J. Jonah Jameson, meet Michael Cooke! On April 26, the New York Daily News announced that it intends to join The Daily Bugle-along with Oliver Platt’s New York Ledger and Michael Keaton’s New York Sun-on the list of New York tabloids immortalized in TV and movies.
Next month, Hearst Entertainment will begin filming the doings on West 33rd Street for a six-part series on the Bravo network-a show the principals described in a release as “filmed with the intimacy of a documentary, with total and complete access, but structured and edited like a traditional dramatic series.”
Like Dick Wolf’s Deadline, starring Mr. Platt of the Ledger, which was spiked by NBC after five episodes in 2000?
The show’s creator, Hearst Entertainment vice president James Deutch, said he had a higher target in mind. “I want to do the West Wing of reality shows,” Mr. Deutch said.
JOSH [thoughtfully]: You know, every night, we lay out “Meet Mr. Luckey.” But have we ever really met Mr. Luckey?
TOBY [sourly]: Every day, Josh. [squints at agate]
“I think the readers that see the show will like it and like us for doing it,” said Mr. Cooke, the Daily News editor.
In choosing the Daily News as his target, Mr. Deutch is already breaking with tradition. Hollywood generally prefers the louder New York Post as its model big-city tabloid. The short-lived Ledger went so far as to film in the old Post building and borrow the Post’s typeface for its banner.
But Mr. Deutch said choosing the Daily News allows the program to capture “this hybrid of tabloid journalism and hard-hitting investigative journalism”-screaming-headline energy crossed with “classic, iconic reporter images” à la All the President’s Men.
“If you have the dream of being a journalist,” Mr. Deutch said, “you come to the Daily News.”
Take that, all you 8-I reporters 10 blocks uptown!
Hearst Entertainment president Bruce Paisner described the Daily News as “our dream newspaper,” then offered another reason for choosing Mort Zuckerman’s paper over the competition. The Post, Mr. Paisner noted, is “owned by Mr. Murdoch, and he has his own television network.”
But the Post will have a role to play on the show too. The first reason for choosing the Daily News, Mr. Paisner said, was its status as a busy big-city paper. The second, he said, was the “ongoing battle with the New York Post.”
The release announcing the show described its action as taking place “[a]gainst the backdrop of a vicious tabloid war with a competing paper.”
Mr. Deutch, a TV veteran, said he has no firsthand experience in newspapering. But he said he has gotten to know some of the reporters in the course of doing documentary work around town. He has previously filmed works on Deadheads and fashion-industry insiders-members of “a world that is unique unto itself.”
That individual character, he said, is what he hopes to capture about the news business. A sample pilot, roughly 20 minutes long, showed reporter Chrisena Coleman trying to track down information about strategy in a murder trial, fashion editor Amy DiLuna going to a photo shoot, and photographer Todd Maisel rushing to the scene of a Brooklyn car crash, according to Mr. Deutch.
“My boss was like, ‘I hope this isn’t a lot of people at their desk,’” Mr. Deutch said when reached by phone in Los Angeles. Well, but isn’t it? “By definition, if you’re a writer, you’re writing a lot,” Mr. Deutch conceded.
So the show aims to follow reporters out of the newsroom and all the way home. The pilot crew, for instance, accompanied Ms. Coleman to church on Sunday. “We want to understand what they do when they’re not working,” Mr. Deutch said.
(Maker’s, rocks, please!)
Mr. Cooke said he doesn’t personally anticipate having the cameras follow him home. “I have a radio body,” he said.
Does he see any budding TV stars on his staff? Mr. Cooke said he’s found that the most notable characters on reality TV tend to fall outside the classic telegenic types. “Most of our people in the newsroom qualify under that headline,” he said.
Is there anything that readers might prefer not to see in their living rooms? “Well, the newsroom is a little dirty,” Mr. Cooke said. “You wouldn’t want to have an open cut and walk around.”
Lest anything turn out too dirty, the Daily News has the right to limit what material Bravo can show. “We all have an arrangement among us about how we’re going to work it out,” Mr. Paisner said. He declined to go into the specifics. “Suffice it to say that we all seem to be getting along fine,” he said.
O.K., but suppose hypothetically the Daily News had a contest with cash prizes and accidentally printed the wrong winning numbers and crowds of people showed up outside brandishing game cards and demanding $100,000 payouts and the Post delivered giant bags of peanuts to the building to mock the paper’s plan to mollify the disgruntled readers?
“I think if they had been here filming during that period of time, you would have seen some of it,” Daily News spokesperson Eileen Murphy said.
If the show succeeds, Mr. Deutch said, he’d like to keep filming more episodes at the Daily News, while launching spinoff versions on other cities. “I want to do London and Miami,” he said. Also New Orleans, he added, and “the San Francisco Chronicle, which is a Hearst paper.”
It could, he said, become a multi-city documentary franchise. “What I’d like to do,” he said, “is like CSI.”
James Pallot had the shortest tenure among Condé Nast’s five National Magazine Award winners this year, with only two years in his current post. He was also the only one who doesn’t edit a magazine of his own.
The 45-year-old Mr. Pallot, an Oxford-educated native of England, is the editorial director of CondéNet, Advance Publications’ Internet branch. At a company where the leading titles are famous editors’ separate fiefdoms, Mr. Pallot’s job is to marshal the various magazines-including titles from both the Condé Nast and Fairchild wings-under online umbrella brands.
Style.com, the site that won the Ellie for online excellence, combines original content with material edited from Condé Nast’s Vogue and Fairchild’s W, effecting a virtual merger between Anna Wintour and Patrick McCarthy. Mr. Pallot’s Men.Style.com, meanwhile, marries GQ and Details, while his Epicurious.com joins Gourmet to Bon Appétit.
“If we have enough combined assets and we can corner the market in a particular category, than we do it,” Mr. Pallot said on a recent Friday afternoon sipping Pellegrino over lunch at DB Bistro Moderne. “I think Anna is very happy with how it works. It seems to work well for both parties.”
He fit the mold of a sleek Condé Nast fashion editor: His charcoal gray Paul Smith suit was paired with a matte black shirt, matching plastic-framed glasses and Wallaby shoes.
“To deal with that minefield requires a diplomat,” said Mr. McCarthy, W’s chairman and editorial director. “Everyone thinks they are the most important. But James does it brilliantly.”
Style.com “has become its own freestanding magazine, of the online sort,” Vogue fashion news and features director Sally Singer said. “I view them as companion pieces.”
Mr. Pallot talks about his work in magazine-friendly lingo. Web sites, he said, operate like the “front of the book,” requiring a visual approach in an “A.D.D. medium.” His designers craft slick layouts to the exacting standards of their print counterparts, complete with cover lines, captions and packages. Readers familiar with Vogue bylines will recognize writers in the digital world; Vogue contributing editor Sarah Mower reviews collections for Style.com.
“We trust Sarah. In that sense, in the critical sense, we share a common perspective,” Ms. Singer said.
But technologically, Mr. Pallot was an early adopter. He first began reporting on the film business in the late 1980′s for a pioneering company called Baseline in New York. After four years there, he moved to News Corp.’s Internet division, working his way up through the new-media ranks in the 1990′s to become editor in chief of Microsoft’s city guide, Sidewalk.com.
Condé Nast was much slower to embrace the Web. The company formed CondéNet in 1995 mainly as a channel to drive Web browsers to get print subscriptions. For six years, the division was exiled to a satellite office at 1440 Broadway.
That’s where it was in 2001, when Mr. Pallot came aboard as Style.com’s editor in chief. He had joined a startup launching an online technology magazine (he described it as the indie Canadian Wired), then found himself unemployed. After six months in Asia playing soccer for a local league in Laos, he came back to Time Inc. and redesigned People.com. When that project wrapped up, he jumped to CondéNet.
“I had been burned … and I knew I liked working for big, secure media companies,” Mr. Pallot said. “I said, ‘No more of those rogue ventures.’”
CondéNet had taken a hit of its own when the tech bubble burst, shedding nearly 50 percent of its staff. And Style.com was essentially unknown in fashion circles.
Mr. Pallot said he was a nobody the first time he attended the men’s fashion shows in Milan three years ago.
“No one recognizes your face and you don’t really know where you fit in,” Mr. Pallot, said. “The next time you go, your familiarity with those individuals makes all the difference.”
CondéNet moved into the 17th floor of 4 Times Square, the former Mademoiselle space, in November 2001. And as the Internet regained its economic footing, Mr. Pallot’s standing has steadily risen around Condé Nast headquarters. He was first hired as editor in chief of Style.com, and was promoted to editorial director of CondéNet in 2003, the first year Style.com was a finalist for a National Magazine Award. With his four Web sites, Mr. Pallot has secured some five million monthly readers.
In December, he gained entrée into the inner circle with a seat at S.I. Newhouse’s table at Condé Nast’s annual Four Seasons holiday launch, where he dined alongside Domino editor Deborah Needleman, Tom Florio and Graydon Carter.
During his three years under former Condé Nast editorial director James Truman, Mr. Pallot said he met with Mr. Truman only once. In the three months since Thomas Wallace took over that post, Mr. Pallot said, they had held three meetings.
“These Web sites are extremely valuable and will only become more valuable as time goes on,” Mr. Wallace said by phone on April 25. “Jamie has the universal respect of all the editors in chief of Condé Nast magazines, including me.”
And now he’s in the Condé Nast print ads celebrating the National Magazine Awards, his name listed right above that of The New Yorker’s five-Ellie-winning David Remnick.
“It’s a fantastic ego boost,” Mr. Pallot said of the ads. “I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s like a shot of adrenaline.”
“I don’t compare myself to David Remnick,” he added, “though it’s nice to be recognized for doing something well.”
On April 15, Dow Jones posted an announcement on its corporate intranet to alert staffers to a new marketing blitz: To promote the September launch of the paper’s weekend edition, the paper had rolled out a pair of new house ads in that day’s Marketplace section.
“The new campaign brings Journal readers to life and shows how the Weekend Edition will engage and inspire them,” Judy Barry, The Journal’s vice president for marketing, said in the release.
The posting included a link to a PDF of page B5, which had carried the ad. Two mock stories-designed to resemble The Journal’s signature A-hed page-one features-ran down the sides of the page. Journal-style “headcut” illustrations offered portraits of two imaginary readers, “Maria” and “Bob.”
Sandwiched between Maria and Bob, however, was the actual news story from B5: “Dow Jones, New York Times Post Earnings Hurt by Ad Weakness.” The piece detailed how Dow Jones first-quarter net income plunged 54 percent, which the company blamed on declining advertising. Dow Jones stock, the piece reported, was trading near a 52-week low.
New York Times pundit standings, April 19-25
1. Paul Krugman, score 21.5 [rank last week: 1st]
2. Frank Rich, 21.0 [3rd]
3. (tie) David Brooks, 15.5 [tied-7th]
Maureen Dowd, 15.5 [5th]
5. John Tierney, 9.0 [tied-7th]
6. Bob Herbert, 6.5 [4th]
7. (tie) Thomas L. Friedman, 0.0 [2nd]
Nicholas D. Kristof, 0.0 [6th]
Fat was healthy for the Times conservatives, as David Brooks and John Tierney both chose to weigh in about a federal finding that mildly overweight people live longer than skinny or “normal” people. That helped the two get on the scoreboard after last week’s mutual famine. Are Times readers drifting rightward, or just getting portlier? The most e-mailed article of all for the week was not any pundit’s thoughts about fat, but Gina Kolata’s straight-news story about the fat study itself.