Star editor asks Desmond for US release

Smith: “It’s my dream job”

Martin Smith, editor of celebrity magazine Star, was anxiously waiting for Richard Desmond to release him from his contract this week after being head-hunted by American Media to launch a magazine in Florida.

Smith is on a six-month contract and has yet to establish a leaving date.

If Desmond chooses to hold him to the contract, he could be forced to stay until Christmas.

Smith’s departure will come as a major blow to Desmond, who drew on his expertise and showbiz contacts to increase his share in the celebrity sector with the launch of Star, Hot Stars and Hot Celebs.

He has worked for Desmond for six years, previously as editor of The Express’s Saturday magazine and associate editor on OK!. He has also worked for What’s On TV and The Sun.

Smith has been poached to spearhead a launch for American Media, the company behind the National Enquirer and Star magazine in the US.

David Pecker, chief executive of American Media, is believed to have followed Smith’s career and sources say he had a specific role in mind when he first approached him four months ago.

Smith was flown over to New York for secret talks and the signing was kept under wraps while American Media tried to negotiate a visa.

Smith declined to comment on his leaving date, but said: “It is an absolutely brilliant top job – it is my dream job, really.”

Sales of Star are believed to have been disappointing after launch but Smith said they have picked up significantly since the smaller A5 format was dropped in favour of a bigger size.

“Star is on a real high and from my own perspective, that’s great. We are selling between 240,000 and 250,000 copies and we are actually making money every week,” he said.

Although Star is likely to post an ABC of around 180,000 to 190,000, sales over the past few months are believed to have broken the 200,000 barrier.

By Ruth Addicott

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