Mark Frith, editor-in-chief of celebrity weekly Heat, is leaving the title after ten years to write a book.
Frith will leave Bauer Consumer Media in mid-May, and has signed a book deal with publisher Ebury Press to write the inside story on the rise of celebrity culture during his ten years at the helm of Heat.
The book, The Celeb Diaries - Tears, Tantrums and Excess - promises to lift the lid on some of the biggest celebrities from the last decade and will be published in September. Ebury Press previously published Piers Morgan's take on life in the tabloid press, The Insider.
Julian Linley, editor of heatworld.com and previously deputy editor of Heat will add the role of acting editor of the print title to his remit until Frith's successor has been confirmed, when he will return to a digital only role.
Heat launched in 1999 as a unisex entertainment title, but was reinvented as a women's weekly in 2000 when Frith was appointed editor, and played a key part in the boom of celebrity weeklies. Frith's first job at Emap was at pop fortnightly Smash Hits, where he was appointed editor in 1994 aged 23. He then left to work on Sky magazine in 1996, returning to Emap at the end of 1997 to be deputy editor on Project J – which became Heat.
Frith was charged with turning the title around after an initial period of underwhelming sales. Under his guidance the title changed its emphasis to celebrity gossip, taking the magazine above the 500, 000 circulation mark and sparking a series of imitators in the market. In the latest ABCs, the title was down 11 per cent year on year to 533,034 for the second half of 2007.
Frith didn't rule out returning to a media career once his book is finished. He said: 'Taking Heat from sales of 65,000 a week to over half a million has been an exhilarating experience. The Heat team is truly exceptional and I wish them all the best for the future".
"I'm extremely excited about the book and look forward to a brand new challenge when I've finished the book."
Frith has won a number of British publishing award including PPA Editor of The Year twice and, in 2005, the BSME Mark Boxer Award for special achievement in UK magaziines.
Marcus Rich, Group MD of BCM's London Lifestyle Brands, said: 'Heat has redrawn the magazine landscape, becoming THE must-have magazine week-in, week out and a cultural reference point. While we are obviously extremely sorry to lose Mark, he leaves a great team and a strong cross-platform brand that will continue to excite the Heat community. As a former deputy editor of heat, Julian has a huge heritage with the brand, is extremely experienced and I have no doubt will manage a smooth transition.
'I would like to personally thank Mark for the huge success and support he has brought Emap/Bauer over the past two decades and for the legacy of a supremely talented team that will continue to drive the heat brand on to even greater heights. We wish him the very best in the next stage of his career.