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Archives: January 2006

The PLAY‘s the thing

As Fishbowl has mentioned, the NYT‘s new sports magazine PLAY comes out on Superbowl Sunday, which is this Sunday.

PLAY is an interesting animal, a start-up mag with great cred and instant circulation of roughly one million*, courtesy of the Sunday Times. It also has instant cred in editor Mark Bryant, late of Outside (with three ASME Excellence Awards) and big dreams of being everything to every sporto: (“It is a magazine for all sports enthusiasts, from serious fans to those who lean more toward playing sports than watching them”).

I wondered how advertisers would see it – my guess was that the NYT would bag some new clients. Which, according spokesperson Diane McNulty, is exactly what has happened. According to McNulty, new advertisers in PLAY include the NFL, plus other sports leagues, athletic watches, and alcohol brands, plus “high-end sports cars and SUV’s that we don’t normally get, but are running in this publication for the sports/outdoor environment.” The issue will have 50 pages of advertising — “most of those campaigns being new to The Times.”

Wow. Big haul. There are gender implications to this, obviously — suddenly advertisers are jumping at an opportunity that typically is not associated with women (though if I could drive I’d want a cute sports car, and also, Malcolm Gladwell is a boy and he doesn’t like SUVs). Says McNulty: “The common thread is that they want to align themselves with a sports magazine that is unique — a thoughtful, intelligent New York Times approach to sports.” I would guess that another common thread is market research, but since I have done none, that’s all I have to say about that.

What you’ll find in PLAY this Sunday besides ads that know you’re discriminating and wonderful: Mark Levine‘s different-we-promise Bode Miller piece; Michael Lewis on football, specifically “the person who made the play that changed the course of Super Bowl I” and, indeed, football itself (factchecker, factchecker, check me a fact…); Chip McGrath, Joe Nocera and Michael Sokolove; plus Freakonomics duo Stephen Dubner and Steven Leavitt, on loan from the NYT mag. I know what you’re wondering: where are the chicks? Answer: draped all over that Lamborghini Ultra!** (We kid, we kid.) McNulty assured me that the mag is replete with female writers and photographers including writers Jennifer Allen and Gretchen Reynolds.

p.s. I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a Lamborghini Ultra.

*UPDATE: I originally used the 1.6 million Sunday circulation number from the NYT corporate site but Diane McNulty has more specific numbers: 800,000 paid copies in the NY area plus 150,000 bonus circulation outside of the NY area, for an approximate total audience of about 3 million readers in print and on-line.

Mark Bryant Comes Out to PLAY [Big & Sharp]

Related in audio:

Come Out And Play [Offspring]

USC film school: many are called, few are chosen

usc.jpgSixty-odd years ago, our country’s brightest young intellectuals and artists agonized over deciding whether or not to risk their lives by going to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Now, according to the NYT, many of them agonize over deciding whether or not to risk their credit rating by going to USC film school. Which, I have to say, sounds like it’s a lot less fun than it was in the seventies.

‘Newsweek’ gets it right

newsw.jpgThe current issue of Newsweek features its annual Oscars-nominations-pegged roundtable, which, this year, focuses on directors. The issue goes to press before the nominees are announced, which means that the magazine has to take guesses on whom to invite. Sometimes, like all of us, they miss (last year, for instance, Paul Giamatti was included in the actor round-table, even though the Academy snubbed him), but this year they’re five for five, and they have a goofy photo to prove it.

Interestingly, a Newsweek spokesperson told us that last year’s newsstand sales for the Oscars issue was “below average” for the magazine.

LAT in 90 seconds

- Some people think movies are too political; others think they aren’t political enough. Why, maybe they’re just right!

- Anyone remember that book Masquerade which spawned a massive global treasure hunt? Well, now the internet and television are catching up to children’s books from two decades ago.

- Joel Stein may not support the troops in Iraq, but he does support the hookers in Grand Theft Auto.

New York‘s New Look

new york's loverly new look.jpg
I was secretly glad that New York magazine was on hiatus for the week because it gave me the chance to monitor the “Most Popular” feature and see what was moving, which was super interesting (finally, Vera Wang gets her moment in the spotlight!). But after two weeks of nipping back to the NYMag website, I got a jolt last night when I clicked back and found an entirely new look.

Yes, I knew it was coming; an email from rep Betsy Burton yesterday at 11:38 am let me know it was re-launching that night. Nonetheless, it was a shock — where was the bold red? What were all these new nav buttons? Was it me, or were there way less bylines? It’s hard for me to be objective here because I hate website redesigns (Daily News, I miss the old blue); it’s no different with New York. What can I say: I’ve grown accustomed to its [inter]face (Lerner and Loewe still relevant? Check).

So I will restrict my comments to matters of utility and aesthetics. The new look is sleek and navigable, with lots of blue a la Salon (my comments on that redesign apply here). I like that they seem to have added a daily component, though I would love to be able to click on “Daily New York” and get a page for that day (blog blog do I hear a blog?). I like the “Backstory” feature accompanying some articles. Great idea. (Links here would help too.) I clicked on the Ryan Adams pic to see what THAT backstory would be but there was none. Yes, the kid won’t stop releasing albums, but that just means there’s plenty of ink on him). Links to previous articles keep people on your site longer.

I don’t have the old website handy to compare, but I’m pretty sure that bylines have far less prominence. Why? New York has great contributors; readers and surfers recognize names. Bring ‘em back. Your people deserve the credit. Good example: I’d never click on “New Novel by Writer NY Moms Love to Hate”; I would, however, be eager to see what Culture ed. Emily Nussbaum had to say in her first byline since going on maternity leave (link here now that you’re interested).

Newsletters: good; going from “Most Popular” to a generic “Most Emailed” box, meh. As we all know, that isn’t the only gauge of what someone might want to see. I’m actually being quite serious. Monitoring who prints what when etc. has been an eye-opener.

By the way, I’m no web designer or anything-else designer. I’m just someone who spends a lot of time in front of the computer, and a lot of time on the New York website. Also, I’m self-important. So take these comments with that in mind.

How eavesdropping can get you on TV (okay, MSNBC)

oheard.jpgOn April 28, 2005, I had been in this gig for less than a month and had no clue who most of you were. Right. So it’s not surprising that I, not unlike Wendell Jamieson, had no clue what “Overheard in New York” was until July (after Michael Malice had invited me to his birthday party, btw).

Which is why I had no idea until this second that OHNY had actually broken the Katie-Holmes-and-Tom-Cruise-Are-Actually-Serious story, like so:

Gawker Stalker, I Think You Missed One
Katie Holmes: He introduced me to his kids! And he’s taking me to Rome on a private jet this weekend.

–Starbucks, Waverly Place

Pretty hilarious. Apparently Tucker Carlson was fascinated by that last night when he had OHNY’s Michael Malice on to chat about the new OHNY book. Intrepid Fishbowl correspondent Bucky Turco was on hand to see, photograph, and opine. Appaently Michael made a point of saying that it’s not a blog, its’ a website that is updated daily (in reverse chronological order, no less. Honey. That’s a blog. Not nice to mislead the Tucker). Here’s my favorite part:

At one point Tucker equated the overheard stuff with wiretapping and Michael kind of responded, but there are no wires.

Hilarious. I love that. Then Tucker said that he’d expect some privacy if he were on a payphone, proving that he’s never lived in New York City, where the payphones are OUTSIDE. Said Malice: “I don’t believe in the right to privacy, its not in the constitution.” No doubt he will be watching tonight’s “State of the Union” address with interest.

Funny note: both Tucker and Malice have semi-unusual tie habits: Tucker’s is his bowtie, which has gone from unfortunate fashion choice to jaunty calling card, and, though we can’t tell from this photo, Malice’s is his ubiquitous hacked-from-a-tie arm band (under which, we have no doubt, is a tattoo which reads “Fuck The Bullshit It’s Time To Throw Down”).

“Overheard in New York” and the NYT: Coincidence, but no Malice aforethought [FBNY]

Media Minutiae, Supafast Supafly Edition

  • Ted Koppel wrote his first Times Op-Ed column!
  • Shafer LOVED it.
  • The NYT‘s coverage of Memoirs of a Geisha actresses is Gong Show, sez Tom Scocca.
  • Maxim…India? Yep. Sold out in a day, according to Maxim UK editor Greg Gutfeld. Over 80K copies.
  • The NYT’s search for truthiness…yields four hits. (But one of them’s a Stanley correction.) Still, three-fer usage by the paper of record? Those word people were right.
  • Dependent filmmaking is honored by Oscar

    We bloggers get up at dawn for no one. Except, of course, for our weird uncle, Oscar. oscar.jpeg

    Since we’re up, we might as well tell you it’s an odd list of movies for best picture this year: Aside from the expected slew of nominations from “Brokeback Mountain” which the AP points out led the Academy Awards tally with eight, it was largely specialized studio-owned “dependie” film divisions that got all the love.

    Also nominated for best picture: United Artists’ last gasp, “Capote”; Warner Independent Picture’s “Good Night, and Good Luck”; Lions Gate’s “Crash” got in the door. The only “studio” picture was DreamWorks and Universal’s‘ blood-soaked “Munich.”

    This reminds us of a happier time — when Oscars were the goal of all studio heads. Now, with the seduction of 14 year old boys as the major studios’ tacitly primary occupation, its their highbrow counterparts at studio specialized divisions like Focus Features and United Artists and Warner “independent” Pictures that have to do all the serious work.

    Ah, well: What did you expect? “Good Night and Good Luck” for the Play Station Portable? “Brokeback Mountain” for Gameboy? (Or would it be Gaymboy? Hmmm. We digress.) Of course not. When it comes to the big studios, it is as Phillip Seymour Hoffman tells Clifton Collins Jr. in “Capote”, “There is not a word or a sentence or a concept that you can illuminate for me.”

    At last, Oscar truly is ‘The Truman Show.’

    Untitled and unwritten, Klein’s pitch is dancing with the stars at Paramount

    Paramount has preemptively bought a pich from “Serendipty” writer Marc Klein as a starring vehicle for Tom Cruise. 04-tom.jpg

    “We believe Marc Klein has come up with an original and very moving love story,” Cruise/Wagner exec Don Granger told Daily Variety.

    Throughout the pitch meeting, both Paramount and C/W Prods. executives were careful to observe Cruise’s body language: Early on, Cruise leapt over a couch and performed an Arabesque on one of Granger’s ottomans, signifying strong initial interest.

    However, an insider familiar with the talks noted that it wasn’t until Cruise actually performed a fouette rond de jambe en tournant on producing partner Paula Wagner‘s credenza that all concerned knew the star was hooked. Only then could breathless ICM agents exhale and procede apace with a deal memo.

    Shockingly enough, the logline is being kept under wraps.

    CSI: Crime Scene Instigation?

    clorox.gifCrime Scene.jpgApparently, you can learn something from watching hour upon hour of TV.