Off the Record

Since the forced retirement of longtime GQ editor Art Cooper on Feb. 24, many insiders have all but handed the

Since the forced retirement of longtime GQ editor Art Cooper on Feb. 24, many insiders have all but handed the job to his dashing young counterpart across the Atlantic, Dylan Jones. Mr. Jones, the 41-year-old editor of British GQ , is considered the savior of the cross-the-pond edition, taking it over in 1999 and infusing it with a sexy, young sensibility without stooping to the overt raunchiness of laddie competition like Maxim and Loaded . Such an infusion is precisely what the American GQ needs, insiders have argued, and that’s why Mr. Jones has been considered the favorite.

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It appears, however, that Mr. Jones won’t be getting the job after all. In an interview with Off the Record, Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Condé Nast International, who oversees the non-American brands of the company, said Mr. Jones would remain in London.

“I have to say he’s a superb editor, and we love having him in Britain,” Mr. Newhouse said. “But he’s not going to America.

“There’s no maybe about it,” Mr. Newhouse continued. “He’s not [coming].”

Of course, there are denials, and then there are Condé Nast denials, and the Art’s-going-nowhere protests of both Condé Nast chief executive Steve Florio and Mr. Cooper himself in the Feb. 19 edition of the New York Post -five days before Mr. Cooper retired-must be considered when evaluating Mr. Jones’ status. What’s more, Mr. Newhouse emphasized that he “didn’t speak for America.”

But Mr. Newhouse-long seen as a successor to his uncle, S.I. Newhouse Jr., as Condé Nast chairman-insisted that the company’s list of possible replacements for Mr. Cooper didn’t include Mr. Jones or “any British editors.”

“In America, they want an American editor,” Mr. Newhouse said. He added that importing someone from England was “very unusual.”

“Historically, there was Tina Brown,” said Mr. Newhouse, referring to the former Tatler editor who came over to run Vanity Fair in 1984. As for Vogue editor Anna Wintour, another Brit, he said: “One of Anna Wintour’s parents was American.”

Contacted by Off the Record, Mr. Jones agreed with Mr. Newhouse, saying he remained committed to running British GQ .

“I haven’t been approached,” Mr. Jones said. “I love my job, and I’m staying in London.”

Some in publishing were not surprised to hear that Mr. Jones was not the top dog after all. Fellow Brit Andy Clerkson, currently the general manager of the U.S. edition of Maxim, speculated that Mr. Jones’ hawkish approach to the British publishing wars might be out of place within the quiet corridors of Pink Rock.

“If they’re not looking at Dylan, it means they’re not interested in his newsstand sensibility-which is a little too visual, a little too aggressive,” Mr. Clerkson said. ” GQ in the U.K. is probably more aggressive and sexier for the U.S. Condé Nast and GQ .”

Condé Nast recently commenced its formal search for Mr. Cooper’s replacement. While Mr. Cooper had said that he’d take an active role in the process, Condé Nast sources told Off the Record that the decision would essentially be made by editorial director James Truman-who, according to sources, began interviewing candidates on Friday, Feb. 28.

According to one Condé Nast source, Mr. Truman would like the process to be finished by the end of March.

“The feeling is that James is going to recommend who he wants to Si,” one Condé Nast source said. “If Si has any deep reservations, then things might change. But otherwise, it’s James’ call.”

However, on the recommendation of Mr. Cooper, sources said, Mr. Truman spoke with both internal candidates-executive editors Jim Nelson and Michael Hainey-on Feb. 28. Sources said that Mr. Nelson, a former CNN news writer and editor at Harper’s would most probably be his choice should Mr. Truman hire from within, though the same sources acknowledged that Condé Nast rarely turns to internal candidates.

Mr. Nelson did not return repeated requests seeking comment, and Mr. Hainey declined to comment. Through the company’s spokeswoman, Maurie Perl, Mr. Truman declined to comment. Ms. Perl added that Mr. Truman felt any comment about the magazine’s future would be “inappropriate” and “premature.”

Mr. Truman does have something of a flair for the unexpected. Kim France had been an editor-at-large at Spin before Mr. Truman tapped her to be the woman to launch Lucky . Likewise, New Yorker editor David Remnick was a writer-albeit a Pulitzer Prize–winning one-when he was chosen to succeed Ms. Brown after she left to launch Talk in 1998.

According to Condé Nast sources, both Mr. Truman and Mr. Newhouse have expressed a desire to shorten the articles in the magazine and add more service and even more fashion to the mix. While former Spin editor and VH1 exexecutive Michael Hirschorn remains a candidate, this would seem the perfect brief for Men’s Health editor in chief David Zinczenko, who, following Mr. Cooper’s retirement, reaffirmed his commitment to his own magazine in an e-mail to staff.

Though that e-mail was interpreted by some as a sign that Mr. Zinczenko was pulling out, sources within the company said the editor remains a viable candidate and the favorite of GQ ‘s publisher, Ron Galotti. Since coming to the magazine in 2002, Mr. Galotti had a strained relationship with Mr. Cooper, and was spied chatting merrily with Mr. Zinczenko during Fashion Week in February. One source said that members of the GQ fashion department who’d witnessed the rival editor and publisher “mixing it up” were “appalled.” (Through a spokesperson, Mr. Galotti declined to comment. Mr. Zinczenko, meanwhile, said through a spokesperson: “I have no idea what runs through the minds of the top brass of Condé Nast. I have no intention of leaving the hottest men’s magazine on the planet.”)

Whomever Mr. Truman chooses will have to find a way to improve the magazine’s circulation. While Mr. Cooper leaves GQ with a circulation of around 800,000, Dennis Publishing’s Maxim and Stuff have reached 2.5 million and 1 million in circulation, respectively, in less than a decade. FHM , published by EMAP, has a circulation of over 1 million.

But Mr. Clerkson, the original editor in chief of Stuff in the United States, said Condé Nast would be little served should they try to follow the laddie magazines’ editorial example. He pointed to the ill-fated stewardship of Details by former Maxim editor Mark Golin in 1999, which he deemed a disaster.

“What should they do?” Mr. Clerkson said. “They should have someone who’s been a disciple of Art, who’d continue doing the magazine they’ve been doing for the last 20 years.

“The last thing anyone who reads GQ needs is someone to Maxim- ize GQ ,” Mr. Clerkson continued. “That just stands to lose readers.”

With or without the use of airbases in Turkey, it seems inevitable that troops from the United States will soon be on the ground in Iraq, finishing a task left undone by the first Gulf War a decade ago. Meanwhile, The New York Times is beefing up its troops on the border, too.

According to sources, The Times will dispatch a bevy of reporters from a number of different bureaus to serve as “embeds”-reporters embedded in traveling military units.

The list includes Jeffrey Gettleman, the Atlanta-based national correspondent for the paper, who will be embedded in the 4th Infantry, and Sarah Kershaw, the Seattle bureau chief, who will be stationed at the Al Udeid Airbase in Qatar. Los Angeles bureau chief John Broder and Los Angeles correspondent Charlie LeDuff will also serve as embeds. Other names you’ll see “embed” stories from, according to sources, are John Kifner (who’s traveling with the Marines), Marc Santora and Steven Lee Myers. Jim Dwyer will report on the movements of the 101st Airborne, and James Dao will follow the Air Force.

Of course, embeds are only part of The Times ‘ expected war coverage. In addition to reporters moving into Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey, The Times is sending Ian Fisher to Baghdad, where he’ll join Neil MacFarquhar; meanwhile, Charlie LeDuff will continue to report from Northern Iraq, where he’s been one of the few foreign journalists.

Also traveling to the war will be Los Angeles–based Times national cultural correspondent Bernard Weinraub, the writer of an ongoing Sunday Times series about rock ‘n’ roll giants like B.B. King and Bo Diddley. Mr. Weinraub, a former Vietnam correspondent, won’t be the only show-business embed; New York Post movie critic Jonathan Foreman will be among that paper’s war correspondents.

Times National editor Jim Roberts said that coverage of domestic affairs wouldn’t suffer, despite the fact that four members of his staff would become embeds.

“If there’s a war, the newspaper’s covering one story. My staff will be directly involved,” Mr. Roberts said. “The war will be a national story and a metro story. Should we have a war, we’ll all be covering the various ways it affects the nation, the city and our institutions.”

It was only fitting that People would publish an excerpt from the new book Red Carpet Diaries: Confessions of a Glamour Boy , written by the magazine’s West Coast style editor, the wild-haired fashion maven and Access Hollywood and Today regular Steven Cojocaru.

But in the process of publishing the excerpt in the March 10 issue, sources said that People ‘s fact-checking department busted Mr. Cojocaru for fibbing about his age . People ‘s own research discovered that Mr. Cojocaru was not 36, as he had claimed, and as had been reported in USA Today on Feb. 26, but 40.

Holy Zeta-Jones! According to sources, when Mr. Cojocaru discovered that the magazine planned to run his real age, he called and begged them to reconsider. The decision ultimately rested with People managing editor Martha Nelson, sources said stood by her staff and let the magazine print Mr. Cojocaru’s real age..

Ms. Nelson was unavailable for comment, and People assistant managing editor Larry Hackett declined to comment.

Mr. Cojocaru said: “I’m going to do a Joan Collins on you and say, ‘No comment.’ It’s ludicrous-I’m 23!”

In a Feb. 26 “Public Lives” piece, The New York Times profiled Jeff Koyen and Alexander Zaitchik, the new editor in chief and associate editor for the New York Press , who had previously headed The Pill , a paper published in Prague.

That story-written by Peter S. Green, a Times freelancer based from Prague-included the biographies of both men and discussed their tenure at The Pill and their intentions for the Press . It said the two men planned to make the paper “meatier” and draw it away from being so personal-essay-heavy.

What the Times profile didn’t include, though, was any mention of a raunchy, profanity-laced letter of introduction that Mr. Koyen wrote for the Press , which appeared in the issue published the day before, on Feb. 25.

“Raunchy” and “profanity-laced,” actually, is putting it mildly: In a rollicking essay that was one part Hunter Thompson and 12 parts Al Goldstein, the 34-year-old Mr. Koyen rhapsodized, among other things, about his decision not to have sex with a 17-year-old girl in Prague, as well as the lenient age-of-consent laws in his former home and his love-hate relationship with the Czech city.

“Prague is a beautiful girl who you fuck, over and over, and have a great time,” Mr. Koyen wrote. “She’s accommodating and eager, friendly and cheap. One morning, though, you wake up next to her and try to have a meaningful conversation. She rolls over and stares at you and you realize what everyone else knew all along: Prague is a stupid bitch!”

Sounds just like Vaclav Havel’s farewell speech! Moving on, Mr. Koyen turned his attentions to New York City and his anxieties about returning to work here, comparing his feelings to a tryst he’d had with an Australian woman who advised to “just relax” as she stuck an index finger into his tushie.

“The pinkie was fine, I told her,” Mr. Koyen wrote. “More than fine, in fact. ‘Why not stick with the pinkie?’ I asked.

“Being an ambitious type, she wanted to upgrade to a larger finger. ‘Just relax. And trust me.’

“And so I borrow from her as I address the readers of this, the third issue that bears my name and that of Alexander Zaitchik, my former co-editor at the Prague Pill ,” Mr. Koyen concluded. “Just relax. And trust me. I’m going to tear things down a bit-mostly because I’m bored-but I promise to build them back up. I promise you’ll get off.”

Shockingly, none of this made its way into The Times . But Mr. Koyen told Off the Record that the editorial was an aberration and “wouldn’t set the tone” for future issues. He said he’d gotten some response to the piece, mostly from people surprised at his “frankness.” But he also said a former staffer wrote to tell him he’d “put a little guts back in the paper.”

“This was just a way to talk straightforwardly to the readers,” Mr. Koyen said, in what may be the media understatement of the year. “I’ve written for the paper before, and there’s been a lot of confusion surrounding the paper. It was just to let people know I’ve come back and taken over as editor.”

Off the Record