Celeb weekly Star to turn up heat on rivals

Ric

Smith: ‘compulsive reading’

hard Desmond’s Northern & Shell is to shake up the celebrity magazine sector next Thursday with the £5m launch of handbag-sized weekly Star.

The move comes soon after Emap revealed its plan to launch a men’s weekly, known by insiders as Zoo Weekly, to be edited by Chat editor Paul Merrill.

Star will be aimed at “sassy”, streetwise and fashion-conscious women in their 20s and will contain celebrity interviews, shopping and travel features, 40 pages of fashion, a 36-page TV listings section and 40-page reviews section,covering films, books, records and DVDs.

Editor Martin Smith said it would feature “proper fashion with proper models” and the reviews would make “compulsive” reading.

The 196-page title, designed in a smaller A5 format, will have a print run of 500,000.

Smith told Press Gazette: “This is a really big launch for the company. It is celeb based but there is hell of a lot of style, beauty and cutting-edge fashion.

What I am trying to achieve is to make every page compulsive reading.”

Smith has poached Hershey Pascual from The Sunday Times Style magazine to be fashion editor and Polly Teller from Heat to be picture editor.

The 30-strong editorial team also includes deputy editor Busola Odulate, news editor Anna Pointer from the Sunday Mirror, features editor Ruth Hughes from the Daily Star, chief sub Lucy Melzer, previously with Mizz and Closer, and art director Christine Lee from Hot Stars.

Smith was editing the Daily Express Saturday Magazine until two months ago, when he was given a brief by Desmond to come up with an A5-sized celebrity magazine.

Smith claimed there would be little overlap with N&S titles OK!, New! and Hot Stars and claimed that, with the launch of Star, the company’s weekly sales in the celebrity sector could exceed one million.

Industry insiders fear it will put even more pressure on the celebrity market. The latest ABCs indicated that the growth of Now and Heat was beginning to slow down, despite impressive sales of 590,544 and 565,484 respectively.

Star is likely to have less impact on Closer (334,542) as the N&S title will not run real-life features. Smith said it would be “cooler” than Now, less “snidey” than Heat and would bring new readers into the market. “I expect it to impact on other celebrity titles. It will impact on Heat, for sure. Star will be attitude-packed. It’s certainly not mumsy, but how far down the snidey, sneery side we go is a different matter.”

By Ruth Addicott

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