Declining sales and massive staffing changes at the top of OK!’s masthead have led to much speculation about the weekly’s odds for survival. Now comes evidence that OK! will no longer focus on celebrity news, but will transform into a lifestyle magazine that no longer attempts to compete with the likes of People and Us Weekly.
On Friday, remaining staffers received an e-mail from consultant Juliet Gray (obtained by Gawker) asking the staff, among other things, to describe “What are two hot, buzz-worthy lifestyle topics and why,” and “one non-news celebrity lifestyle cover package. Please sell this to me in 3 sentences.”
Newly promoted executive editor Mary Ann Norbam was not among the recipients as she was unexpectedly let go. Ditto for features editor Rob Chilton, who was with the magazine since its 2005 U.S. launch. Gray intends to meet with all staffers May 5 to evaluate their answers.
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This wasn’t the first sign of change. Prior to this memo, the magazine quietly brought former Gotham magazine editor Jason Oliver Nixon on board.
“I am advising on the editorial content and brand positioning,” Nixon, also the global lifestyle editor for Delta Sky Magazine, confirms. According to his Weblog, Nixon is “always on the prowl for the latest and greatest finds, whether it’s ferreting out the grooviest new restaurant in Paris or unearthing a home-design store in Dubai.”
An industry source says that despite a magazine spokesperson’s claims that OK! is just engaging in “an on-going effort to enhance content and continue to differentiate the magazine within a very competitive category,” publisher Lori Burgess has put the lifestyle plan in motion. “Lori is calling all the shots," says the source. “There’s a prototype and everything.”
Burgess had this to say about the current changes: “Regarding OK!'S direction, we are very enthusiastic about our firm foundation and advertising page momentum this year (up 20% in a very challenging economy) and are working hard to enhance our offering to both the consumer and entertainment community —further delineating our brand from the competition.”
Mike Tyson kicks off film career
If onetime boxer Mickey Rourke could resurrect his career thanks to the film industry, why not Mike Tyson?
If nothing else, seeing himself on screen has given Tyson some shred of introspection. He told Rolling Stone that after seeing himself in the documentary “Tyson,” he wasn’t pleased with the person revealed on screen.
“I don’t like that person I see,” he told the magazine. “I’m afraid of that guy.”
Tyson apologizes for the man he was then — except the rape for which he was convicted in 1992, which he denies.
“I never understood why people had such a bad opinion of me,” he said. “Now I look at the movie and say, ‘This is why.’”
Next up for Tyson: he plays himself in “The Hangover,” a comedy where, according to Rolling Stone, he dotes on his pet tiger, playfully decks a visitor to his Vegas home and does an air-drum solo to Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” It’s not going to his head though.
“If I start believing that I’m the greatest, like people been telling me, I become a monster,” the father of six told the mag. “And I don’t want to lose my girlfriend. I don’t want to be estranged from my children. I don’t want to go through that again.”
‘Wolverine’ slashes box office
As predicted, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” came in first and surpassed the $80 million mark. The tepidly reviewed Hugh Jackman flick hit the $88 million mark, positively blowing away the number two film, “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” which made $17 million.
The other new release, “Battle for Terra” came in 12th, which sounds pretty underwhelming. However, the computer-animated 3-D movie was low-budget and didn’t have a massive marketing campaign. All in all, the numbers are that terrible.
Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com. Follow Scoop on Twitter: @ courtneyatmsnbc.