Pop Culture

Nicole Richie cover outselling Aguilera’s

Nicole Richie didn’t just beat rival Christina Aguilera to the delivery room by having daughter Harlow on Jan. 11, one day before Aguilera gave birth to son Max, but it appears Richie will beat Aguilera on the newsstand as well.

Both new moms each had their own cover of People magazine, and according to some early estimates, the issue featuring Richie is on target to sell more than 1.8 million copies, according to an industry source, whereas Aguilera's has sold far less. (People magazine could not confirm sales numbers; a spokesperson said its too soon to know how many copies were sold.)

Why does there seem to be more interest in Harlow Winter Kate Madden? One magazine insider said part of it could come down to the moms’ fan bases. “Christina historically doesn’t do that well on covers,” said the source, who cites poor sales of her wedding photo issue in OK!, and less-than-stellar sales of her nude photo shoot in the January 2008 Marie Claire.

That might be true, but Nicole Richie doesn’t seem like an obvious home run on the cover, either. “There’s also a greater element of curiosity with Nicole,” the source conceded. “She’s gone public about being a heroin addict. Her boyfriend is covered in tattoos. By default, she’s got the more interesting baby. People want to see how she settles down. They want to see what kind of baby someone with her background has.”

Jessica Simpson’s exes converge
Jessica Simpson wasn’t in attendance at Cosmopolitan’s Fun and Fearless Man Awards held March 3 in New York, but she wasn’t far from any of the honorees’ hearts, which included her boyfriend Tony Romo, ex-boyfriend John Mayer and once-rumored beau Dane Cook.

Romo broke the ice by accepting his award and saying, “Along the red carpet I was asked about 20 times what makes a fun and fearless male, and I didn’t really have an answer, but then I got to thinking … Dane Cook … John Mayer … If you dig Jessica Simpson, I guess you get to do this.”

Not to be outdone, another honoree, rapper Common, accepted his award saying, “Thank you for this award. I haven’t hooked up with Jessica Simpson, but I still earned it.”

Later in the event, Myspace.com founder Tom Anderson added, “I may have a chance with Jessica now, too.” (On a more serious note, Anderson revealed that MySpace is arranging a concert series with Simpson in Kuwait for U.S. Troops stationed there).

John Mayer and Dane Cook didn’t get their say, but Cook did joke on the red carpet that he was dating Mayer. When asked about it, Mayer confirmed, “Yes, but we’ve broken up since he said that — he just texted me to end it.”

Jack Nicholson’s Clinton endorsement: Does it matter?
The two Hollywood heavies behind the conception and creation of the Jack Nicholson best-of clip job that serves as the actor’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton probably never imagined that the video would be viewed by more than a million people and be broadcast on the airwaves of nearly every major news outlet.

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Since the video is fun for any Nicholson fan to watch regardless of one’s political preference, the video makes the case that a clever celebrity endorsement can definitely have a wide reach. However, it’s also raised (or perhaps, re-raised) the question: Does a celebrity endorsement really matter?

In an era where celebrities’ lives are so public, does a revelation about their favored candidate pack much punch? With any given A-lister, it’s possible to know what the inside of their home looks like, when they last had dinner at The Ivy and where they last vacationed. What’s one more detail about their life?

The yin to this celebrity-media yang can be found in Barack Obama’s less viral, less splashy but slightly more interesting cooperation with Us Weekly magazine.

Obama, who has also had his share of celeb video endorsements, cooperated with the magazine for a “Just Like Us” feature that showed Obama in a light usually reserved for Hollywood celebrities. The photo-driven feature showed Obama doing everyday things that voters can relate to, and even included a “bonus” photo of Obama, “Before Barack was famous,” at the age of 2 1/2 or 3, riding what “might have been my first tricycle,” according to a caption penned for Us by Obama. (It’s worth noting that Jann Wenner, who owns Us, has contributed to the Obama campaign).

To be fair, Clinton hasn't missed out on this opportunity: She previously took the celebrity seat at Us and poked fun at some of her more dubious fashion choices through the years. Who hasn't worn something they regret? Certainly Sen. Clinton has made some mistakes, and she's not afraid to point them out.

But why do it? “It's a smart strategy on the candidates’ part,” said a source close to Us. “It gives them a forum to show off their lighter side, and maybe reach a more targeted audience of young women. You have to wonder about whether a video will go viral, (in a magazine) you know who you're reaching.”

US competitors People and OK! haven't missed out on election coverage, either. OK! reached out to women and younger voters by dedicating a fashion spread to Michelle Obama, who according to the piece bears a style likeness to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. People magazine kept to a more traditional path and in February ran an interview with Obama, in January ran a feature with Clinton, and in December profiled John McCain.

So what will have a greater impact: political celebrities or celebrity politicians? Since the question isn't exactly part of exit polling procedures, we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the answer, but one thing is clear—celebrity magazines definitely matter this election year.

Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com.

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