• David Pecker's magazine empire may avoid bankruptcy after all. [NYP]
• The mood is expected to be bleak when Sundance kicks off next week. [WSJ]
• Discovery has signed Paula Zahn to create a weekly news show. [THR]
• An op-ed and podcast by Bono in the Times will debut on Sunday. [JR]
• Three more Politicker sites have been shuttered. [Jossip]
• The spring issue of Men's Vogue will be bound inside Vogue. [WWD]
• Katie Couric chats about feminism, Hillary, and the future of TV news. [CNP]
Is AMI going to go bankrupt? Nooooooooo! Do you know what that would mean: trouble for the new zombie version of Radar.com! Keith Kelly reports this morning that AMI, which publishes Star and the National Enquirer in addition to zombie Radar, missed a deadline on an interest payment and is "feverishly negotiating" with its lenders. How can you publish the National Enquirer in its finest year ever and still be coming up short of cash? We blame Bonnie Fuller, a little bit.
♦ Alan Colmes, the "liberal" who supposedly serves as co-host of Hannity & Colmes with Sean Hannity, is leaving the Fox News program at the end of the year. [HuffPo]
♦ A daily news program hosted by Christiane Amanpour is in the works at CNN. [NYT]
♦ Despite screwing up nearly everything he touches, NBC golden boy Ben Silverman may see his contract renewed in the next few weeks. [NYM]
♦ USA Today has announced plans to cut staff. [E&P]
♦ Twilight was No. 1 at the box office this weekend, raking in $70.5 mil. [LAT]
♦ Forbes is not being sold to a shady Russian billionaire. [SAI]
♦ Election returns may set TV viewing records tonight, assuming there's some "suspense." [AP]
♦ What's been on cable news channels all day? Mindless talk and speculation, for the most part. [TV Decoder]
♦ It's possible the networks will call the election before the polls close. [THR]
♦ Some of the high-tech wizardry in store tonight: CNN plans to feature 3D "holographic images" of the network's remote correspondents in its New York studio. [WSJ]
♦ More trouble for tabloid kingpin David Pecker: John Miller, AMI's chief operating officer, has resigned. [NYP]
Don't blame the Radar staff for those horrible celebrity gossip items going up on the site today. The entire staff has been locked out of the office since Friday afternoon. After the news the magazine would be folding was announced on Friday during an interminable meeting, an HR official came in to tell the staff at 1p.m. that they would need to empty their desks by 3p.m.Staffers were, of course, a bit disgruntled that they had just two hours to clear out their things, but the HR official made a little speech about how he had just lost his mother and learned in the process that stuff didn't matter nearly as much as the memories. Of course, employees looking to copy their email address books and collect their things may have disagreed. Said one unnamed ex-Radar staffer: "I'm not even sure he had a mother." But with the number of pink slips flying these days, we're sure there are worse layoff horror stories out there. Please send yours to email@example.com.
The new editor of RadarOnline.com—presumably replacing Alex Balk—will be David Perel. He's the current editor of the National Enquirer! So what does he do on the same day that AMI buys the website and everyone there gets laid off? He tells CoverAwards, “I have already been contacted today by some top entertainment and news journalists who want to be part of this new venture. I am looking forward to putting together a new team that is the best of the best. We are hiring now!” Uh, is it just me or is that an enormous prick move?
As rumored, AMI has bought the website RadarOnline.com, just as the print version of Radar folds. That, incongruously, puts the site under the same corporate umbrella as the celebrity mags Star and the National Enquirer, which may now become off-limits for mockery. The site will be "relaunched" in 2009. Judging from the tone of the press release alone, the site may well be repositioned to be far more credulous in its celebrity coverage, and consequently less funny. The effect on the RadarOnline staff is not clear yet; we'll fill in details as they come. Full press release from AMI below: American Media Inc. and Integrity Multimedia Company form joint venture to launch a new and enhanced RadarOnline web site
American Media, the publisher of Star and the National Enquirer, has come to an agreement with its creditors to "refinance" $570 million of its more than $1 billion in total debt. That's code for going to the people you owe money to and saying, "Funniest thing—I just can't pay you. Wanna change our deal a little bit? Or would you prefer I just declare bankruptcy and we both get screwed?" As savvy financial types like to say, if you owe the bank $1 million, they own you; if you owe the bank $1 billion, you own them. Although AMI squandered millions needlessly on things like, you know, the services of Bonnie Fuller, the Enquirer's upsurge from the John Edwards scoop may be just the thing to push them back towards profitability. If they can figure out how to sell some extra ads on it, that is. AMI's ad sales were down slightly in the first half, though not as much as the rest of the industry. So chin up. Remember, down is the new flat! [WSJ]
Bonnie Fuller was axed last month from her job as editorial chief of American Media. But the company gave her $2.4 million in fiscal year 08, which is 50% more than even CEO David Pecker got. And AMI, which is facing some serious financial challenges of its own, was planning a $2 million severance package for her if she left by the end of March (since she didn't, they haven't revealed her actual severance—but it's surely in that ballpark). Fuller's rich, but she's still a well-known neurotic about money issues, dating back to her own mother's rough period of being broke after a divorce. Understandable—but it doesn't really give one the right to start yelling at the good people from the freaking Make-A-Wish foundation, as Fuller once famously did when she thought they were being too stingy:
Slate's Mickey Kaus thinks that supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle's scheme to Source Interlink (he is the majority shareholder, and by the way, that stock is so deep in the toilet) with American Media Inc. gives the Clintons control of that company's tabloids. But we hear this weird rumor that Conde Nast will make a play for Burkle's company while it's dirt cheap, heading off the deal with American Media.
Once again, American Media Inc., publisher of Star, the National Enquirer and Men's Fitness, filed its financial statement with the S.E.C. well past the due date. And we can understand why: The company is hemorrhaging money. Is there some way they could cut costs to help the bottom line? Well, maybe they could reduce the amount they shell out on Chief Editorial Director Bonnie Fuller's beauty treatments.