motors Corp.

Ad and circulation revenue for the program will be split by Sports Illustrated and ACOG. It carries a $10 cover price and is expected to sell up to 800,000 copies.

Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter, who saw some of Ms. Leibovitz's Olympics photos last week, called them "some of Annie's best work ever." He plans to highlight them in the May issue.

The magazine, which has a rate base of 1 million, will distribute an additional 250,000 issues of the May issue to newsstands.

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