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Exclusive Interview

Dave Karger Adds Fandango to the Access Hollywood Mix

After joining Fandango in the fall of 2012, chief correspondent Dave Karger quickly began entertaining the ticket-buying masses with The Frontrunners, a look at actors and artists in the thick of film awards season. The distinguishing feature of the show, one of several Fandango series hosted by Karger, is a handicapping of the trophy hunt through the prism of a single, chosen scene from each guest’s contending film.

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When Karger kicks off Season Three of The Frontrunners next month, he will have another stellar guest and a synergistic new broadcast partner. The conversation with Emma Stone (Birdman) will be prominently featured on Fandango, per usual, starting November 12 and highlighted on an edition of NBCUniversal sister franchise Access Hollywood. The plan is to have Karger drop by weekly on the show to frame and share excerpts from The Frontrunners.

Access Hollywood is a show that I have been very involved with for over a decade,” Karger tells FishbowlNY via telephone, following our attendance of an intimate Tuesday night soiree hosted by Fandango in the Penthouse Bar of LA’s Soho House. ”I’ve appeared as an analyst, a guest and as the Oscars lunch correspondent for the past four years.”

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Grantland’s Emily Yoshida is Headed to The Verge

EmilyYoshidaPicGrantland culture editor Emily Yoshida recently indicated she was leaving the acclaimed Bill Simmons operation. Today, FishbowlNY can exclusively reveal her new professional home.

Yoshida has accepted the challenge of building out The Verge’s coverage of film, TV, music and related matters as entertainment editor. To do so, she will be relocating from Los Angeles to New York. Her last day at Grantland is Friday; she starts at The Verge November 17.

“This will be my first New York job, ever,” Yoshida tells us via telephone, on the call together with The Verge’s recently promoted editor-in-chief Nilay Patel. “I’m completely excited about it.”

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CNN Vet Alan Duke Jumps to Radar Online

AlanDukePhotoFor the past five and a half years, for all but one month, Alan Duke‘s byline has been the number one desktop-views attraction at CNN Digital. During that one month in question, Duke went on vacation for three weeks.

More specifically, for the first nine months of 2014, Duke’s byline attracted a staggering 300 million desktop page views. His most notable recent CNN item was a September 18 report, with Susan Candiotti, that Yorkville Endoscopy clinic workers told investigators they saw and heard Joan Rivers‘ personal doctor take a selfie with the unconscious entertainer.

Although Duke was spared in the latest round of CNN layoffs, the journalist – who had been with CNN since 1989 – decided it was time to leave. As of this week, he is the Los Angeles-based national correspondent for revamping AMI website Radar Online.

“Last month, there was an event that really told me this was the time to leave,” Duke tells FishbowlNY via telephone. “We had an internal “huddle” [meeting] for CNN Digital, which was both a pep talk and an update on business affairs. In the executives’ statements and voices, I just picked up panic and chaos.”

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EW Editor Matt Bean Previews the ‘Fall TV Preview’ Issue

Chelsea Handler has not done many print interviews since ending her E! show. But one of them can be found in the “Streaming” section of Entertainment Weekly‘s 2014 “Fall TV Preview” double issue, on newsstands today.

Handler shares at least one scoop about her upcoming 2016 Netflix talk show as she answers “Five Questions” about her October 10 one-hour stand-up special for the website, Uganda Be Kidding Me. The “Streaming” section also highlights Jeffrey Tambor‘s Amazon show Transparent, Season Two of Amazon’s political drama Alpha House and the AOL series Making a Scene with James Franco.

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“Streaming is more important than it’s ever been,” EW editor Matt Bean tells FishbowlNY via telephone. “The quality and caliber of the programs on streaming outlets cannot be not ignored. Our readers, even more so than with TV, need a guide to that kind of content because it comes at you so quickly. And in many cases, at such a phenomenal volume.”

“I think James Franco is one of the most fascinating actors in the business right now,” he continues. “He just tries things. We’ll have to see how he does with this [AOL] project, but it’s certainly like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

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AFAR Media’s Trajectory: Self-Funded, Bi-Coastal, Profitable

In 2009, AFAR Media was launched with a focus on travel and a combined $20 million investment from Joe Diaz, Greg Sullivan and Ernie Garcia. This summer, at the five-year anniversary mark and with the August/September issue having just hit newsstands, AFAR has arrived at profitability.

Branded content currently accounts for a third of AFAR’s revenues. In the latest print issue, starting on page 19, there is for example “Artisans Inspired.” Part of a year-long partnership with The Ritz-Carlton, the three-page feature is anchored around quotes from surfer Lon Klein, New York Botanical Gardens curator Karen Daubmann and international travel excursions leader Sean Nelson.

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“This is a multi-dimensional, multi-platform branded content program that lives in print, mobile and on desktop,” says Diaz during a recent telephone conversation with FishbowlNY. “How we try to approach branded content is – it’s really all about what is the core idea. What are the hooks, what are the elements that are going to get people excited.”

“We don’t care if it’s paid [content] or if it’s editorial,” he adds. “Our philosophy is that the content always has to be good. And we’re not shy about making sure everybody knows that this is paid for. The whole idea of the campaign is that artisans inspire and let’s help bring those rich values and characters to life, through the eyes of the people on the ground.”

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The Two-Pronged Approach Responsible for The Week’s Record Traffic

StevenKotkoHeadshotThe Web stats are all going in the right direction.

In May, per comScore, theweek.com registered 7.7 million unique visitors across all platforms. The Google Analytics numbers were even higher (ten million uniques). Meanwhile, for the first half of 2014, The Week will be reporting at the end of the month to the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) its highest-ever circulation total. Those stats will be publicly released August 7.

So how did they do it? “It’s really two-fold,” explains The Week and Mental Floss CEO Steven Kotok (pictured) during a recent phone conversation with FishbowlNY. “We’ve completely remade the content of the site in the last six to nine months, and there were two prongs to that.”

“On the one prong, we just went on a hiring spree and really wanted to hire the best, young opinion writers in the country,” he adds. “People we love to read and also, people with more ability on social media. Most of these people were brought on full-time; a couple have permanent freelance arrangements.”

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Dynamic Female Duo Now at the Helm of SheKnows

LeaAnnLemingPicThe best way to frame FishbowlNY’s phone conversation today with Lea Ann Leming, chief content officer of SheKnows (pictured, right), and newly hired editor-in-chief Amy Boshnack (pictured, below) is as follows. The company has been profitable for the past several years and expects a 30% increase in revenue in 2014.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that Cosmopolitan, a magazine where Boshnack served as managing editor from January 2005 to January 2008, has just revamped its website. When asked about the then-print vs. now-Web differences, Boshnack notes the obvious change in the speed of news and feature cycles. Per comScore, SheKnows currently averages around 40 million monthly uniques.

“A big thing for me is making sure the women reading us are having conversations,” Boshnack explains. “Part of what’s being done here is continuing to make sure that articles being published are about things women are talking about. And to feed that through our comments section, social media.”

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Steven Kotok Shares Some Felix Dennis Memories

Steven Kotok, a long-serving employee at Felix Dennis‘ various media enterprises and current CEO of The Week and Mental Floss, was among those who shared fond reminiscences for a recent theweek.com tribute following the colorful magnate’s passing. Speaking today via telephone with FishbowlNY, Kotok was kind enough to add a few more.

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“My first memory of Felix is back before Maxim was launched,” Kotok recalls. “It was a 12-person company in 1997 and this guy wandered up holding the plastic part of a six-pack of beer, that had three or four beers left in it. And some Doritos.”

“I was working away in the office at 7 p.m. or something, and he offered me a beer and Doritos. That was the first time I met him,” he adds. “He was a person who just, absolutely, did not want to stand on ceremony or pretense. I think if he had been an assistant, he would have behaved the exact same way. He didn’t know how to be any other way.”

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Chatting with a 92-Year-Old Sportswriting Legend

MurrayOldermanPicIt was my great pleasure, for the Mediabistro Q&A series “So What Do You Do?”, to recently speak via telephone with a true titan of the sportswriting field.

In addition to memorable cartoons, various books and countless newspaper articles, Murray Olderman is also largely responsible for the creation of MVP trophies in two separate U.S. professional sports team leagues. From the conversation:

” In my day, we were more or less on the same economic level as the athletes we were dealing with. And so they welcomed our attention and felt that we could help them.”

” Nowadays, they make so much more money than the people covering them, and they regard most of the media as a nuisance, except in the case of television, where they’re on camera and that serves their purpose.”

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Financial Times Launches New York Video Studio

Here’s something that may surprise anyone not already familiar with the Financial Times website. All video is in front of the paywall.

In recent years, video contributions from reporters in Europe, Asia and Africa have overtaken U.S. video content. However, thanks to a brand new fiber-tethered studio launching Monday at FT‘s New York offices, much more U.S. video content will soon be in the offing.

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“What I’m really focused on, for the rest of this year, is upping the contribution from the U.S. to our video output,” head of video Veronica Kan-Dapaah tells FishbowlNY via telephone. “Although we’ve had a very strong contribution from the U.S., over the last couple of years we’ve really ramped up the amount that we’ve been doing from Europe, Africa and Asia. So that overall, percentage wise, the U.S. contribution has fallen back a bit.”

“We think that the U.S. stories are really key to the editorial,” she adds. “The markets in particular.”

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