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Archives: March 2011

USC Grad Has Soft Spot for ‘Nation’s Most Revolting Fitness Club’

For the brand new Zócalo Square feature “Where I Go”, recent USC masters in writing grad Meghan Lewit decided to write up her gym.

This is no Pilates or yoga haven. Rather, it’s a 24-Hour Fitness in a Koreatown office building that has reviewers on Yelp reaching for the negative slams. Lewit shows a comical flair for description, dubbing the fitness room as being like the set of “an Olivia Newton John video” and sharing the humiliation of “being pitied by a fellow member of a [higher ranked LA area] 24-Hour Fitness.” But there’s a silver lining:

My gym brings together a genuine cross-section of the city. There are lots of Asians, many Latinos, a handful of blacks, a few whites, some Indians, and even the occasional Borat-like patron of mysterious origin. You might even say that my gym is the city of Los Angeles.

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Advocate Group Names New Creative Director

More internal promotions at The Advocate. Scott McPherson has just been named creative director for the Advocate Group–which includes The Advocate in all its various media incarnations as well as HIV Plus magazine and its website HIVPlusMag.com. McPherson was most recently the group’s art director, having previously worked as for Out and The Out Traveler.

Press release after the jump:

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KCET May Sell Studio to Church of Scientology

The LA Times is reporting that public television station KCET is in talks to sell their historic Sunset Boulevard studio to the Church of Scientology. The Los Feliz studio dates back to 1912, and was once the home of Monogram Pictures and Allied Artists. According to the LA Times, the Sunset Blvd. property has an assessed value of $14.1 million. KCET responded to the rumors with a post on the station website:

We would like to respond to the erroneous information being circulated about KCET. Here is the truth: KCET is NOT being sold. We are firmly committed to being Southern California’s independent public TV station.

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Virginia Heffernan Is Moving to the Opinion Pages at the New York Times

Virginia Heffernan, former columnist for The New York Times Magazine, has a new position at the Times: starting Monday, she will “write regularly for the Opinion pages,” she told Adweek.

She also announced her new position over Twitter: “Some late Wednesday news: I’m going to the NYT’s Opinion pages. Excited.”

Heffernan, 41, was with the Times Magazine for four years until earlier this year, when new editor Hugo Lindgren decided to end her column, “The Medium.”

This news comes following several departures at the Times‘ Opinion pages, including Bob Herbert, who recently left to pursue other projects, Frank Rich, who left earlier this month for New York magazine, David Shipley, who left for Bloomberg’s new opinion venture, and editor Mark Lotto, who is leaving for GQ.

How Well Is The Daily Actually Doing?

So, people love to hate on The Daily. That whole oldest dog in South Dakota thing. The fact that reporters keep leaving it for else where. But mostly people hate on it because they think no one is reading it, and everyone likes to engage in a little bit of schadenfreude.

But just how well, or poorly, is The Daily actually doing? When it began charging on March 21, it did so amid rumors that it had only 5,000 subscribers. While publisher Greg Clayman told Ad Age that downloads numbered in the “hundreds of thousands,” he wouldn’t say how many have paid for the app, only saying that the 5,000 figure “isn’t accurate.”

Jeff Bercovici at Forbes doesn’t know how many subscriptions The Daily has sold (that number remains a mystery) but he has amassed the data on how well The Daily did during trial: the app was downloaded 500,000 times, which means that around 2.5 percent of iPad users have at least tried out The Daily. He was also told The Daily has 75,000 “regular users,” meaning 15 percent of those who downloaded it liked it enough to keep reading it at least as long as it was free. The Daily didn’t officially comment on these figures, unsurprisingly.

Let’s put this in context: Jeff Jarvis estimated that The Daily would need 750,000 subscribers at its current price of 99 cents a week to start breaking even. So, guess they have their work cut out for them.

Blanketed | Couric Time | People are Odd

Rachel Uchitel Creates A Stir at Michael’s

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Having covered the scene at Michael’s for some time now, I’ve been witness to plenty of Fellini-esque tableaus where the head-spinning mix of stars and strivers, masters of the universe, and alien-like actors never ceases to amuse and occasionally amaze me, but today was off the charts. What started as an afternoon of ramped up power lunches (Harvey Weinstein and James Dolan! RogerAiles and Jon Meacham!) turned into a game of Spot The Tabloid Temptress. I just happened to be at the front desk when regular Henry Schleiff came in followed by a blonde, pillow-lipped gal hiding behind her huge sunglasses. I immediately recognized her as Rachel Uchitel.  What was Tiger Woods‘ infamous mistress doing with Henry? I couldn’t wait to ask him. Before I could, she darted around us, averting my eyes and making her way into the dining room. Turns out she was on her way to meet Vanity Fair’s Michael Callahan. “Did you see who that was?” I asked Henry. When I told him, he quipped, “I didn’t recognize her with her clothes on!”

Even though the party girl-turned-private eye (according to The New York Post, she’s on her first case here in New York and awaiting her gun license) and Callahan were seated behind a pillar in the back of the room, word of her arrival spread like wildfire.  I wonder what the two of them talked about during their fairly quick lunch. Could it be that Graydon Carter has greenlit yet another piece on Woods? It would be quite cheeky of him to put Uchitel on Tiger’s tail, wouldn’t it? It seems more likely that Callahan is penning a piece on Uchitel’s post-Tiger life as a self-confessed recovering “love addict.” Stay tuned …

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. It’s Harvey’s world and we just live in it. Shortly after noon, Harvey Weinstein arrived with two guys — one looked like Robert Pattinson‘s younger brother and the other like Vladmir Putin. Once the trio was seated, Harvey busied himself playing with his phone while his two babysitters? bodyguards? couldn’t sit still. One spent the entire time pacing between the table and the front door, while the other hopped up every other minute to look out the window as he talked on the phone. Could they have been tracking Harvey’s lunch date? All I know is when Cablevision’s James Dolan finally arrived, they took off.  Harvey then took out a pair of earphones to listen to a recording of some importance while Dolan sat by impassively. I don’t know what the hell really went on, but observing the scene felt like watching an episode of Mission Impossible.

2. PMK’s Cindi Berger and a handsome fellow we didn’t get to meet

3. Political commentator and marketing maestro Robert Zimmerman and Tad Smith

4. Random House EVP Jon Meacham and Fox News chief Roger Ailes, chowing down on burgers and fries. Jon arrived early and spent the time waiting for Ailes by chatting with the staff. We couldn’t help but notice that the ex-Newsweek editor looks a lot more relaxed since leaving the struggling magazine. It’s Tina Brown‘s problem now! Their table was clearly the center of gravity today as pretty much anyone who is anybody (read: all the suits in the room) stopped by to pay homage.

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Hearst To Fire As Much As 45 Percent of Hachette Filipacchi Media Workforce After Acquisition

When news came Monday that Hearst was set to buy the magazines published outside of France by Lagardère, it was estimated that layoffs at Lagardère’s U.S. division Hachette Filipacchi would be as high as 30 percent.

The New York Post now reports that the headcount at Hachette Filipacchi Media, whose flagship magazine is Elle, is down to to 633, according to a spokeswoman. Hearst is said to be expecting to retain only about 350 HFM employees, once its agreement with Lagardère is finalized (supposedly before July 1). That would mean a downsizing of about 45 percent of the current HFM workforce.

At this point, the Post reports that advertising, marketing, and editorial are not expected to sustain major losses, and much of the firings will be from the back-office operations.

Fox 5′s Good Day New York Heads to Yankee Stadium for Thursday Opener

Ushering in the new baseball season,  WNYW/Fox 5 takes Good Day New York on the road tomorrow for the Yankees season opener.

Greg Kelly and Rosanna Scotto will host Good Day from Yankee Stadium.

Among the highlights, Kelly and Scotto will take viewers inside the dugout, while sports anchor Duke Castiglione interviews Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. 

The live broadcast from 7 to 10 a.m. also features Yankee Stadium head groundskeeper Dan Cunningham discussing field preparations for opening day. Additionally, Kelly and Scotto will get the thoughts of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.  

Fox 5 sister station My9/WWOR is, once again, the over-the-air home for 21 Yankee games this season.

Reporter Gets to the Bottom of Universal’s New Fake Movie Phone Number

It started innocently enough. Tribune reporter Mark Caro was struck while watching the recent Matt Damon movie The Adjustment Bureau when a phone number without that annonying “555″ phony movie prefix was uttered on screen.

Caro later dialed up 212-664-7665 and sure enough, it rang, but there was no answer. In his article, after sharing the colorful history of real-fake Hollywood phone numbers and the near litigious chaos that ensued when God’s digits were listed in Universal’s 2003 comedy Bruce Almighty as 776-2323, he offers this fascinating tidbit:

It turns out Universal, perhaps having learned from the Bruce Almighty fiasco, bought its very own number with a New York area code. It appeared in the studio’s 2008 movie Definitely, Maybe, in the studio’s 2010 movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. And now it’s in The Adjustment Bureau.

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