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Posts Tagged ‘Liz Vaccariello’

Woody Johnson, Jared Kushner and a Haute New Hollywood Handbag Designer

LunchAtMichaelsSince so many media mavens and talking heads have headed to the West Coast for Oscar week, my lunch today with designer Michelle Vale was particularly timely. Just a few days ago, Michelle sent off several of her handbags to LaLa land in hopes that a certain Best Actress nominee will walk down the red carpet carrying one of her creations come Sunday night. If the actress, whose name for the moment is top secret (“But she’s a big Oscar person!”) utters Michelle’s name when she is asked the million dollar question of the night — “Who are you wearing?” — by E!’s Giuliana Rancic, that could mean very big things for the designer. “You never know what’s going to happen,” Michelle told me. “An actress can pick a dress and change her mind at the last minute. She can look in her suitcase and pick up something else. I won’t know until I see her on television.”

Diane Clehane and Michelle Vale

Diane Clehane and Michelle Vale

No stranger to the celebrity scene, Michelle’s collection of sophisticated, versatile designs that allow women to customize their bags by selecting a variety of  different hardware and straps  — all made right her in New York City — have been worn by Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, Kate Bosworth and Kate Beckinsale. Michelle also managed to score valuable television exposure on Gossip Girl, a favorite of fashionistas everywhere where posh Upper East Siders played by Blake Lively and Leighton Meester toted around the Amex Black cards in Michelle Vale handbags.

While fashion was part of Michelle’s DNA — dad was a senior vice president of Sasson Jeans, favored by aspiring disco divas everywhere in the 80s, and mom once owned a boutique, she never planned on going into the business as a career. “I used to go to Studio 54 with my father,” Michelle told me. “It was such a big part of my childhood that I wanted to something completely different, so I got a master’s in counseling  children which, as it turns out, has come in handy in this business.” It was when the accidental designer got pregnant quickly after getting married that she decided she wanted to do something that allowed her to stay at home with her newborn son. “I literally started the business with my son in my lap,” she said.

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Barry Diller, David Zaslav and the Exclusive on Star Jones’ TV Plans

LunchAtMichaelsIt was business as usual at Michael’s today, which means it was wall-to-wall moguls (Barry Diller, David Zaslav), EICs (Liz Vaccariello, Alison Brower) and TV newsers (Ron Insana, Felicia Taylor and Lynn Sherr) – and plenty of other famous faces. I was joined by Star Jones, one of my favorite regulars at 55th and Fifth, who I met when I was one of the first reporters to cover the freshman season of The View. Suffice to say there’s been plenty that’s happened in Star’s professional and personal life since then, and she’s come through it all wiser, funnier and more determined than ever to forge her own path. Sitting at Table 1 today, nibbling on her kale salad with a side of salmon, she practically glowed with happiness.

She was excited to tell me about her role as chief development officer and national spokesperson for the National Association of Professional Women, where she is serving as a passionate advocate for members on healthcare and equal pay, which, she said, has become a tent pole issue. With most of NAPW’s members in middle management and plenty of entrepreneurs in the ranks, Star is all about “stiletto networking,” as she told me, which involves developing programming for the membership that will help empower them to reach their goals. “This is an opportunity for me to use all my experience and not just be in one box as an attorney, talk show host or author. Women’s lives are comprised of so many difference facets; it’s exciting to act as a advocate for NAPW, as I’ve done with my work for the American Heart Association, for causes that I’m passionate about.” She has also created the NAPW Foundation which, in addition to AHA, supports the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Dress for Success and Girls Inc. Star also brings another valuable skill to NAPW:  finding the right benefits and services to offer to its members. “You know I’m good at getting perks for the sisters!”

Michael Cominotto, Diane Clehane, Star Jones and Katherine Butkevich

From left: Michael Cominotto, Diane Clehane, Star Jones and Katherine Butkevich

Ever since she forged her age on her driver’s license (upping it from 15 to 16) so she could get a job at McDonald’s (“The statute has run out on that crime!”), Star has been creating unforeseen opportunities for herself that have defied expectations. In the early 90s, she went from the Brooklyn DA’s office to the small screen when she was tapped as a commentator for Court TV and Inside Edition, covering high profile cases like William Kennedy Smith’s rape trial and The OJ Simpson case. By the time she left her seat at the table with Barbara Walters on her ABC chatfest, she was one of daytime television’s most famous faces. Of her run on The View: “They were the best eight years of my life,” she said before adding with some laughter, “But I was on for nine years and that last year was a little rough.” But, like they say, time heals all wounds, and Star reports her relationship with Walters is better than ever. Read more

A Rodale Refugee Reunion; Christine Lahti Penning a Memoir?

1003_mockup.gifAs faithful readers of this column know, in the meta media universe that is Wednesdays at Michael’s, there is no end to the way fellow diners are connected. I was joined today by Liz Vaccariello, editor-in-chief and chief content officer of Reader’s Digest and the author of New York Times‘ best sellers The Digest Diet and The Digest Diet Cookbook. Minutes after Liz sat down, David Zinczenko arrived and the two Rodale refugees exchanged a big hug and chatted while I made the rounds in the dining room. When things settled down, Liz explained that both she and Dave got to know each other during “The Steve Murphy Era” at Rodale when she was Prevention‘s EIC.  ”It was Dave who paved the way for so many editors to write books – including me,” she added. During those halcyon days at Rodale, Liz penned Flat Belly Diet!, which sold a million copies, and the equally successful Flat Belly Diet! 400 Calorie Fix and became an in-demand health and fitness expert on television, securing a spot as a regular guest host on The Doctors and appearing regularly on Good Morning America, which she still does for Reader’s Digest. She’s even logged two seasons on The Biggest Loser.

Liz left Prevention to helm Every Day with Rachael Ray and, in 2011, landed her “dream job” at Reader’s Digest, which has even taken her to the Oval Office. In an interview she scored with President Barack Obama, he told her that his grandfather would have been proud to see him featured in the magazine’s pages since he tore out the jokes in his issues to save for his grandson. It’s easy to see why the stunning and energetic mother of twin eight-year-old daughters, Sophia and Olivia, finds the EIC job at the iconic publication (which as a 99 percent brand awareness rating among Americans) a perfect fit. Between bites of her kale chicken Caesar salad, she enthused about the “positive, life-affirming” stories that have been RD‘s signature throughout its long history. In fact, she told me that she had plans to bring more of that signature all-American optimism into the mix by ”returning [the brand] to its roots.” But make no mistake about it — while  features like its well-loved jokes, “Quotable Quotes” and “Word Power,” are an enduring part of the mix, this is not your grandmother’s Reader’s Digest.

Liz Vaccariello and Diane Clehane

I was fascinated to learn that the magazine was the first publication to be available on Kindle and one of the first to offer readers an app. In December of last year, digital sales overtook newsstand sales, and the magazine now has over 1.2 million Facebook fans. All this bodes very well for Liz’s plans to unveil both a print and digital redesign of the magazine next year where, she says, there will be even more opportunities for readers to share and engage with the magazine and with each other.

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Reader’s Digest to Increase Publishing Frequency

Reader’s Digest is upping its publishing frequency. Starting next year, there will be 12 issues of RD printed each year, up from 10 this year. Robert Guth, president and CEO of RDA, credited RD’s growing digital business with the increase.

“As digital becomes a driving force for our business, the economics are changing as well,” said Guth, in a statement. “Our digital issues are garnering unprecedented demand and readers have been vocal about their desire for new content on a more-frequent basis. The growing demand for Reader’s Digest is a tribute to our editorial team, led by Liz Vaccariello, who continues to guide the editorial direction of the publication in ways that resonate strongly with our reader.”

Ad pages for RD are also a factor, as they’ve increased by 30 percent since 2010.

Every Day with Rachael Ray Changes its Look

Every Day with Rachael Ray is getting an overhaul – both inside and out – starting with the May issue, which hits newsstands tomorrow. As for editorial, lifestyle and pop culture features will be expanded, and there will be a lot more recipes – 50 percent more -  in each issue. Cosmetically, the magazine has a bold new logo, fresh fonts and patterned pages.

The change is being spearheaded by Liz Vaccariello, the title’s relatively new Editor-in-Chief. She says the goal behind the redesign is to bring more of Rachael Ray’s personality to the pages.

“Rachael’s connection to her loyal fans is officially beyond the kitchen. What better way to celebrate than to provide our 1.7 million readers with this revitalized and highly interactive food and lifestyle experience?”

You’d think this would be a smart move, but Ray doesn’t seem to have the same brand power she once did. As Adweek points out, ever since Food Network Magazine launched in 2005, it has been beating out Ray’s title in sales and ad pages.

Add that to the fact that Ray’s TV audiences have been dwindling, and it’s time to start wondering just how much people care about the fiesty cook with a penchant for using fake – and let’s be honest here, annoying – words.

Additions to Every Day with Rachael Ray

Recently appointed Editor-in-Chief Liz Vaccariello has made some key hires to the staff at the Readers Digest Association publication. Jill Armus, who most recently worked alongside Vaccariello at Prevention as the Creative Director, will take on the same position at Every Day with Rachael Ray. Additionally, Vaccariello has tapped Ms. Heddy Sams Pierson as New York Advertising Director. Pierson was previously with Reader’s Digest as Associate Publisher.

Rachael Ray Finds New Editor-In-Chief For Every Day

In his Media Ink column for NYPost.com, Keith Kelly reports that Liz Vaccariello will fill the editor-in-chief post at Every Day with Rachael Ray.  Readers Digest Association’s North American affinities president Suzanne Grimes said Vaccariello edged out about 30 people for the position due to her solid relationship with Ray:

“They have nice chemistry on the air, she gets Rachael and her brand and she gets TV. We obviously wanted someone who was a great magazine editor who also had chemistry with Rachael.”
While Ray oversees her own brand by managing her daytime TV show and cookbook series,  Reader’s Digest Association supervises Every Day.  The magazine underwent some major staff changes this past summer when editor-in-chief Silvana Nardone and creative director Tracy Everding both resigned.  Nardone was at the helm during Ray’s rise to superstardom, however she apparently fell out of favor with Ray because of their lack of on-air chemistry.

Prevention Launches Column With The Doctors

preventionmarch.jpgRodale‘s Prevention magazine is taking its partnership with health talk show The Doctors one step further.

The magazine’s March issue, on newsstands this week, features the first installment of a monthly column featuring The Doctors‘ experts: E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork, OB/GYN Lisa Masterson, plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon and pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears. The column, called “Ask the Doctors,” will feature answers to real readers’ questions, as well as tips on how to “Live Like a Doc!”

Prevention and The Doctors launched a partnership in September, which included several guest appearances on the show for the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Liz Vaccariello, as well as a promotional program. Last month, the pair launched a search for one person’s inspirational story about adopting a healthier lifestyle, called America’s “Picture of Health.”

In addition to introducing this new column, Prevention‘s March issue is also a record-breaker. The issue saw advertising pages and revenue rise by 31 percent and 27 percent, respectively — making it one of the top five March issues in Prevention‘s 60-year history.

Read the full release about “Ask the Doctors” and America’s “Picture of Health” after the jump

Previously: Prevention Sees Ad Pages, Revenue Climb In March

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Prevention Features Michelle Obama As Pages Grow

prevention.jpgThe first lady will grace the cover of Prevention‘s upcoming November issue, on newsstands next week.

The issue features an exclusive interview with Michelle Obama, conducted by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Liz Vaccariello. Keeping in line with the focus on the magazine, the interview is talks about health, exercise and well-being, with Obama revealing her number one health rule: give yourself permission to be happy. She also discusses her workout routine (she’s added in more stretching to help keep her flexible), her favorite and least favorite exercises, her skin care regimen and what it’s been like living with her mom.

She also gushes about her husband, the president:

“One of the things that attracted me to Barack was his emotional honesty. Right off the bat he said what he felt. There are no games with him — he is who he appears to be. I feel fortunate as a woman to have a husband who loves me and shows me in every way.”

And in addition to snagging a hugely coveted cover model, Prevention is also boasting an increase in pages in its November issue. The issue closed at 95 pages, a 1.4 percent increase from last year, publisher Mary Murcko said. This growth is certain to increase after the magazine beefed up its sales team last month.

Related: Prevention Expands Sales Team

Rodale First Quarter Revenues Drop 23.3%

Picture 3.pngMen’s Health publisher Rodale announced its first quarter results today, revealing a 23.2% dip in revenues compared to the first quarter of last year.

Not surprisingly, Rodale’s president and CEO Steven Pleshette Murphy chalked the decrease up to an anemic ad market but pointed out that the company’s consumer products are still drawing readers.

“Most of our magazines are seeing year-over-year newsstand growth this quarter,” he said.

Even more good news: web sites for Men’s Health and Women’s Health set records for page views and unique visitors, respectively, during the first quarter of 2009.

Full release after the jump

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