TVNewser FishbowlDC AgencySpy TVSpy LostRemote PRNewser SocialTimes AllFacebook 10,000 Words GalleyCat UnBeige MediaJobsDaily

Posts Tagged ‘Tom Freston’

George Lucas and Joan Hamburg’s Next Act I David Zaslav at The Mirror Awards

LunchAtMichaelsOur weekly lunches at Michael’s always deliver plenty of star power and today was no exception. When I arrived a little before noon, I was followed in the door by none other than George Lucas, who, I’m told, happened to be walking by the restaurant yesterday with his new baby daughter and her nanny in tow when he inquired if there might be a way to “squeeze him in” today. I kid you not. He’s always seemed incredibly low key on his many visits to 55th and Fifth any time I’ve seen him here. Today, the multiple Academy Award winner showed up casually clad in his signature look: a sport short, jeans and sneakers and headed right for his table, forsaking the glad handing that is favored by his fellow West Coast brethren. Despite being the first one there, he was one of the last to leave, spending the entire time deep in conversation with an elegant white-haired lady we didn’t recognize. Talking about the joys of fatherhood, perhaps?

George Lucas with a friend at Michael's

George Lucas with a friend at Michael’s

The room filled up quickly with plenty of familiar faces, including social types and publishing big wigs (Kerry Kennedy, Jay FieldenJay McInerney, Jack Kliger) as well as a fair number of fashionable folks (Joe Zee, Tomas Maier, Fern Mallis). Unfortunately my date was under the weather, so after I made my rounds I hightailed it over to Cipriani 42nd Street, where there were plenty of Michael’s regulars on hand to salute Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav, who was honored with the Fred Dressler Leadership Award at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University’s Mirror Awards. In attendance: Gayle King (mistress of ceremonies), Discovery ID’s Henry Scleiff and Tom Freston, who came back from a trip to Afghanistan so he could present the award to his longtime pal “The Zas.” Tom affectionately called David “a colorful cowboy” and reminisced of David’s earliest days in cable when he “kicked some ass!”

Read more

Mediabistro Course

Travel Writing

Travel WritingStarting September 23, learn how to turn your travel stories into published essays and articles! Taught by a former Vanity Fair staff writer, James Sturz will teach you how to report, interview, and find sources, discover story ideas and pitch them successfully, and understand what travel editors look for in a story. Register now! 

Forbes Pegs Shane Smith’s Net Worth at $400 Million

And assuming Jeff Bercovici’s calculations are correct, that puts the VICE co-founder way ahead of Tumblr wunderkind David Karp.

It all adds up to an amazing Canadian rags to U.S. riches story:

A bootstrapped indie magazine from Montreal that for years had no outside investors, VICE is now based in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, makes most of its $175 million in annual revenues from online video and event sponsorships, and is backed by Fox, WPP, the Raine Group and former Viacom CEO Tom Freston. But VICE’s senior management still holds about 75% of the equity. Of that, Smith, who was one of three co-founders, controls the largest chunk.

Bercovici revisits his December 2011 profile of Smith. A piece of advice the brash globetrotter received from director Spike Jonze resonates even more loudly two years later.

Read more

Tom Freston, Shane Smith Talk About Their Billion-Dollar VICE Enterprise

Right off the THR print magazine Q&A bat, VICE founder Shane Smith and his main backer Tom Freston spin a very enviable privately owned narrative. Smith tells senior writer Eriq Gardner that the multi-media guerilla operation currently has 1,250 full-time employees/4,000 contributors in 34 different countries, while Freston boasts that VICE is already on an audience-engagement par with MTV, SNL and Rolling Stone magazine.

We’re not sure about that last part, but there’s no denying that with VICE’s HBO documentary series debuting tonight at 11 p.m. and featuring a first episode that was cleverly shared earlier this week on YouTube, VICE’s bodacious brand will only be further enhanced. It can also be argued that nothing recently compares to the free-publicity juggernaut VICE triggered by taking Dennis Rodman and three Harlem Globetrotters to North Korea.

In a separate Web-only Q&A with Erin Carlson, Smith clarifies that VICE did not smuggle the basketball players into the DPRK and says the ensuing media circus was actually cause for great concern:

We were really worried… Rodman was only there for two days and we were there for 10 days and our team was on the ground shooting. And we know how crazy the North Koreans are and how easily they’ll sort of put someone away so we were very nervous.

Read more

Tom Freston Wants No Part of Time Inc.

Apparently some at Time Inc. had been holding out hope that MTV founder Tom Freston would be the publishing company’s next CEO. Freston however, isn’t interested.

“I may finally have it ‘right’ for myself, have never been happier, and would sure regret abandoning this stage of my career,” he wrote in an email to the New York Post. “Someone will have fun in that new Time Inc. role… but I am staying put.”

It’s not surprising that Freston — currently an advisor for Vice Media Group and a board member on Bono’s ONE charity — turned down the job of directing a company that will start with almost one billion in debt. But hey, at least he was nice about it.

Barbara Walters, Joe Kernen and One Republican’s Response to the Debate

1003_mockup.gifAfter last week’s head-spinning scene where real-life democrats took campaign advice from fictional politicians (Chris Noth, you’ve got my vote), I thought I’d pretty much covered the landscape of presidential politics among the Wednesday Michael’s crowd. Nothing doing. Before I could settle in for my lunch with PR maven Leslie Stevens and cosmetics entrepreneur Patti Pao, CNBC’s Joe Kernen called me over to meet Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin who was on the air with Joe earlier today deconstructing last night’s debates (We suggest a whip and a chair for the moderator of next week’s match-up) and is scheduled to appear on Sean Hannity‘s broadcast on Fox this evening.

The guys told me they were looking for “equal time,” since last week’s column was all about the democratic point of view. I’m always happy to chat with Joe whose fabulously smart 12-year-old daughter, Blake Kernen is one of my favorite young writers.  Not surprisingly, Senator Johnson told me he thought Mitt Romney won the debate hands down. “He shattered the caricature (the Obama campaign) has been pushing. It’s hard to paint that picture when (Romney) came out so strong and showed such a command of the issues. He  offered the specifics that Obama did not. Last night did nothing to stop the momentum (Romney) has been gathering.” He also called out the president for being “purposely misleading” on Libya.  While the senator admitted the president was “a little more energetic” he concluded, “He’s got nothing.”

Senator Johnson, who predicts it’s going to be a ”close election,” says Vice President Joe Biden‘s “rude” performance during his debate with Representative Paul Ryan had a lingering negative effect on the president’s favorable ratings and pointed to CNN’s recent poll which showed most viewers gave last night’s segment on the economy to Romney as an indication that the republican challenger is winning on the issue voters care most about. “In both debates, Romney showed that he can work with the other side. Americans have to ask themselves, ‘Do we want four more years of gridlock and a president who doesn’t know how to lead?”

Leslie Stevens, David Patrick Columbia, Patti Pao and Diane Clehane

Things lightened up considerably when I joined Leslie and Patti at our table to talk about the launch of Patti’s new skincare line Restorsea, which debuted at Bergdorf Goodman on Monday. Smart, savvy and absolutely passionate about skincare, Patti has built an impressive track record in the beauty business with stints at Avon and Elizabeth Arden. The Harvard Business School graduate introduced glycolic acid to the beauty industry and made Avon’s Anew the industry standard that is today.

She has continued to search out the latest innovations for the luxury market in her own consulting firm Pao Principle which she launched in 2005. Utilizing her deep ties to China, Patti created a survey asking 353 billionaires in the country (yes, you read that right) questions relating to handbags and fine jewelry. Doing so created a much sought after database when the survey findings made The New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, Forbes and Fortune. That stroke of marketing genius branded her LVMH’s luxury expert, and she picked up three clients in Norway which turned out to be a fateful turn of events.

Read more

Tom Freston Sponsors Two More Afghan Film Students

As noted in a recent “Media Decoder” item, former MTV and Viacom head honcho Tom Freston’s current efforts at USC Cinema School are not the first time he has been involved with Afghanistan. But already, the summer intensive is on track to be more successful than his late 1970s clothing company.

Two students were trained in 2011 and another pair are due to arrive on campus shortly for seven weeks of training overseen by program head David Weitzner (pictured). From Michael Cieply‘s report:

Kept under wraps until now because of security concerns, the program, entering its second year, enrolls two Afghan students annually for a crash course in the cinema school’s summer program.

Read more

Charlie Rose, Star Jones, Joe Kernan and Jack Welch Hold Court

1003_mockup.gifI could just tell the power lunch crowd was (mostly) all business today. The noise level was considerably lower than in past weeks — who needs your neighbor to learn about your next big move before it hits “Page Six”? — and the table hopping was kept to a minimum. It was a tasty mix of moguls (Tom Freston), talking heads (Joe Kernan, Star Jones) and EICs (Amy Astley, Jay Fielden) who kept things interesting.

Speaking of magazines on the move (onward and upward in this case), I was joined today by formidable foodies at the helm of Food Network Magazine, a joint venture of Hearst Magazines and Food Network. Editor Maile Carpenter and publisher/chief revenue officer Vicki Wellington have happened on a recipe for success: Give Food Network fans what they love in print form and — viola! — you’ve got a hit on your hands. Both women were part of the magazine’s launch in 2009 and have seen it rack up a string of accolades, including being named to Adweek’s ‘Hot List’  and Advertising Age’s ‘A List’ last year. “A lot of people told us we were crazy to launch a magazine when we did,” Vicki says of the 2008 prototype, but the numbers silenced the naysayers. The rate base rose from 400,000, to 600,00, to 900,000 in no time and hit 1 million in just four months. The magazine’s ad pages are up 14 percent year to date, and the July-August issue is their biggest ever, with 129 ad pages.

Vicki Wellington, Diane Clehane and Maile Carpenter
Vicki Wellington, Diane Clehane and Maile Carpenter

What’s the secret ingredient? “People watch Food Network 24/7,” Maile told me. “We found that we didn’t have to choose between being accessible and aspirational. The people who love the television shows told us, ‘Be everything!’ and we have. Every month, we have an incredible pool of talent to pull from, and we try to mix it up and give readers a lot of variety.”

Here’s an interesting tidbit lest you think all the pub has to do is call the network’s powers that be to access its squadron of stars: The talent “is not contractually obligated” to appear in the magazine, says Maile. But since its heavy hitters like Guy Fieri (the first Food Network A-lister to see the prototype), Sandra Lee and Alton Brown all love the book, there’s never any shortage of stars to grace its pages. It’s no surprise that recipes (all concocted in the network’s Manhattan kitchens) are a reader favorite. Because there’s such a hunger for them (sorry, that’s my last food pun!), the pub has a new book out, 1000 Easy Recipes: Super Fun Food for Every Day that’s sure to satisfy the busy cook. (There’s 44 different pancake recipes and 100 salads!)

The magazine also gives fans another way to connect with their favorite TV destination with its popular Food Network Lounges where readers meet on-air personalities and sample their cool concoctions in a chic setting. The line was out the door at the last event in Chicago where Anne Burrell met the masses at Jose Garces‘ restaurant. Another Lounge is planned for October in New York to kick off the Food & Wine Festival. And, since food is such a family affair these days, Maile and Vicki have cooked up (okay, last one) a special insert for the September issue, Food Network Kids, as a third cover to be filled with family-friendly recipes and activities for budding foodies to try with mom and dad. Get those cupcake pans ready now!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

Read more

Moguls on the Menu: Brian Grazer, Tom Freston and Isaac Mizrahi

1003_mockup.gifWe missed LL Cool J by a day. Oh, well. That’s the great thing about Michael’s: If it’s Wednesday, you can pretty much count on an interesting scene.

Today, there was plenty of tasty people watching. On the menu: Brian Grazer and Tom Preston (together!), one of our favorite designers (Isaac Mizrahi, who, we’re happy to report, wasn’t wearing those unfortunate sandals he chose for a recent appearance on QVC) and, just for good measure, a random reality star (Ramona Singer who, was no doubt dishing the dirt on the newest Housewives to join the New York City catfight. This season’s previews look downright scary!)

I was joined today by EIC Dara Caponigro and publisher Jennifer Levene Bruno, the dynamic duo at the helm of  Veranda, a magazine devoted to showcasing the homes, gardens and passions (by which we mean plenty of jewelry) of the moneyed but genteel set. The typical reader’s median household income is $149,000. Veranda isn’t a magazine to flip through while you’re in the elevator on the way to your apartment, but is best enjoyed sitting in your living room sipping a glass of wine. Get the picture?

This year marks the magazine’s 25th anniversary, and Dara just celebrated her second year at the helm, having assumed the title from founding editor Lisa Newsom, whose new book The Houses of Veranda is a stunning coffee table tome. Dara, formerly a founding editor of Domino (another one of our favorites!) told me she had long been an  admirer of Veranda‘s “gracious tone” and wanted to continue with the magazine’s mission to “make Veranda about living well through the lens of home.” Since taking the top spot on the masthead, she’s expanded the book’s jewelry coverage (“Our readers are collectors”) and “beefed up the front of the book.” I told her I loved the “Personal Luxuries” column where style makers from around the country share their lists of must-haves from perfume to pillows. “That’s one of our most popular features,” said Dara whose love of gracious living was something she inherited from her mother who was a decorator.

Jennifer, who is only the magazine’s second publisher, is equally enthusiastic about the book. “Everything in the magazine is carefully curated,” she told me. Advertisers obviously like what they see. In Jennifer’s first full year with Veranda, ad pages were up 17% with over 95 new brands.

Michael McGraw, Dara Caponigro, Diane Clehane and Jennifer Levene Bruno
L to R: Michael McGraw, Dara Caponigro, Diane Clehane and Jennifer Levene Bruno

Dara and Jennifer have been working as a team for about 18 months. “[Hearst president of marketing & publishing director] Michael Clinton knew what he was doing,” said Dara. The duo spends a lot of time traveling around the country hosting panels with industry leaders and talking to readers.

Some of their stops this year have included Atlanta (“The women in the south love dishes!” said Dara) and Los Angeles, where they hosted a ‘Bucket List’ panel on decorating with celebrated designers, including Mary McDonald of Bravo’s Million Dollar Decorators. Their winning formula is obviously working. Published six times a year,  newsstand sales are up 7 percent and, says Jennifer, 35 percent of the ad pages year-to-date through July-August are ”new business.” See, gracious living does pay.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

Read more

Vice Keeps Going..This Time into China

While some media companies are scratching their heads trying to find ways to become profitable and cut costs, (usually by laying people off), Vice is doing the opposite: enjoying an estimated value of $1 billion (with $100 million in revenue) and looking to expand into China.

A recent Forbes story details the company’s rapid ascend and ambitious moves. What started out as a free magazine based in Montreal has transformed into a global media empire that chronicles hipster and youth culture, is headquartered in Brooklyn and employs 800 people in 34 countries. Interestingly enough, as Forbes suggests, it was web video content — the creative, ahead-of-the-curve type — that helped to set Vice apart from, well, your traditional media companies.

With that kind of foresight, China seems doable, especially with recent investment backing.

However, the big question remains. Will Vice’s somewhat, uh, racy content mesh with Chinese conservatism?

Read more

Time Inc. Rumors Kick Up Four Names

Back in July, Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes said that the new CEO of Time Inc. would be an outsider, and as time goes by, it looks like he’s keeping that promise. There is nothing concrete yet, but Adweek says that Bewkes is considering four people to take over the magazine powerhouse.

Let’s review the gossip. The first name being mentioned is Wenda Millard, Co-Owner, President, and CEO of MediaLink. Millard decided not to comment on the speculation, meaning people will only speculate more. Tom Freston is another candidate. But he runs Bono’s charity, and everyone knows you don’t walk away from Mr. Sunglasses, so Freston is probably a long shot. A third person being considered for Time Inc.’s CEO spot is Richard Zannino, a man who once ran Dow Jones & Company. He too shot down a request for comment by Adweek, so keep him in mind.

Read more

NEXT PAGE >>