American Pie 06.01.05

CDs, perfume and beauty aids as give-aways are old hat. So are paperback books these days. But how about The Bible? Over the holiday The Colorado Springs Gazette gave all its 90,000 readers copies of a 200-page New Testament . The give-away was the idea of the International Bible Society, which paid the Gazette $36,000 to distribute them-and also bought a page ad in the paper. The Gazette received a number of telephone calls and e-mails. Around half the callers liked getting the Bibles , but the most upset were Jewish readers: some threatened to cancel their subscriptions, saying it was insensitive to give New Testaments to people who might not want them. Some Muslims also objected. A spokesman for the paper, which in the past, among other things, has poly-bagged laundry detergent and promotional computer discs, said: “Just because we distribute something doesn’t mean we endorse it.” The Bible Society would like to expand its give-away and is talking, it’s said, to several other newspapers including the Denver Post and papers in Seattle, Nashville and California.

There was a time when Princess Di on a cover almost guaranteed big sales for American magazines -for which many editors admitted they were grateful. These days, showbiz celebrities dominate covers. And who is the Queen of the Covers? According to a survey by the New York Daily News, it’s Jennifer Lopez. The actress-singer was featured no less than 29 times last year on the covers of America’s four top celebrity mags, People, The Star, US and In Touch . The runner-up was Jennifer Alston. After her, the Olsen twins. Rounding out the top five were Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson.

On the subject of covers, some editors like having their picture on the cover of their magazine. One example: showbiz celebrity Oprah Winfrey. Since O (for Oprah) Magazine was launched three years ago she has been featured on every cover. This month she goes one better: there are two pictures of her on the cover of the January issue, one of her in a belly baring work-out ensemble next to one of her in a black evening gown.

Pictures of prisoners being ill-treated in Iraq are still causing repercussions. Six members of the US Navy and two of their wives are sueing Associated Press for distributing pictures of the Navy men allegedly mistreating Iraqi prisoners. They are claiming publishing the pictures invaded their privacy and inflicted emotional distress. The wives claimed that they received threatening phone calls. One of the pictures showed a prisoner with a gun pointed at his head. In another, aman appears to have blood dripping from his chest. The AP claims it did nothing wrong. The pictures were found, it says, by one of its reporters on a website called while researching alleged brutality by US Navy Seals.

The rebirth of Life magazine as a weekly newspaper supplement was hailed as a success at first. For three months it’s been included in more than 70 newspapers from New York to Los Angeles, with a total circulation of more than 12 million. But despite its name and history, the new Life is proving a hard sell. Most weeks it is astonishingly thin, with few adverts. One put off: a one-page ad costs $310,000 (more than £160,000). Many people now fear there is not so much life left in Life as everyone had previously thought.

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