What do you think of your Ellies chances?
No way to predict. Last year, I assumed we'd be sitting in our chairs all night, politely applauding all our friends. We got two.
You are up against GQ for general excellence. How would you characterize your rivalry with GQ? Do you pay attention to what they do, or ignore them?
For a long time now, I've believed that our competition for consumers is not limited to other magazines. We try to create a magazine that can compete with the Web and everything on cable and DVD, as well as other magazines. I don't think people are deciding between one magazine and another -- they've got a whole menu of entertainment options and it's all those outlets that I have to keep abreast of. Plus, I always root for Alan Richman to win a National Magazine Award.
Who'd you rather, ScarJo or Sienna Miller? Also, how has the "Women We Love" franchise grown for the magazine?
That's an impossible choice and one that's entirely irrelevant to the possibilities inherent in my life. I can imagine, though, that each would offer distinct delights and complications. As for "Women We Love," we just have fun with it. A couple years ago, we started doing this long, slow, six-month reveal of who we would be naming the sexiest woman alive in our November issue. It's been funny and well-received. Against all expectations, men continue to be interested in women, and we try to offer some insight in various places in the magazine in amusing ways.
"I can imagine, though, that [ScarJo and Sienna] would offer distinct delights and complications."
Take us through a typical day in the life of Esquire's editor.
If I'm in New York, wake up at 5:00 a.m. or so, get to the office at 7, read the Times and browse a couple sites. The TV on my computer is on to provide background noise and to alert me if the world blows up. Then, who knows? Some days, I spend the day reacting to the needs of the staff and the corporation. Other days, I'm more proactive and plot out the next issues or the next year, depending on how smart I'm feeling. The key to a good day is getting to talk with the people on my staff. All our good ideas come out of conversation. We're not big on meetings, unless they have a specific, limited purpose. If it's a really good day, I get to work on a story on work with [design director David] Curcurito on our cover and have a meal with someone interesting I don't know well.
How do you feel about the state of the industry?
I feel good. We're saddled with a few challenges, primarily in the area of how we distribute magazines and how we reach a new potential audience. And, we may be feeling the first effects of advertisers spending more online. But, I think that will pass as everyone learns how to use the Web most effectively. Right now, a lot of advertisers are feeling pressure not to miss out on the Web and are buying ads in a scattershot way. But that will even out.
Creatively, the magazine industry has more potential than it's ever had and I think one huge advantage we will continue to have in the era of digital and mobile devices is simply our tangibility. Magazines can be beautiful objects as well as providers of information and perspective -- and beauty is not a word that often gets associated with consuming content on your phone.
A lot of magazines are currently trying to figure out the Web. Has Esquire figured it out?
What's the next step for Esquire? What's the next step for you personally?
We have a massive 2008 well along in the planning stages. And it's amazing how quickly the brand is expanding internationally -- this year Esquires from two countries, U.S. and Russia, are each finalists for the magazine of the year at SPD. We also will continue to refine and expand what we're doing online. And I'm looking forward to the growth of the publication launched last year -- Esquire's Big Black Book. We're also in the midst of rolling out some cool little things like five lines of greeting cards based on some of our regular features. Personally? I'm hoping to keep my job a little while longer.
Finally, what will you be wearing to the Ellies?
Dunno. Either something made by Frank Shattuck, a friend of mine who is a master tailor, or a tux I inherited a long time ago. Or, something I just bought from Dunhill.