Paul Merrill - Editor, Zoo

19.05.05

Currently I am putting the final touches to this week’s mag.

We have Paris Hilton, Jeremy Clarkson, a Champions League final
preview and stuff on the new League of Gentlemen film. Feels like a
strong issue.

The only slight worry is a feature we’re doing on a
new curry, which is 8,000 times stronger than a vindaloo. We decided
that the only truly scientific way to test it was by trying it out on
our columnist, Barry Austin, who’s Britain’s fattest man. Apparently,
more than one drop of this stuff can kill, and Barry was happily
wolfing down platefuls. Have got the lawyers hastily checking our
insurance policy.

Thursday is when the magazine for the following
week is largely finished. We can still tweak the cover, and put through
last-minute stories if something big happens. If Abi Titmuss shags
Calum Best in the next 24 hours, we can get some nice big pics in.

20.05.05

Well, Titmuss didn’t get it on with Best, so we can all rest easy
and start next week’s cover. First thing is the choice of girl. Lucy
Pinder is a bit of a banker with us, so we’re going to use her to
launch our new celebrity sex advice column.

A different famous person will answer our readers’ questions about
threesomes, daisy chains and the best ways to chat up girls each week.
The new piece will sit alongside our long-term sex column by Mo Mowlam.
Mo’s copy usually needs toning down even more than our former
columnist, Jodie Marsh.

Also on next week’s cover is our
end-of-season football awards. Zoo is now the most read mag among
Premiership footballers, so our awards have created a bit of a buzz.
The winner, unsurprisingly, is John Terry, who’ll be presented with the
prestigious Zoofa (Zoo Football Award) in due course. We’re quietly
confident that the Zoofas will soon be as much a part of the awards
season as Oscars and Baftas.

23.05.05

Have got this afternoon off as it’s my son’s sixth birthday. A
frustrating morning was taken up entirely with tense and hurried
negotiations with a well-known cover girl, who I won’t name. She wants
£15,000 for a shoot and we’re only prepared to go to £10,000. And
there’s some debate as to how naked she’s prepared to get.

Now, our covers are at the classy end of the market, often shot in
luxurious locations with expensive underwear, but clearly we do still
need them to be sexy. She suggests a ‘nice, low-cut dress’, we suggest
‘nice, skimpy lingerie’. She suggests a swimsuit, we suggest a bikini.

It
drags on and on, and the following week’s cover is suddenly looking
very doubtful. It gets to 2pm, and I leave, still talking to my showbiz
editor on the mobile about what else we can negotiate on.

At
home, I am sitting down to a birthday tea of jelly, ice cream and Hula
Hoops when the phone goes. She’s agreed to £12,000, and a baby doll.
‘Will there be enough cleavage?’ I say, in hushed tones. Apparently,
that could still be an issue.

As the Scooby Doo birthday cake is
wheeled out, my mobile sounds off angrily again. The deal has fallen
through over a suggestion she do ‘hand bra’. Annoying, but we have a
few other options. I still may be able to have my cake and eat it.

24.05.05

We’ve managed to get a chat with Liam Gallagher on Thursday. It
turns out that we’re his favourite mag. He did tell our reporter to
fuck off, but we think that was before he realised it was Zoo. At least
that’s what we’re hoping.

The Champions League final is clearly also on the radar.

We have our deputy sports editor there, jammy git. And lots of pages to fill if Liverpool win.

25.05.05

Bad start to the day. Did an interview on Five Live on an empty
train at Waterloo station. It was the only quiet place I could find at
a minute’s notice. I was humiliated when a guard yelled at me live on
air to get off the train as it was about to leave. Ended up running
down the carriage, desperately trying to remember what to say.

The issue’s now largely done. There are only two unknown factors –
Liverpool and Oasis. We’ve allegedly now got the chat with Liam
tomorrow outside his house, but the timing will be tight, and he’s
notoriously unreliable.

In the surely very unlikely event that
Liverpool win, we’ll need to clear some space for them at the front. We
have a plan A – Liverpool lose and we get Liam; plan B – Liverpool win
and we don’t get Liam and, well, you can work out what plans C and D
are. If we don’t get him, and Liverpool lose, we’ll have to hope
Titmuss escapes her bikini top again in Celebrity Love Island or else
next week’s cover will look a bit flat.

We’ve also just got wise
to perhaps the only thing worth watching in the show – Rebecca Loos’s
moustache. In the cruel Fijian sunlight, it does look as if it needs a
trim. We decide to speculate on how she’ll look by the time the series
ends, which involves crudely superimposing Tom Selleck, David Seaman,
David Brent and Hitler ‘taches on to her upper lip.

Finally, it’s
off to the pub to watch the game. I wonder if Gerrard realises how
important it is for next week’s cover that they win. I will personally
hand him a Zoofa if he saves the day.

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