• 25 Jun 2007 at 10:19 AM
  • Magazines

The Binn Supremacy

Jason Binn.jpg Jason Binn is a lot of things, the foremost being the owner of Niche Media, publisher of Gotham, Los Angeles Confidential, Capitol File, Hamptons, Boston Common, Aspen Peak, Mississippi Delta, Nodes of Scranton and other titles. The specific “Niche” is inanity, as Binn’s magazines cover the cavorting and consumption of the wealthy.
Niche Media is set to merge with Las Vegas based Greenspun Media Group which publishes Vegas, Wynn, Venetian Style and Things You Didn’t Think Could Be Covered in Gold Monthly, and Ocean Drive Media Group which publishes Ocean Drive and Ocean Drive Espanol. The resulting media conglomerate will combine a bunch of regional media properties into a more national network of 16 publications with a circ of 750k and expected revenue of $100mm.
The real story here is not the new luxury media outlet but Jason Binn, who knows a lot of people and parties with them. Jason Binn doesn’t discriminate between old and new money, so he’s quite the innovator. His fame transcends mere hugs with John Lovitz (pictured) and knowing a bunch of other people in the publishing world. He has a laugh like Woody Woodpecker, he’s smallish in stature, he can’t say “no,” and his magazines “are less concerned with dour topics like income disparity than making sure you land on the right side of that divide,” all according to a severely man-crushing David Carr of the New York Times.
Carr compiles a list of Binnspired (if not Binnspirational) quotes:
“Watching him work a room is like watching Derek Jeter play baseball.” – Mark Edmiston, managing director of AdMedia Partners
“Jason Binn, you are a force of nature.” Cathleen Black, president of Hearst Magazines
“Jason is able to combine image, content and prestige, which is right up my alley.” – Benny Shabtai, president of Raymond Weil watches and owner of Di Modolo jewelers
“Jason has defined a place the publishing giants aren’t interested in, and he works it brilliantly. There is something very endearing about him — the chutzpah and lack of pretense.” – David Carey, president at Condé Nast and publishing director of Portfolio
“Jason Binn is the most overrated shortstop in publishing.” – Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
“Jason Binn raped me.” – Jar of Macadamia Nuts, room 528 mini-bar, Wynn Las Vegas Resort
Say ‘Cheese’ for the King of the A-List [New York Times]

  • 15 Jun 2007 at 2:14 PM
  • Magazines

Maxim makes room for squares

nerds.jpg Maxim, once the leader of the lad-mag genre for teens who hadn’t discovered the uncensored glory of the internets, is being kicked out of the cool kids table for good, to permanently sit with the squares. The New York Post reports that Dennis Group is selling Maxim, Stuff and Blender to Quadrangle for $250mm.
Former Jan Wenner sidekick Kent Brownridge is set to be the CEO of the new entity, while Steve Colvin will relinquish his position as head of American operations at Dennis. Quadrangle gets some international licensing deals and Maximonline, but doesn’t get the British versions of Maxim or Stuff.
Done Deal [New York Post]

  • 29 May 2007 at 1:53 PM
  • Magazines

Pecker blows up in response to giant arms

andy roddick arms.jpg It’s no surprise that Andy Roddick’s arms are not on the latest cover of Men’s Fitness (pictured). The resulting fallout has been plastered all over the internets since the cover came out a couple weeks ago. Roddick even jokes about the cover on his personal blog, exclaiming, “Little did I know I have 22-inch guns and a disappearing birthmark on my right arm.” The magazine insists that they didn’t just paste Roddick’s head on some jacked dude (and that they don’t have a piss poor Photoshop guy who can at least match skin tones), but rather enhanced his existing arms, like Jax, the main guy from I, Robot or at least John McEnroe.
It is only recently, however, that news outlets (or whatever you want to call Page Six) got wind of AMI chief David Pecker’s true fury over the ordeal, as Pecker supposedly went ape on AMI editorial director Bonnie Fuller on Friday. Rumors of Fuller’s departure have circulated pretty much since she was hired at AMI to repair Star, but this may finally signal the end up the Fuller era, as further reports indicate that Bonnie is coming in late to avoid the angry Pecker, among other things.
***UPDATE: Roddick just lost in the first round of the French Open to unseeded Russian Igor Andreev, because he has arms like this.

  • 11 May 2007 at 11:39 AM
  • Magazines

Penthouse finally produces barely legal issue

penthouse.jpg Penthouse International settled with the SEC yesterday, over charges of accounting fraud and financial reporting violations. Of course Penthouse settled without admitting any wrongdoing, like improperly booking a $1 million payment from a Web site management agreement as revenue or changing a quarterly loss to a net profit in the 2003 first quarter 10-Q. Penthouse would file for Chapter 11 later that year.
Former exec and shareholder Charles Samel and Jason Galanis agreed to pay $60k for allegedly using a fake e-signature of former CEO Bob Guccione to meet SarbOx requirements.
Penthouse settles accounting fraud case with SEC [Reuters]

  • 03 May 2007 at 9:30 AM
  • Magazines

Burkle Looks to Shape AMI, perhaps Flex

ron_burkle_std.jpg When he isn’t corrupting the nation’s youth (the 27 year-old mayor of Pittsburgh) or jetting around with Bill Clinton on “Ron Air,” supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle is trying to snag up magazine distributors. The latest target in his crosshairs is American Media Inc (AMI), the struggling magazine publisher of Star, National Enquirer and a whole bunch of magazines featuring greased up dudes (Flex, Muscle & Fitness, Men’s Fitness, Pec Fancy).
It is unclear how much AMI is taking it on the chin, as it keeps delaying its 2006 financial results, after a myriad of accounting issues (involving the booking of magazine stand and office subscription revenue among other things – basically, blame the copy of Star in your dentist’s office) resulted in a protracted effort to restate financials starting early last year.
Despite internal affairs, title shutdowns, HQ relocations and Bonnie Fuller’s occupational rollercoaster, AMI’s real problems started when the paper tabloid was displaced by the glossy celebrity weekly, resulting in a huge (and expensive) strategic push for AMI to turn its tabloids into glossy publications and re-brand several of its core titles, not to mention a complete shift in revenue concentration from stand to sub revenue that hasn’t fully ramped up the way AMI expected (the losses in stand revenue haven’t yet been recouped by the gains in sub revenue for many titles). AMI is still in the middle of this push, but kind of in a jam now that the celebrity weekly market is over-saturated, and not experiencing the same rapid growth it saw over the last few years.
Now, T.H. Lee and Evercore want to salvage their $400+mm AMI investment made in April 2003 at almost 10x LTM EBITDA (does anyone know how much (or if) T.H. Lee or Evercore has written down its AMI investment?).
Burkle is reportedly attempting to merge AMI with Source Interlink Cos, now the number 1 domestic distributor of magazines after an aggressive acquisition strategy that included gobbling up Anderson News and Levy Brothers. Burkle owns 34% of Source through his investment company, Yucaipa Cos.
The NY Post broke this story, although no word on whether it tried to extort Burkle for coverage on the matter, like the alleged $220k Page Six tried to get from Burkle for a nice write-up.