"We are going to be their friend!"

Fret not, pretty celebrity -- Jann Wenner will comfort you

By Bill Wyman
September 27, 1999 1:30PM (UTC)
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If there's one thing that bugs me, it's the way the media treats celebrities. Self-respecting stars can barely crack a magazine or surf a cable lineup these days without seeing themselves attacked bitterly and without cause. There are the exposis, the "behind-the-scenes" reports. Personal details are bruited about the tabloids; the minutiae of private business negotiations are eagerly stolen and sold on an information black market to be spray-painted across the public consciousness. Many mass media outlets have even been known to try to write about stars completely independently of their having current product to promote -- a complete waste of human and journalistic resources.

Today, however, I feel better, because I just got done reading the New York Times' business section. In it I found two causes for hope.


The first was a little blurb about a new publication in Southern California. Channel Los Angeles, set to debut next month, will compete with Los Angles magazine. "To distinguish itself," the Times reported, "Channel is taking an approach that makes the soft-focus Los
Angeles seem hard-boiled." There will be lots of celebrity sightings and feature articles about how celebrities accessorize their dogs. "What Channel won't be doing is nasty exposi stories," said exec editor Sue Cameron.

Better news even than that came in a front-page report on Jann Wenner's big new plans. Wenner has published many magazines, but now has only three: Rolling Stone, Men's Journal and Us. That last is a celeb-driven monthly, a poor cousin to People. His current gambit: taking the monthly weekly, and attacking People head on. His strategy, revealed in the article, is essentially the same as Channel's: He's going to beat the craven, lapdog weekly at its own game. "We will be nice to celebrities," Wenner says. "Famous people hate being in People."

His general manager, Kent Browridge, chimes in: "Celebrities are going to like Us Weekly. It is going to be their friend."


So don't fret, pretty, forlorn celebrities. We live in dark times, but there is a dawn on the horizon. Jann Wenner and Sue Cameron feel your pain.

Bill Wyman

Bill Wyman is the former arts editor of Salon and National Public Radio.

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