Initially, the big celebrity news this week was Clay Aiken’s coming out story, published exclusively in People magazine.
While Aiken's announcement was interesting in and of itself, more compelling is the backstory behind the People deal. Apparently, the economy isn’t just having an impact on Wall Street — it's affecting the celebrity magazine world, too.
Exclusive photos of Clay and his son, Parker, went for an underwhelming amount compared to the multimillion-dollar price tag that accompanies a Jennifer Lopez or Jolie-Pitt agreement. Aiken’s deal cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000 according to several sources privy to the negotiations (a rep for People said “We don’t comment on the specifics of any deals”).
The low dollar amount wasn’t necessarily due to waning interest in Aiken — one editor admitted that his magazine had been trying to get the singer to do a tell-all for a substantial sum long before the baby was in the picture. Instead, People had little competition for the photos, and in turn, no one to drive the price up.
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“Gone are the days when any celebrity gets millions of dollars for their photos,” says one magazine editor. “Economically, it doesn’t make sense, and there is only so long that you can keep saying ‘It’s good for the brand.’ People is the magazine that’s most well-off, that has the finances right now to take on these exclusives.”
OK! magazine’s Brian Strong confirmed that the weekly mag did participate in negotiations for the photos. Us Weekly, who in the past has bid on photos of Brad and Angelina, among others, was not part of the Aiken bidding, and neither were Life & Style or In Touch.
Celebrity-baby magazine coversOK! is said to be watching its finances a little more closely, especially now that it’s hired a new general manager, Kent Brownridge. But Strong says the economy hasn't priced OK! out of the exclusives game. “The magazine is absolutely not changing its attitude toward big exclusives," Strong says. "When there's a big story out there, the magazine will continue to compete at a high level.”
Compete they might, but consumers are feeling the economic crunch as well. With some exceptions, shelling out the cash at the grocery-store cash register isn’t a priority when times are tough.
“Sure, everyone is curious to see Matthew McConaughey and his baby, but is it worth it?" says the editor. "For millions of dollars and only a small bump in sales, it isn’t worth it for the magazine, and when the economy is the mess it is now, it makes more sense to look at the pictures (while) waiting in line instead of buying the thing.”
No talks between Clooney and ‘ER’
The is-he-or-isn’t-he coming back to “ER” debate circulating around George Clooney appears to be a moot point.
Clooney’s rep Stan Rosenfeld issued the following statement on behalf of his client on Sept. 23: “I've never been asked or approached by anyone from the show about doing an episode of 'ER.'”
Would Clooney return to the show if asked? Rosenfeld would only say, "George is very close friends with the 'ER' people and will cross that bridge at the appropriate time."
Reese Witherspoon wants Vince Vaughn to grow up
The press tour for “Four Christmases,” the new comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn, could be a long one, according to reports from OK! magazine.
Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings According to a friend of Witherspoon’s, the actress reportedly feels Vaughn is “the biggest child I’ve ever met.”
“Promoting a movie involves long hours, and she’ll have to spend a lot of time with someone who gets under her skin,” the pal tells OK!
Reports of tension emerged from their film set late last year.
The magazine recalls an interview in which Witherspoon reported “I said to (Vaughn) one day, ‘People can’t talk as fast as you think.’ You can’t keep up with him.”
Cameron Diaz’s beau has sights set on film
Cameron Diaz's boyfriend, British model Paul Sculfor, is breaking into the acting business.
Us Weekly is reporting that Sculfor recently read for a part in a romantic comedy, but he didn’t get any pointers from his girlfriend.
"We don't speak about that," he told the magazine.
In the meantime, Sculfor will continue modeling, but he’s got his limits. "I've got good legs, actually, but I'm too old to do underwear now,” he told Us. "I'll leave that for David Beckham. He's got a better body than me. But everything is fantastic. I'm a happy lad right now."
Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com.
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