I could have told you this was coming. Gruner + Jahr, the publishing arm of the German media giant Bertelsman, repackaged the failing 127-year-old McCalls magazine around the actress and comedienne Rosie O’Donnell. Rosie — host of a popular daytime chat show — appeared to be pretty involved (or as involved as a daily talk show host can be) in setting the tone for a new-ish kind of women’s magazine.
About a year in, Rosie ditches the TV show, comes out of the closet and seemingly stops taking her meds. She and G+J had some very public arguments about the direction of the magazine and the hiring of a new editor.
Finally, today, Rosie quit. The magazine, apparently, will fold. G+J, which entrusted a century-old title to her, is fit to be tied, and the vigor of its memo goes well beyond the “shocked, shocked” tone that one might have expected given the slow-motion nature of this crash.
[Later: the NYPost, whose coverage of the magazine industry is excellent, has this story about the folding. Must have been some morning. Note also the comments of Martin Walker, a highly clueful consultant who rarely speaks publicly.]
Giving McCalls to Rosie was a desperate move, tied to the popularity of someone in an industry evanescent by its very nature. That the arrangement blew up should not be a surprise to anyone.
Now the lawyers will get richer.