Someone tell James Earl Jones to clear his voice and start practicing: “This is … The New York Times !”
According to a source at The Times, the newspaper is in discussions with CNN to do a regular Times -branded feature on the cable network’s upcoming prime-time news show, hosted by anchor Aaron Brown.
Television is considered a big deal in the Arthur Sulzberger Jr.-era Times . The paper has long been making noise about launching a nightly PBS news program with MacNeil-Lehrer Productions, but that costly project is on hold until they round up enough corporate sponsors to fund it. In the past, The Times has collaborated with PBS’s Frontline as well as ABC News, and it once came close to partnering with MSNBC; locally, The Times works with NY1 to produce a round-table discussion show.
The CNN-partnership plans would be much more limited, The Times source said: a segment where stories from the next day’s Times would be previewed. It is unclear whether Times staffers would be used in any on-air role.
Spokespeople for The Times and CNN refused to confirm whether the two organizations were in talks.
” The New York Times is in discussions with a number of television organizations on a number of opportunities,” said a Times spokesman.
“We are exploring a number of features with Aaron Brown, and given that the program is still in development, it would be premature to discuss any of the details,” said a CNN spokeswoman.
But it’s no secret that CNN’s new head, Walter Isaacson, is using his connections to pursue partnerships and gin up some excitement at his new workplace. On Aug. 7, the Los Angeles Times reported that CNN was in talks with ABC News about entering a broad partnership. The paper noted that Mr. Isaacson is friends with ABC News president David Westin and that both live in Bronxville, N.Y.
And hey, Mr. Isaacson has ties to Mr. Sulzberger as well: The two men once went Outward Bound together, as adults.
Over at The Times, however, the plans to plug the paper on CNN were seen as a bit diminutive.
“We did fantasize about buying ABC News at one point,” said one staffer.
‘As a magazine editor,” said Susan Casey, the new managingeditorof SportsIllustrated Women , “you have to have the team around you to get the job done.”
But first, Ms. Casey is tinkering with her team. Since taking over SIW , Ms. Casey–the former Time Inc. editor-at-large who led Outside magazine to three National Magazine Awards in the 1990’s–has changed the magazine’s title (previously it was Sports Illustrated for Women ), sent several staffers packing back to good ol’ SI and sent nine staffers packing, period.
“They scorched the earth,” said one SI source.
Six of the firings at SIW came on one day, as the magazine was still closing its July/August issue. Among them was Mary Bolster, the magazine’s transitional editor, who was put into place after the previous managing editor, Sandy Bailey, announced she was leaving in April.
“It was pretty much like they could stay and finish it out, or they could leave,” one SI source said of the mid-close canning.
Ms. Casey, for her part, confirmed the firings, calling their timing a “non-event.”
“At what point was I supposed to do it?” Ms. Casey said.
While describing the magazine’s former staff as a “very talented group of people,” Ms. Casey said: “They were a bit on the young side. I needed people who were real magazine-makers. I needed people with Rolodexes who can move fast.”
In their place, Ms. Casey brought in people from her former adventure-sports stomping ground, as well as from Newsweek and Shape . Ms. Casey spoke about the possibility of moving from eight to 10 issues next year.
As for content–well, the new boss knows she’s got her work cut out for her. One SI source described the July/August issue featuring soccer star Brandi Chastain as “sickingly positive and uplifting.” Another source said, “It’s mind-boggling that you couldn’t put out a successful magazine in terms of women’s sports.”
Ms. Casey wouldn’t address the work of the old regime–”I wasn’t the editor. I can’t really speak to what they did,” she said–but she did promise a magazine geared towards the female participant, combining the adventure-travel aspects of Outside with the sports-junkie-ism of the original SI.
“It really is a different creature,” Ms. Casey said.
“It has a chance to be good,” one SI source said. “At least she has some vision. What I really hate is the cheapening of the brand. I hate CNN/SI and I hated this. I would much rather have the magazine stand alone than any of this. If it’s going to say ‘ Sports Illustrated ‘ on it, we should do it well. If not, they should drop it.”
Get ready for Franzen-mania! This fall’s literary star is shaping up to be Jonathan Franzen, the two-time novelist whose third novel, The Corrections, goes on sale Sept. 5. After popping up on “40-under-40”-type lists and being anointed as the next David Foster Eggers Moody Wurtzel Sedaris, Mr. Franzen is getting ready to take a star turn of his own. A sure sign he’s teetering on the edge of celebrity: His handlers are being mighty picky about who gets the first, exclusive Jonathan Franzen interview. Just like a real movie star!
Several highfalutin’ publications sought out the chance to Q&A Mr. Franzen, including Rolling Stone; they wanted to put the author on their Hot List. Assistant managing editor Will Dana said that Rolling Stone scuttled the listing when Jeff Seroy, the publicist at Mr. Franzen’s publisher, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, told them they couldn’t get an interview. “They said they were going to do either Time or The New York Times , and they wanted exclusivity,” Mr. Dana said. Mr. Dana acknowledged that he was a bit shocked to be J. Lo’d by a novelist; none of the other people Rolling Stone approached declined to cooperate, he said. Still, “there are no hard feelings,” Mr. Dana added gamely.
Talk, too, tried to get Mr. Franzen for their September issue. The magazine wanted to talk to Mr. Franzen for a small front-of-the-book item. F.S.G turned them down, too. Lee Smith, Talk ‘s senior editor, said he was surprised but played nice, too. “I understand it. If it helps him sell a lot of books, that’s great.” Talk still went ahead with a photo and write-up of Mr. Franzen in the new issue.
So who won the Franzen sweepstakes? (In the interest of full disclosure, The Observer was trying to get access as well.) The lucky winner was The New York Times Magazine . It’ll be running a full profile in either its Aug. 26 or Sept. 2 issue, according to deputy editor Katherine Bouton.
After that, Mr. Seroy said, Mr. Franzen will do as many interviews as he can handle, thus ensuring that we’ll all be completely annoyed and envious of him by Thanksgiving.
Go ahead, Bill Grimes–wear those cook’s shorts to work! Alex Kuczynski, break out that Fila track suit! New York has finally entered its first blistering heat wave, and the Newspaper Guild wants to make sure that Times employees know that there’s no dress code on 43rd Street.
On July 18, the guild wrote to its members: “In a memorandum to department heads, Dennis Stern, vice president of Human Resources, talked about a ‘dress code’ that prohibits employees from wearing items such as T-shirts, jeans, jogging suits and shorts. The Guild has repeatedly informed management that there has never been an ‘official’ or ‘unofficial’ dress code at The Times and that management cannot unilaterally implement a dress code without first bargaining over it with the Guild. Employees are expected to know what is proper attire for the business environment and to use their own discretion. If there are questions concerning this matter, please contact your shop steward.”
A spokesman for The Times said the memo was an accurate account of the Times dress code. One question: Who’s going to be the first to get sent home for traipsing around the newsroom in a Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts and flip-flops?
As soon as Inside.com made its pact with Steve Brill back in April, Deanna Brown–seen as the business brains behind the Web site–quietly disappeared. To be sure, sticking around would have been a little awkward, given that Ms. Brown had left her post at Brill’s Content to co-found the media news site with Kurt Andersen and Michael Hirschorn.
Little had been heard from Ms. Brown since–until we reached her on her cell phone in the elevator of a major magazine publisher. Ms. Brown, it turns out, is doing consulting work on the business side of media companies. Her first two clients: Daily Candy, the fashion Web site run by Dany Levy, and nonprofit radio station WNYC.
“I love to launch and build new products–that’s what I loved about Inside, and that’s what I love about Daily Candy and WNYC,” Ms. Brown said. “I love to work with visionaries and build revenue streams and get things up and running.”
The WNYC gig, of course, keeps Ms. Brown working with Mr. Andersen, who has of late been putting a lot of time into producing his weekly radio show, Studio 360 –when he’s not too busy as the vice chairman of Brill Media Holdings, of course.