Death of the Star Magazine Editor
Does Bonnie Fuller's AMI exit signal an end to million-dollar contracts?
Yesterday, Bonnie Fuller, a celebrity magazine editor who seemed
to view herself as a celebrity in her own right, announced that she is abandoning
her post as editorial director at American Media Inc., publisher of Star and
the National Inquirer. Her departure, by many accounts, had been a long time in
coming. AMI CEO David Pecker had hired Fuller away from Wenner Media, where she
was responsible for the meteoric success of Us Weekly, to oversee Star’s
transformation from tabloid to glossy.
But it was the luxurious contract-which runs through March
2009-that ultimately lured Fuller away from Wenner.
Details of Fuller’s Current AMI Contract^
Annual salary: $1,500,000
Minimum bonus: $500,000
Target bonus: $1,000,000
Car service: $80,000
"Properly documented hair and makeup
Now, I’m no financial whiz. But a magazine that’s spending
$2,500,000—not including her hair and makeup!—on an editor who appears, at this point, to be relegated to blogging for the Huffington Post, is not
spending its money wisely.
And this, too, for a coveted editor who largely failed to
deliver on the promise she showed at Us Weekly. (A protracted newsstand slump
forced AMI to slash Star’s guaranteed circulation.)
Then again, as Keith Kelly noted, AMI was scared to cut her
loose in 2006, when she negotiated her current deal, because of how the move
would be perceived by the company’s potential suitors. Now that the rumored
interest from Ron Burkle’s Source Interlink appears to have fully evaporated, it
was the perfect time for AMI—and Fuller, to a certain degree—to cut bait.
I think, too, that paying an editor some 50 times, say, what
another editorial staffer was making is a poisonous recipe for any magazine.
Unless your name is Martha or Rachael Ray (or A-Rod), it’s a
good time for publishers to rein it in those exorbitant edit contracts.