Stephen Colbert, I hope you’re ready. It really is up to you, fake newsman, to save the print edition of Newsweek magazine.
Two weeks after the magazine’s redesign, Colbert has been asked to become the first guest editor in Newsweek’s 76-year history. He’ll oversee the June 8 issue, because, according to The Observer, editor Jon Meacham was “impressed with the range of (Colbert’s) knowledge,” and “as we think of ways to both inform and surprise readers of the magazine, the notion of having him as a guest editor seemed like a good one.”
(Msnbc.com is a content partner of Newsweek.)
It is a good one, but the truthiness of the matter is that Colbert is Newsweek’s last best hope for breathing some life into the print product. Newsweek has tried boosting sales with a redesign, and that isn’t working. The New York Post’s Keith Kelly reports that the first redesigned issue, which had an exclusive interview with Barack Obama, sold about 2,550 copies at Barnes & Noble stores nationwide, which makes it the third-worst selling cover of the year.
Newsweek's vice-president of communications, Frank J. De Maria, denies that the Obama issue was the magazine's third-worst selling issue of the year.
This week, the cover features Oprah Winfrey and a very gutsy story about her guests with questionable medical theories (Jenny McCarthy, Suzanne Somers). I predict this cover won't sell either because the fan base that supports her is too big, too loyal and won’t turn on her.
Newsweek has some of the best reporting and textured voices in all of journalism. But the magazine is also an example of how critical it is for print outlets to change their thinking and create a product people want to pay for at the newsstand. Hopefully, Colbert’s up to the challenge — but he can’t do it every week.
“Colbert's audience, like Newsweek’s, is smart and informed, and Stephen Colbert is passionate about Iraq, the subject of this issue,” De Maria said. “So having him guest-edit the magazine is not desperate, but in our view, innovative.”
Adam Lambert already making enemies
While much of the chatter surrounding “American Idol” runner-up Adam Lambert has to do with speculation about his sexuality, the behind-the-scenes talk at many of the stops along Lambert’s publicity tour is how difficult he is to work with.
“He is such a diva. Rude to everyone — from fans right down to the lighting folks,” said one person who worked with Lambert.
Slideshow: The many looks of Adam Lambert “A-list celebrities have come through here and been infinitely more polite,” said another person who worked with Lambert during a stop in New York.
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Lambert should change his attitude quickly, according to one music producer. “No one sells that many records these days to be able to get away with that kind of behavior. To be a success you need literally everyone in your corner.”
Gisele makes stepson ‘feel best’
Supermodel Gisele Bündchen was criticized when she referred to her stepson as “100 percent” hers in Vanity Fair (he’s the son of Bündchen husband Tom Brady and actress Bridget Moynahan).
Now, a friend of Bündchen’s is sticking up for the model.
“We are Brazilian and embrace everyone,” Alessandra Ambrosio told Us Weekly. “It’s not her son, but she will make him feel the best. Brazilians love family.”
Keeping tabs: Jon & Kate, please abate
For the sixth consecutive week, Us Weekly devotes its cover to Jon and Kate Gosselin. It pains me to report that In Touch, Star and People also dedicate their covers to the “Jon & Kate Plus 8” frenzy. That said, I’m giving this week’s Keeping Tabs cover award to People.
At this point, one has better odds of milking a goat than getting a fresh story out of the Gosselins. People comes closest with their “Enough is Enough: Jon Gosselin talks to People” cover.
Inside the magazine, Jon argues that his children are not exploited . That’s going to be a tough sell for Jon, but an easy one for People.
And as an aside, OK! magazine seems to be abandoning their “we want to look like Elle” experiment. The weekly sold only 220,000 copies with its confounding and irrelevant Ashley Tisdale cover last week.
This week they inch toward timely with a Robert Pattinson “exclusive” on the cover — only it’s the identical cover image that Life & Style uses; so regardless of what’s inside, the “exclusive” doesn’t seem so convincing.
Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com. Follow Scoop on Twitter: @ courtneyatmsnbc.
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