Martha Nelson, the editor of Time Inc.'s People Group, agreed that celebrity fascination may be softening somewhat -- possibly as one generation's stars get too familiar and the next generation remain too young to replace them.
But factors including the competitive environment, fiercer than ever, aren't helping any shift away from star saturation, Ms. Nelson said. "There's probably 40 magazines that would like to have the same six people on the cover every month," she told conference attendees.
Peter Herbst, editor in chief at Premiere magazine, said too many people come out of reality shows who are then stars for all of 10 minutes. "The stratosphere has become polluted with 10-minute celebrities," he said, with a caveat: "The mania for it has not subsided at all."
The rise of actors on men's magazine covers, instead of the athletes and models that came before, dates back to Ed Posner at Esquire and Art Cooper at GQ, Mr. Herbst added, but doesn't seem to be reversible. Something similar has obviously happened even with women's fashion magazines in the last 10 or 15 years, he said. Now newsstand sales seem to require it.
Glenda Bailey, editor in chief of Harper's Bazaar didn't have any cold water to throw there. "I wish I was in a position to put models on the cover," she said. "But that isn't going to happen."