Bonnie Fuller 2.0: On the Internet, Nobody Knows You’re A Famous Magazine Editor!

Ms. Fuller next landed perhaps her most memorable gig, revitalizing Us Weekly for Jann Wenner. Her cavity-inducing coverlines and demystifying take on modern celebrity (“Stars–They’re Just Like Us!”) pumped up newsstand sales, distinguished Us from heavyweight People, and spawned a number of copycats: among them, OK!, In Touch Weekly, Life & Style and Star.

After walking away from Us Weekly at her peak, surprising colleagues and inviting still more biting press attention, it was on to American Media Inc., where she’d been hired as editorial director overseeing a number of titles, including Star. Ms. Fuller’s fall was sudden and would have seemed almost random had it not made for such delicious wish-fulfillment among those who’d long rooted for her demise.

When she left American Media in May 2008, with plans to start a new company, Bonnie Fuller Media, few were heartbroken by the reversal of fortune. Ms. Fuller planned, vaguely, to take on cyberspace with a web startup that promised, as this paper put it, to “approach Ms. Fuller as a brand” and “feature her blogging about topics such as gossip, fashion, and romance.”

It wasn’t to be.

“My timing was terrible,” Ms. Fuller said. “I was getting my business plan ready, and I was ready to start appointments the week that Lehman Brothers collapsed.”

Despite that setback, Ms. Fuller eventually found a willing collaborator in Mr. Penske, the flamboyant truck-rental scion, web entrepreneur and serial actress-dater. Mr. Penske was soon to make a tidy sum selling his startup, Mail.com, and was busily assembling a media empire of his own, acquring Nikki Finke’s Deadline blog from Village Voice Media in June 2009. He relaunched Hollywood Life, a defunct glossy, as a website several months later, with some design motifs borrowed from Us Weekly: a neon-colored palette, big pictures, eye-catching captions.

“Women love to look at pictures,” Ms. Fuller said.

Though the site is not yet profitable, it attracted a respectable 3.5 million unique visitors in April 2011 and includes CoverGirl and Microsoft among its advertisers. Ms. Fuller added that a planned expansion and redesign of the site’s beauty coverage is underway.

The shuttering of Bonnie Fuller Media meant focusing less on the planned Bonnie-as-brand organizing principle and more on celebrity news, Ms. Fuller’s métier.

Nonetheless, she has become a personality on the site, penning a regular “Bonnie Says” column and maintaining a Twitter feed with some over 13,000 followers.

On May 11, she Tweeted, “RIP Bob Marley: let’s not forget how u worked to end violence in Jamaica. Died far too soon of melanoma at age 36.” She stridently points out that she loves her iPad, which she uses on the commute into Grand Central Station (no more Town cars).

Though one of Ms. Fuller’s key deputies, general manager Will Lee, is the former New York bureau chief for TMZ, Hollywood Life’s coverage tends to be considerably sunnier and more friendly than its more aggressive, sometimes apocalyptic counterpart.

Bonnie Fuller 2.0: On the Internet, Nobody Knows You’re A Famous Magazine Editor!