American Pie 26.08.05

The once verboten f-word is appearing more often in newspapers here
these days. And not just in fringe newspapers like The Village Voice.
In fact, the word is becoming increasingly acceptable in many major
newspapers. In Canada, it has even found its way into the latest
edition of the venerable editors’ handbook called Caps and Spelling.
Explains the style-book’s editor Patti Tasko: “We found the word is
creeping into news stories on a fairly regular basis, probably because
people are saying it more and more in public and it gets picked up by
microphones and on recorders.” The style book recommends that editors
shouldn’t be mealy mouthed. “Spell it out,” they are urged. “No f and
three asterisks. No eff-words, freakings, or friggings either.” The
word is now routinely listed in dictionaries. It’s also heard on such
acclaimed television shows as The Sopranos and Six Feet Under. “It’s
much more socially acceptable these days,” adds Katherine Barber,
editor-in-chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Some editors are now
telling their reporters the word can be used – as long as it
contributes to a story. “In other words, don’t use it gratuitously,”
said the editor of the Toronto Globe and Mail. “And never use it in a
headline or the first para of a story.”

The
interest in Deep Throat, once American journalism’s biggest mystery, is
apparently waning. The book, The Secret Man, by former Washington Post
writer Bob Woodward was rushed into the bookshops after Deep Throat was
finally identified (as Mark Felt, pictured ). However, early sales
figures are lacklustre, to say the least.

One Washington
bookstore that ordered 400 copies has sold just 60. Another store that
expected blockbuster sales has sold four. What probably hurt the book’s
sales most was the widespread publicity that followed the publication
of the story revealing Deep Throat’s identity that ran in the July
issue of Vanity Fair. But if it’s any consolation, there has been a
sudden and unexpected revival of interest in the first Watergate book
by Woodward and his colleague Carl Bernstein called All the President’s
Men, now out in paperback.

After a couple of pretty lean years,
women’s fashion magazines here are enjoying a new boom. Judging by the
page count, it seems some are back to telephone-book size. Vogue’s
latest issue runs to more than 800 pages and weighs in at 4.5lbs.
Others are not much smaller.

W, with 600 pages, is a hefty 3lbs,
while Elle, with 544 pages, weighs 2.5lbs. All claim that circulation
is rising. And it’s a similar story with celebrity mags. Despite fierce
competition and several new entrants in an already crowded field, many
claim that circulation is up, notably Us Weekly, People, Star and In
Touch. However, it’s In Touch that leads the field. Its circulation has
climbed to an impressive 1.1m – an almost 50 per cent increase,
although rivals point out that its cover price, at $l.99 (just over £1)
is the lowest of all.

One magazine that can really claim to have
taken off is Men’s Journal. After the return of the space shuttle
Discovery, it was revealed that a copy of the magazine was among a
range of reading material that Steve Robinson decided to take into
space with him. He was the astronaut who took the space walk to repair
the damage to the shuttle’s heat shield that occurred during its
launch. The main feature in the issue that Robinson took into space?
“Fifty Best Places to Live”.

Dennis Publishing is hoping to
emulate the early success, years ago, of the Playboy nightclubs by
going into the bar business. Dennis is currently involved in a deal
with a group of nightclub developers to create a chain of Maxim Lounges
across the country. The first will open early next year. Locations
under consideration are, of course, New York, then maybe Miami, Los
Angeles and Las Vegas. The target clientele will be after work and late
night drinkers, young men in their twenties who like “cool drinks” and
playing billiards. Clubs linked to magazines have not always fared
particularly well. The empire of Playboy Clubs lasted some years, but
finally faded from the scene with the closure of its Manila club in
1991, and many others have struggled and closed. On the other hand,
Maxim’s sales in the US have held steady at around 2.5m. A new
commercial venture, a line of hair dye for men, is said to be beating
the market leaders.

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