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Fishbowl Five With Kat Kinsman, Editor-in-Chief of Tasting Table

Unbeige - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 18:07


The first thing you notice when you head to is — as it should be — the food. Your eye immediately falls on and lingers over the site’s scroll of photos rotating through verdant swirls of pasta, pies resting on generous portions of whipped cream and perfectly seared steaks, all taken in house. As robust as the site is, the roots of Tasting Table are not Web-based but email-based. From its 2008 launch as a newsletter, the brand didn’t take long to grow its audience. With well over a million subscribers today and a reputation as an authority on restaurants and recipes, always carefully and conscientiously vetted by staff, Tasting Table’s ambitions are widening accordingly.

Editor-in-chief Kat Kinsman arrived in November, at a time when the organization has been expanding its presence, moving from an inbox-only phenomenon to a full-fledged Web destination. Kinsman is a bridge between two worlds, and her early thoughts on new content ideas for Tasting Table hint at an effort to merge where she came from to where she has landed. Her work at the helm of CNN’s Eatocracy blog found her chasing food stories with a harder-news edge, like the science behind ready-to-eat pizza produced for soldiers stationed overseas, or a salmonella-poisoning outbreak at a prison. Now, she finds herself heading an organization whose purpose it is to select and share the finest foods on offer across the country.

“I made sure that we’re still going to be able to hit on hunger and food justice and the not-so-lovely and Instagram-able side of the food world, because you can’t write about all this beauty and this indulgence… without paying attention to the fact that there are an awful lot of people who are not getting enough food. That balance is going to be interesting, but I have complete confidence that we can pull it off.”

When we caught up with Kinsman, not only was she in the first weeks of her new job, she was in the final few weeks of completing the manuscript for her first book, on the topic of anxiety. “I hope this book is going to help people realize they’re not alone, that they’re free to talk about mental health,” she told FishbowlNY.

We asked Kinsman about her frenetic first weeks and future plans for Tasting Table.

FBNY: You were brought on at a time when Tasting Table was looking to expand in a lot of different formats. What are you focusing on right now?

Kinsman: My bent has always been food news and culture and where that intersects from person to dish to farmer — where the human touch is in food. It’s a really great thing to be able to meld that with the very dish- and cooking- and chef-focused content they’re doing.

I’m going to come up with more regular series’ of content and define what those are going to be. People will be able to really become invested in particular franchises, whether it’s technique based, whether it’s people’s motivation for getting into food, whether it’s practical advice for getting the best possible restaurant experience you can. It’s going to have a lot of perspective to it, whether it is from the person making the food, the person serving the food, the person going out to eat the food.

[Tasting Table has] established such a tremendous look, such a tremendous visual feel of what the story is like, so we’re going to keep going with so much of that, double down possibly on that, and just figure out how we’re going to look to tell the stories. What I think I’m probably going to be doing is adding a little bit more personal connection to it, a little bit more fun narrative flow and see where we go from there.

FBNY: What has been your relationship with Tasting Table readers so far?

Kinsman: I’ve gotten to personally meet a lot of readers just over the past couple of weeks, introducing chefs and hosting dinners at the test kitchen, and that’s been a tremendous insight to actually physically get to sit down with readers over a great meal and hear what it is they love about Tasting Table.

These people are so fantastically passionate about what we’re doing. People have come up to me and said ‘I don’t go to a restaurant without checking to see what you guys have said.’ It’s really one of the first times I’ve met an audience that is so directly connected to the content.

I really value the fact that they trust us. So I want to listen to that and see what is working really well and resonating with them. They’ve been following those emails for a long time. I want to make the website more robust and somewhere they can really feel like they’re hanging out in our kitchen at a party of ours.

FBNY: You’d been a subscriber to Tasting Table before joining the staff. Are there things that, once you were on the other side, surprised you about the operation?

Kinsman: I had absolutely no idea the staff was as small as it is and that they do things in such a scrappy, wonderful way. I would look at those photographs, and drool on my phone. I assumed there was some sort of big production studio, that there was a dedicated room with a light setup. No. This team puts paper on a table, sets it up, lights it a little bit, shoots it back by the window — and they’re young and they’re talented and they’re driven and they’re executing all this stuff on such a beautiful, high-gloss, premium level. They’re just putting it together out of passion, out of skill, and making the most of what they can.

[The staff] is this onion that is being un-layered right now. Someone will say something, and it just opens this rabbit hole to who they are or what they do. I’ve been scheduling little meetings with them to sit down and say, ‘Let me know who you are, what you love to do, how can I help you tell more of the stories you want to tell.’

FBNY: What do you find to be the most challenging thing about covering food?

Kinsman: There’s so much of it. [At] CNN we [had] such a large scope of content. My job there was really interesting, especially since I  started doing all of these stories that had nothing to do with food. When I was there, it was a matter of covering all the different aspects of food because we would be doing everything from food-culture stories, talking to multigeneration farmers and the challenges they’re up against, to breaking news about food to whatever Gordon Ramsey happened to do that day. It’s easy to feel like you’re on a hamster wheel with that kind of news pace.

At Tasting Table, it’s been really cool to go back down to the dish level, which I’d actually missed, and branch out from that into the people around it and retraining myself about how I’m thinking about food. Over here, I have the chance to come at it from a proactive point of view. We’re not just flinching and reacting and bracing and then moving on to the next thing.

FBNY: What advice would you give people who want to go into food writing or food media in general?

Kinsman: Ask yourself what’s the story only you can tell, and really figure out what your point of view is going to be and bring that to as many pieces as you possibly can. Don’t be afraid to let you shine through. All the food writers I read are people who, I can start reading a piece, not even see the byline and know whose it is and that’s because they let a little bit of themselves into their writing without making the story about themselves necessarily. And that only comes from working really, really, really hard and trusting what you have to say.

And be a utility player. Be as flexible as humanly possibly. You need me to go profile this chef? Yes, of course I’ll go do that. You need me to call around to all of these different restaurants and see if they have a kale salad on the menu? Yes, go ahead and do that. Nobody can be above doing anything. So long as you can kind of do both of those parts, be a generalist and be specific, they’re going to find a place for you, somewhere.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Categories: News

NY Times, WSJ, WaPo Join Dutch Publishing Startup

Unbeige - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 17:30

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have all signed up for Blendle, a Dutch publishing startup. Blendle allows readers in the Netherlands to buy single articles and issues of newspapers and magazines, instead of having to purchase a subscription.

A single article costs around 20 cents, with publishers setting the price. Blendle readers can simply click a headline and their previously-entered credit card is charged. If the reader doesn’t enjoy the article, there’s even an option for a refund, as long as the readers explains why the article was unsatisfactory.

The Times is an investor in Blendle, so their deal was a no-brainer. However, Blendle is certainly more appealing now with its addition, as well as the Journal and WaPo.

Categories: News

Jay Penske Makes His First Major WWD Move

Unbeige - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 17:00

Starting in late April, the “D” in WWD will no longer stand for daily. Rather, it will be short for “digital.” Or, if you prefer, media disruption with a capital D.

Fairchild Fashion Media owner Jay Penske has been spending a great majority of his media-calendar time recently not on Deadline or Variety but rather WWD. And he has chosen to do with the 105-year-old fashion industry bible what he did not so long ago with his 110-year-old showbiz bible. From today’s announcement:

On April 29, the print edition of WWD will launch in a new weekly format – with global fashion and retail news, striking photography, analysis, features, profiles, opinions and spirited coverage of the rich social and cultural scene that revolves around this creative and essential sector. The final daily print edition will be delivered on April 24.

As part of the reconfiguration, WWD says it plays to add international bureaus this year in China and Brazil. In many ways, thanks to a recent “2011 traditional-style home” LA Times typo, everything old Penske touches these days is new again.

[Image via: Fairchild Summits]
Categories: News

Cover Battle: New York or Elle

Unbeige - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 16:38

Welcome back to another edition of FishbowlNY’s weekly Cover Battle. This round we have New York taking on Elle.


New York’s annual Best of New York issue features Broad City’s creators, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. Also, one really large sweatshirt and four extremely bright socks.

Keeping with the “extremely talented people” theme, Elle features Shailene Woodley. We honestly cannot decide which outfit is weirder, Woodley’s or Jacboson and Glazer’s.

So readers, which cover is better? You can vote, comment, or do both.

Which Cover is Better, New York or Elle?

Categories: News

Huff Post Adds Scott Conroy

Unbeige - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 16:13

The Huffington Post has named Scott Conroy senior political reporter, focusing on the 2016 presidential election. Conroy comes to Huff Post from RealClearPolitics, where he worked for the previous four years.

“Scott has already established himself as one of the more insightful reporters in politics,” said Sam Stein, senior politics editor for Huff Post, in an announcement. “But what makes us so excited about having him at the Huffington Post is the incredible versatility he brings to the job.”

Conroy said that he was “thrilled” and “excited” to join Huff Post. “And I can’t wait to try out the nap rooms,” he added.

Categories: News

Newsweek Celebrates One-Year Anniversary

Unbeige - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 15:10

B_VUMc3UwAARaCPWhen IBT Media purchased Newsweek from Barry Diller’s IAC in 2013, the print version was dead and buried. Things were so bad that Diller even bluntly stated “I wish I had not bought Newsweek. It was a mistake.”

Despite the bleak outlook, IBT Media was undeterred. The company relaunched Newsweek in March of that year, with a smaller circulation, a tighter focus and a higher cover price. It’s one year anniversary is this Saturday, March 14. We can’t think a more fitting cover.

At first, things didn’t go as planned. Zombie Newsweek’s debut issue, featuring a cover story on the man who (allegedly) founded Bitcoin, was widely criticized. Jim Impoco, Newsweek’s editor-in-chief, saw the positive and the negative.

“It helped in that it was a big, big story that got lots of attention,” Impoco told FishbowlNY. “It hurt because it became a social media punchline. Our view of the story hasn’t changed.”

Newsweek’s strategy of sticking to its guns paid off. Literally. Impoco told The New York Post that Newsweek is profitable and expects to add roughly 50 additional staffers by next year.

Give IBT Media credit for its stubborness, but also for understanding what, exactly, the new Newsweek is. “We’re not pretending to be a newspaper,” explained Impoco. “We’ve got a website for that. The print magazine is more of a premium product now, focusing on investigative journalism.”

As for the future, Impoco remains optimistic. He said that the digital age led to an “overcorrection,” and that there are plenty of people who love both the Internet and holding a magazine — perhaps, like Newsweek — in their hands.

“Reading a print magazine does not make you an Internet denier,” said Impoco. “Print is a good user experience, and it’s not backlit so it won’t keep you up at night (we have apps for that). Besides, we did listicles before Ben Smith was born.”

Categories: News

Jess Cagle: ‘I Never Clashed with Matt Bean’

Unbeige - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 14:45

Our former TVNewser colleague Jordan Chariton, now firmly entrenched as a media reporter with TheWrap, has a very interesting Q&A today with Rich Battista and Jess Cagle. It’s the pair’s first joint media conversation since Battista joined Time Inc. as executive VP and president of People and EW, alongside the editorial director for those flagship brands, Jess Cagle.

A lot is covered in the conversation, including the value of celebrity weddings to People and the future of EW. Chariton also elicited some interesting comments from Cagle about reported clashes with former EW editor Matt Bean:

“I think that maybe I didn’t handle the transition as well as I should have and maybe I should have announced it all earlier… The narrative became: \"I clashed with Matt Bean and he was ousted.\" I never clashed with Matt Bean, I’m still working very closely with him in his new role because he’s working on native content and all kinds of things for Time Inc. with every brand.”

“He’s an incredibly talented guy, and I’m sad that I won’t get to see what he will do with EW because I thought he had fantastic ideas for it. But I need him in this other role and the company needs him in this role. And Henry Goldblatt is fantastic; he was at EW a long time, he really understands the audience and content, he invented the \"Bullseye,\" which is one of the most popular franchises that EW has. He’s already a great EW editor in his own way and he will be great in this role in his own way.”

Read the rest of the Q&A here.

[Image via: TheWrap]
Categories: News

The Hitchens Prize Honors Christopher Hitchens

Unbeige - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 14:30

The Dennis and Victoria Ross Foundation — a nonprofit that encourages public debate of current events through support of new artists in music, film, theater, and more — has created a prize to honor the late Christopher Hitchens.

The Hitchens Prize will be given to “an author or journalist whose work reflects a commitment to free expression and inquiry,‭ ‬a range and depth of intellect,‭ ‬and a willingness to pursue the truth without regard to personal or professional consequence.”

The foundation is accepting nominations now through April 13. The winner will receive $50,000 and be honored at a yet-to-be-determined location in New York.

Categories: News

FishbowlNY Newsstand: Your Morning at a Glance

Unbeige - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 14:00

NY_DN NY_NYT WSJ tumblr_nl377vIM9p1rv4aqro1_540

(Images: Newseum)

Categories: News

Linked: MTV Movie Awards Logos

Brand new - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 13:12
All the MTV Movie Awards logos since 1992 (shown) when it first aired. As a bonus read about the 2015 logo here.... Armin
Categories: News

Morning Media Newsfeed: AP Sues State Department | First Look Names Bloom President

Unbeige - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 13:08
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Associated Press Sues U.S. State Department to Force Release of Clinton Emails (HuffPost / AP)
The Associated Press on Wednesday sued the State Department to force the release of email correspondence and government documents from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Bloomberg Politics The suit came a day after the potential presidential candidate said she wouldn’t consent to an outside review of her private server where the mail was stored. The news service said it sought Clinton’s email under the Freedom of Information Act in 2013 and the State Department didn’t disclose that the former secretary of state used a private email account. CNN The lawsuit — filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia — said the State Department “should be compelled to abide by the law, perform reasonable searches and promptly release all of the requested records.” Last week the news wire said it was considering legal action to force the release of the records. The Washington Times Going straight to the heart of the Clinton email controversy, the AP said despite five years of questions, the State Department never said it didn’t have control over Clinton’s emails, suggesting that officials were breaking the spirit of open-records when they said they were conducting searches for records. Clinton on Tuesday confirmed that she had used her own private email, set up on her own server, during her four years as secretary. Despite using her private account, she said she generally tried to do government business by emailing others on their official accounts, so she believed that her communications were stored. The Washington Post / Erik Wemple The State department is reviewing 30,000-odd business-related emails that Clinton culled from her private archive following her tenure as secretary of state; they were turned over to State in December. Those emails that qualify for release to the public will be placed online, the department has indicated.

Michael Bloom Named President of First Look Media (FishbowlNY)
Michael Bloom has been named president and general manager of First Look Media. Bloom most recently served as the founder of Woodshed Ventures, a media and technology advisory company. Capital New York At First Look, Bloom will “support and build our existing publications while creating entirely new products and services to expand and grow the business,” CEO Pierre Omidyar wrote. Bloom is the former chief executive of Guardian News & Media, North America, and has also served in senior roles for Wenner Media, MTV Networks/Viacom and AOL. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Bloom’s appointment comes just weeks after senior editor Ken Silverstein left the organization due to what he called “epic managerial incompetence.” Months earlier, writer Matt Taibbi left the organization, prompting First Look’s writers to write a scathing report about Omidyar’s failure to turn “high-minded, abstract principles” into a cohesive editorial structure. Poynter / MediaWire Bloom’s appointment was prompted in part by a desire to have a leader in First Look’s New York base of operations, First Look Media spokesperson Gina Lindblad said in an email. Authority over editorial decisions remains with the editors of the company’s publications; both Bloom and John Temple, president of audience and products, will report to Omidyar. In addition to Bloom’s appointment, First look plans to add to its leadership ranks in New York and elsewhere, Lindblad said.

The Guardian Backtracks Privacy Allegations Against Whisper (Mashable)
The newspaper behind a series of serious privacy allegations against anonymous sharing app Whisper has backed away from many of its claims. In a statement, The Guardian reveals Whisper has “provided further information” to the publication since it first reported the stories last fall. WSJ / Digits The U.K. newspaper, which had alleged that Whisper violated users’ privacy, added a paragraphs-long clarification at the top of a main article in the series. It also added a link to the clarification to other articles in the series and removed a commentary from its website. The Guardian’s clarification blunted its earlier reports, which had raised broader questions about so-called anonymous messaging apps that promise users the ability to post without revealing their identity. TechCrunch The juiciest part of the Guardian’s stories was the suggestion that Whisper tracks users’ locations even if they opt out of being tracked and that it was sharing that information with the U.S. Department of Defense. Whisper, however, denied that it was tracking users after they opted out, aside from using IP addresses to establish a very rough location. And while it acknowledged that it was working with the military \"to lower suicide rates,\" it said it was not sharing any personally identifiable information.

Nielsen Reports Significant Increases in Households That Own, Use Mobile Devices in Fourth Quarter 2014 (THR)
Significantly more households have and are using mobile devices, including smartphones, as of the end of 2014 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to Nielsen’s fourth quarter 2014 total audience report. Variety According to Nielsen’s findings, 40.3 percent of homes in the U.S. have access to an SVOD service as of Q4 of 2014, which is an increase from the 36 percent reported in Q4 of 2013. Over the same period, the average adult over 18 years old watched four hours and 51 minutes of live TV, down from five hours and four minutes in the same time frame in 2013, and five hours and 10 minutes in Q4 of 2012. Deadline Traditional TV viewing stayed steady with the year before. Compared to Q4 2013, that manner of viewing dipped just 4.1 percent to 149:14 hours a month on average. CNNMoney Some families subscribe to Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus, but most have just one of the services: Netflix. In fact, Netflix is in 36 percent of all American TV households, while Amazon is in 13 percent and Hulu Plus is in 6.5 percent, according to Nielsen.

AP Announces 2016 Political Team (FishbowlNY)
The Associated Press has announced its 2016 political team, which is led by political editor David Scott. Lisa Lerer joins the AP as a political reporter with a focus on Hillary Clinton. Lerer comes to the AP from Bloomberg, where she most recently served as a report for Bloomberg Politics. The AP’s White House correspondent Julie Pace will add campaign coverage to her role. Poynter / MediaWire Some other team members include: Tom Beaumont, a national political writer, who will report on Jeb Bush. Phil Elliott, a reporter, who will cover Republican presidential hopefuls in the senate. And Cal Woodward, a lead writer and reporter, who will help edit political coverage.

Paramount Pictures Undergoes Round of Layoffs (THR)
Paramount Pictures laid off between 30 and 40 employees across all its departments on Wednesday as part of parent company Viacom’s ongoing restructuring. Deadline Paramount isn’t the only part of Viacom hit by cuts Wednesday, as staff at kids-friendly Nickelodeon were informed. \"As announced, we are in the process of restructuring and there will be employees leaving the company as a result,\" a Nickelodeon spokesperson said Wednesday. \"We are so grateful for the contributions they have made to Viacom.\" Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman told investors earlier this week that the layoffs and restructuring initiatives should save about $250 million a year. Variety Dave Sirulnick, one of the chief backers of MTV’s news and documentary efforts over the past three decades, is leaving the network in the wake of the cost-cutting efforts, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Global Box Office Grows Only 1 Percent in 2014 (THR)
China has become the first market outside of North America to see box office revenue cross $4 billion, according to the Motion Picture Association of America’s annual report. Deadline Global box office sales hit $36.4 billion in 2014, a 1 percent increase, with $4.8 billion coming from China. Last year was the first time revenues from Asia surpassed other regions as defined by the trade group. Domestic sales at $10.4 billion were down 5 percent vs. 2013, due in part to a 2 percentage point drop in 3D sales to $1.4 billion. Some 229.7 million people in North America went to a movie theater at least once, comparable to 2013. Total tickets sold came to 1.27 billion, down 6 percent — a drop equal to the decline in per capita sales to 3.7. NYT Per-capita sales among those younger than 40 fell. The sharpest year-to-year drop, almost 20 percent, was among those 25 to 39. In one sign of industry growth, the number of films released last year by major studios and their subsidiaries rose for the first time since 2006, to 136 from 114 in 2013.

Columbia Journalism School to Reduce Enrollment (FishbowlNY)
Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism is reducing enrollment and cutting six staffers. The decline in students will take place over the next few years. NYT The job cuts do not include faculty positions, said Elizabeth Fishman, the school’s associate dean for communications. Applications to Columbia’s journalism school surged after the recession in 2008, which led the university to expand enrollment. The school now intends to \"return to a smaller student body size,\" Steve Coll, the dean of the school, wrote, closer to what he called \"its historical norm.\" There are 234 full-time students in the core degree program, Fishman said.

Leslie Moonves: Showtime Streaming Service Coming in ‘Not Too Distant Future’ (Variety)
CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves has made it clear that Showtime is poised to join HBO in offering a standalone online streaming subscription service \"in the not too distant future.\" LostRemote CBS’ subscription service is doing well, according to Moonves, who spoke at the Deutsche Bank 2015 Media, Internet and Telecom Conference Wednesday morning. While he wouldn’t disclose an exact number, Moonves says the service is doing \"extremely well\" and has more users than Dish’s Sling. CBSN, their OTT for news, is also keeping its head above water.

FTC Targets DirecTV Over Advertised Discount Service (Re/code / Reuters)
U.S. regulators on Wednesday filed a complaint against satellite television provider DirecTV for what they called deceptive advertising for a 12-month discounted service that did not make it clear consumers’ costs would later rise. Variety The FTC contends that the advertisements fail to clearly disclose that the 12-month package requires a two-year contract, and that the cost increases by up to $45 per month in the second year. It also says that DirecTV does not clearly disclose that early cancellation fees of up to $480 apply if subscribers cancel before the end of the two years.

Verizon Inks AwesomenessTV Deal for 200-Plus Hours of Content (Variety)
Verizon, placing a big new bet in over-the-top video, has announced a multiyear deal with AwesomenessTV for more than 200 hours of original content to be available to wireless subscribers later this year.

Snapchat Is Raising Money From Alibaba at $15 Billion Valuation (Bloomberg)
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. plans to invest in Snapchat Inc., the mobile application for sending disappearing photos, at a valuation of $15 billion, people familiar with the situation said.

Jerry Springer, Harold Ford Jr. And The Designer Who Dressed Bryant Gumbel (FishbowlNY / Lunch)
We missed Sigourney Weaver by a day. Oh well. As much as we felt like heading to the beach Wednesday, the siren’s call of Michael’s beckoned, so we made our way to 55th and Fifth for our weekly lunch.

Vox Media Launches Entertainment Division, Signs With WME (THR)
Vox Media, which owns and operates a collection of seven editorial sites, is launching Vox Entertainment to build out its online video capabilities and talent partnerships.

Scripps, Journal Communications Shareholders Approve TV Merger, Print Spinoff (Variety)
The uncoupling of newspaper and television chains into separate operations continued Wednesday, as shareholders for E.W. Scripps Co. and Journal Communications approved a merger that creates separate TV and print companies.

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Categories: News

Noted: New Logo and Identity for NOW TV by venturethree

Brand new - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 12:20
(Est. 2012) "NOW TV is an internet television service owned by Sky plc. It was first announced in February 2012, and launched in the United Kingdom on 17 July 2012.[1] The service is available to watch via computer, various mobile devices, some game consoles and... Armin
Categories: News

Reviewed: New Logo and Identity for UNHCR Innovation by Hyperakt

Brand new - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 11:46
Launched in 2012, UNHCR Innovation is a group within the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that serves as a catalyst to "creatively address challenges faced by uprooted or stateless people worldwide" working collaboratively with its parent group that operates in... Armin
Categories: News

The Whimsical Street Art of Oakoak - Thu, 03/12/2015 - 00:00

French street artist Oakoak applies a playful pop culture touch to decaying urban environments in France and around the world.

Categories: News

Jerry Springer, Harold Ford Jr. and the Designer Who Dressed Bryant Gumbel

Unbeige - Wed, 03/11/2015 - 23:13

lunch at michaelsWe missed Sigourney Weaver by a day. Oh well. As much as we felt like heading to the beach today, the siren’s call of Michael’s beckoned, so we made our way to 55th and Fifth for our weekly Wednesday lunch. The scene was bustling with a smattering of famous faces (Jerry Springer and Harold Ford Jr.) among the media mavens and everything was decidedly more upbeat than it’s been all winter. It turns out spring may actually happen after all.

Diane Clehane and Joseph Abboud

Diane Clehane and Joseph Abboud

I was joined today by legendary menswear designer Joseph Abboud, who I first met several years ago when I was a fledgling reporter at People. I had been given, as my first assignment, the then-impossible task of landing an interview with Bryant Gumbel, who was not exactly feeling warm and fuzzy towards reporters at the time. After not having much success getting Bryant on the phone, I turned to calling his friends, Joseph among them. I had pretty much resigned myself to having to turn in a write-around when Joseph came to the rescue. After our chat, he told me he’d suggest that Bryant talk to me. And voilà ! I got the story.

When our mutual friend Judy Twersky suggested we all get together for lunch, I jumped at the chance, since it’s been years since I’ve seen Joseph. He arrived at the stroke of noon, looking as dapper as ever in a suit of his own design (gorgeous grey Italian cashmere) and it was as if we’d just spoken last week. “Italians do everything beautifully,” he said when I complimented him. “Their country is beautiful, the people are beautiful, the food is a amazing, but God wanted to prove they’re not divine, so they can’t sew on a button,” he told me with a laugh. “With our Italian partners we had a big problem with the buttons.” I knew we’d have plenty to talk about.

Joseph has always been incredibly warm and approachable — not exactly the qualities you find in abundance in the fashion business. A true gentleman, he’s a great supporter of fashion and the industry has returned the favor in kind. He was the first to be named Menswear Designer of the Year for two consecutive years by the Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA). On March 27, he’ll unveil his new flagship store on Madison Avenue, which will feature the Joseph Abboud Collection, as well as custom clothing in Zegna and Loro Piana fabrics, which will be made in his own factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts. “It’s an American Savile Row,” he told me. “This one of the most exciting times ever to be in the fashion industry.” It certainly is for Joseph. Having had his brand go through several incarnations (“In our world, survival is success”), he is now happily part of Men’s Wearhouse and couldn’t be happier. “A public company with a strategic vision for the future is the best place for a brand instead of with investment bankers who use you as a stock to trade.”

I was fascinated to learn that the menswear business is experiencing something of a renaissance, thanks to twentysomethings who’ve watched their fathers constantly underdress. “These guys are dressing up not because they need to, but because they want to.” With his decades in the business, Joseph says, “It’s about credibility and young thinking, but not about being young. The 25-year-old and the 55-year-old both need to know the same things about fashion.” When it comes to tapping into what the younger customers want, he laughingly told me that his two twentysomething daughters and their boyfriends provide an in-house focus group for any and all things related to millennials. “I get instant feedback. They’re plugged into everything!”

The company is relying heavily on television commercials (there’s also a social media campaign and blog) to promote the Joseph Abboud brand featuring Joseph, but he dismisses the notion that he’s a celebrity to the customer. In fact, he believes the whole concept of dressing celebrities has become “so diffuse” and, in menswear at least, doesn’t have the same impact it once did. He should know. Joseph was first introduced to a mass audience when he dressed Bryant Gumbel for the Olympics in 1988. (He dressed him for many years after that and for the record, thinks the BMW commercial Bryant did with his former “Today” show co-host Katie Couric, lampooning their cluelessness about the Internet in 1994, was very well done. “They both look great!”) Then Joseph went on to dress virtually every NFL sportscaster, including Bob Costas for fourteen years which, in turn, helped make him the go-to label for well-dressed men all over the country. He rightly believes it takes a lot more to earn customer loyalty these days. “There’s still a lot of nineties thinking around, but things have changed. The customer is very smart and wants to be treated with respect. It’s more about great service and a great product now.”

So perhaps there’s no better messenger than the designer himself to spread the word on his television show. Having done a few pilots for PBS year ago, Joseph told me he’s more focused on his brand, but he might be interested in doing a show for “real guys with information that applies to their real life,” if the right opportunity were to come along. He understands that the show would have to appeal to women, too. “Because women have a big influence on the way the men in their lives dress.” See, I told you he was a very smart man.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Producer Freddie Gershon

2. PR maven Maury Rogoff (sporting her signature stilettos) and fashionista Mickey Ateyeh

3. Casting director extraordinaire Bonnie Timmerman

4. Discovery ID’s Henry Schleiff and my Greenwich neighbor Jerry Springer

5. The early show: Harold Ford; Second seating: agent Wayne Kabak

6. Harold Holzer and Spencer Sharp

7. Marilyn Crawford

8. Producer John Hart

9. Michael Peterson (brother of Holly) and Michael Carlisle

11.  Author Pamela Keogh (long time no see!) and Adam Pincus enjoying their burgers

12. Moira Forbes

14. Brett Schenck of Hart Schaffner Marx, who stopped by our table to say hello to Joseph

15. Peter Price

16. Neil Lasher

17. Scott Singer

18. LAK PR CEO’s Lisa Linden and political consultant Eldin Villafane

20. Producer Joan Gelman

22. Aliya Sahari

23. Attorney Larry Meyer

24. Beverly Camhe

25. Noble Smith — What a great name!

27. Joseph Abboud, Judy Twersky and yours truly

81. Vogue‘s Ashley McDermott

Diane Clehane is a FishbowlNY contributor. Follow her on Twitter @DianeClehane. Send comments and corrections on this column to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.


Categories: News

Media Minutiae

Unbeige - Wed, 03/11/2015 - 22:00

TVNewser: Proof that reporting live is not easy — a journalist was mugged right before a live shot.

LostRemote: Adidas has the digital ad world on lockdown. For now.

GalleyCat: Javon Johnson’s A Letter to My Unborn Daughter is your must-watch video of the day.

Categories: News

Wanna Be the New CEO of Patch?

Unbeige - Wed, 03/11/2015 - 21:30

First, the good news. The umbrella home page for Patch looks better than anything we saw there during the AOL era. We’re talking crisp, clean highlighting of current content and an inviting black-and-white thumbnail grid that clicks through to so-called Star Patchers. The new Patch is also looking for reporters across New Jersey.

However, the Hale Global folks might have wanted to think through their grassroots framing of another presently vacant position. Somehow, this doesn’t have quite the right recruitment, headhunter feel:


Patch appears in many ways to have moved towards more of an Examiner model. But having inherited an operation that was doomed by overly aggressive expansion, it’s a minor media miracle for this place to still be Web live and hiring.

Categories: News

A Prescient Brian Williams Onion Story

Unbeige - Wed, 03/11/2015 - 20:30

TheOnionLogoWhen it comes to Brian Williams, The Onion has dropped the parody ball  A search of the site reveals a scant amount of post-scandal material and one certifiable chuckle.

However, as far as pre-scandal material goes, the site nailed it via a May 22, 2006 item that today reads spooky accurate and right on the unfunny money. Check out these snippets from \"Insecure Brian Williams Only One Who Doesn’t Trust Brian Williams For Latest News:\"

Williams, who has been hailed as the new dean of network news journalists by several prominent TV critics and attacked as a “giant phony” by his own mind…

“Last night, we explored the misappropriation of federal funds during our ‘Fleecing Of America’ segment,” Williams said. “Do you know what would’ve made a better subject? ‘Brian Williams: The Sham To End All Shams.'”…

Nightly News intern Jared Kampmann echoed [makeup artist Eve] Hodel’s observation. “This morning, he asked me if his piece on the looming threat of war with Iran was ‘Brokaw-worthy,'”said Kampmann.

In terms of a possible next Williams item slant, how about NBC announcing that it has traded him to the Jets?

Categories: News

Oprah is Stanford’s Next Rathbun Visiting Fellow

Unbeige - Wed, 03/11/2015 - 18:50

StanfordOfficeReligiousLifeIt’s an impressive list.

So far, the five luminaries who have visited Stanford University as Rathbun Fellows are the Dalai Lama, Sandra Day O’Connor, former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz, Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman and cartoonist Garry Trudeau. To that honor roll you can now add Oprah:

Oprah Winfrey, a global media leader, philanthropist, producer and actress, will offer her personal reflections on life when she delivers “Harry’s Last Lecture on a Meaningful Life” at 7 p.m. Monday, April 20, in Stanford Memorial Church.

The lecture honors the late Stanford Law School professor Harry Rathbun, who delivered his renowned “Last Lecture” annually from the 1930s through the 1950s.

Categories: News

Michael Bloom Named President of First Look Media

Unbeige - Wed, 03/11/2015 - 18:35

Michael Bloom has been named president and general manager of First Look Media. Bloom most recently served as the founder of Woodshed Ventures, a media and technology advisory company.

Previously Bloom served two years as CEO of Guardian News & Media, North America. He also had stints as chief digital officer of Wenner Media and VP of AOL Products.

Bloom starts this week and will be based in New York.

Categories: News


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