American Pie 21.11.02

This is the time of year when magazine editors often put Jesus on their covers. In the past, magazines such as Time and Newsweek have found Jesus and religion to be big sellers, especially at Christmas. But there are two unusual entrants this year: Popular Mechanics and Wired. Both have just hit the news-stands here, the former with a shadowy figure crowned with thorns, the latter with a crucifix collage. The main feature in Popular Mechanics is about how forensic anthropology can determine what a person long dead looked like. It’s likely that both will cause controversy, and probably offend some readers, as the Discovery Channel learned recently when it portrayed Jesus looking like a New York cabbie.


Soon there may be more celebrity magazines at the supermarket check-outs than brands of chewing gum. Perhaps encouraged by the success of US magazine, and its new rival In Touch, (and possibly the success of its recent British acquisition Now), Time Inc is considering launching yet another celebrity magazine, even though it already publishes People, the biggest seller of all. It has put Carol Wallace, a former managing editor of People, to work on a prototype. No name yet, but James Seymour, former managing editor of Entertainment Weekly, is being tipped to become editor

New York building tycoon Donald Trump is going into publishing – again. He is lending his name to a new quarterly publication, Trump World. It is described as a magazine of luxury lifestyle. Once before, he tried his hand with Trump Style, which didn’t last long. This time he is guaranteeing a level of circulation by giving 50,000 copies away to guests at his hotels, country clubs and casinos and mailing another 50,000 to his friends and customers.


There has been a flurry of law suits against the top supermarket tabloid. Jane Fonda is suing the National Enquirer for running a picture of a swollen-eyed woman it claimed was her, having undergone a face-lift in the hope of winning back her ex-husband, TV tycoon Ted Turner. TV show hostess Sally Jessy Raphael is demanding $200m (£127m) damages after the Enquirer said she suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalised after her show was axed.


How much did last year’s terror attacks change local television coverage in the US? Not much, according to a new survey. The proportion of foreign stories more than doubled, from 4 per cent to 9 per cent. But almost all were "cut and paste" stories from foreign sources. There was as much coverage about missing children as anti-terror precautions. The rest of the mix didn’t change much. Crime dominated, with 25 per cent; human interest came second with 10 per cent; politics was down from 10 per cent to 9 per cent, and social problems fell from 9 to 8 per cent. A study of 53 stations across the US showed two-thirds of all stories ran for a minute or less.

 Quote of the Week: "The British media are the most savage in the world. The newspapers will be your best friend today and your worst enemy tomorrow. It’s all what sells papers." London showbiz publicist Max Clifford, quoted in The Philadelphia Enquirer in a story about British Press coverage of the current royal scandals, headlined "Bold, Nasty and Desperate for Every Reader".

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