Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bonnie Fuller: She's Just Like US!

March 27, 2006 NY Times

Onetime Editor of Glamour Writes of Some Last Straws

Halfway through her new book, "The Joys of Much Too Much," Bonnie Fuller, the legendarily driven magazine editor, explains why celebrity weeklies are so popular.

"I think these stories humanize celebrities and make our readers feel so much better because they can see that celebrities aren't perfect," Ms. Fuller writes. "Not even they have a professional hair person and full-blown body makeup every day."

Ms. Fuller — the former editor of Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Us Weekly, and now editorial director of American Media, where she oversees magazines including the glossy Star weekly — uses her book, out next month, to give herself her own humanizing treatment.

In the magazine business, the most talked-about parts of the book are likely to be her description of being fired by Glamour, an event from which she says she feared she would never recover. The story has been told before, but not from her point of view.

Ms. Fuller provides no graphic scenes but admits repeatedly to errors of judgment like, while she was editing Glamour, entertaining an offer from Hearst to edit Harper's Bazaar ("blatant disloyalty is never the smart course of action.")

She also angered Catherine Zeta-Jones by running a picture of her on the cover of Glamour, which implied fresh coverage. But the picture was from a year-old photo shoot and the actress's publicist had refused a new interview.

Moreover, Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, was planning a cover with Ms. Zeta-Jones two months later and appeared angry that Ms. Fuller had stolen her thunder.

Ms. Fuller writes that Ms. Zeta-Jones was unhappy because she had not been able to control her coverage.

In her new job, Ms. Fuller does not face these debates.

"Three years later, the concept of only running a cover of a celebrity who fully cooperates is truly quaint," she said. "Neither Star nor Us Weekly nor any of the other celebrity newsweeklies makes it a practice." In other bits of autobiography tucked into what is basically a how-to manual for barreling through life, Ms. Fuller says she grew up "a geeky, Canadian Jewish girl from a dysfunctional family."

Along the way, she was treated badly by the cool set and suffered from minimal fashion sense, even as she relentlessly pursued a career in fashion journalism — propelled, she said, by her insecurities.

At Cosmopolitan and Glamour, she did not take maternity leaves, setting a whole new standard for pregnant editors. "I'm not embarrassed to say I was reading proofs in the delivery room," she writes.

If her experience at Glamour has not permanently shut Ms. Fuller out of ever working at Condé Nast again, perhaps a dig in the book at Ms. Wintour will.

Ms. Wintour, she writes, "supposedly once said that a woman should carry only a small clutch bag because a shoulder strap ruins the line of the clothes."

Ms. Fuller ignored the small-bag dictum. "I'd call my on-the-way-to-work look more Ellis Island than Fifth Avenue," she wrote. "I have more important ways to spend my time in the morning than agonizing over my choice of tote."

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