MEDIA PROFILE: Contents trades glossiness for raw look at stars oftomorrow

It might be located in Savannah, GA, but Contents has its finger on the pulse of New York and Hollywood, looking at the worlds of art, fashion, and entertainment through a hipster's eyes.

It might be located in Savannah, GA, but Contents has its finger on the pulse of New York and Hollywood, looking at the worlds of art, fashion, and entertainment through a hipster's eyes.

Improbably rooted in Savannah, GA, Contents magazine is dripping with metropolitan attitude. The eight-year-old bimonthly is fast becoming a must-have accessory for high-flying fashion victims on both coasts.

The magazine's laconic, personality-driven style, oversized type, uncoated stock, and dressed-to-the-nines format have won it comparisons to Detour and Flaunt, the sibling bibles of Angeleno hipsterdom. Like them, Contents was influenced heavily by Andy Warhol's Interview, but editorial director Mark Thomas says Contents lacks the exclusive youth focus of style rivals, catering to a somewhat older audience and mixing it up with the old masters of visual culture, in addition to the young bloods.

Contents was a sleepy Southern literary title, but saw sales jump sharply in 1997, when Keanu Reeves graced the cover. The title quickly shifted its gaze to the glitz of Hollywood and New York's fashion elite. "We realized (Southern Gothic writer) Flannery O'Connor was dead, and Hollywood was still alive, says Thomas. "The next cover was Jude Law, right before he broke into stardom in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

Today, Contents boasts a circulation of 97,000, with three-quarters of sales at newsstands, and a readership of 518,000 - half of that concentrated in LA and New York. The readership is young, with a median age of 29 and income of $85,000, and is evenly divided between men and women. Additionally, the title distributes 7,500 complimentary copies to opinion leaders in film, fashion, media, advertising, and events PR.

The magazine is divided into four sections, starting with Moment, which features lavish photography of five or so celebrity writers, fashion designers, and movie stars, each accompanied by a short Q&A. Actress Michelle Rodriguez of The Fast and the Furious fame and hip-hop writer Nelson George are among the luminaries featured in the current issue. New showcases up-and-coming talent and hungry young stars throughout the arts, such as Spider-Man star James Franco, who features in the fall New segment. Portfolio features excerpts from soon-to-be-released photo books by famed shutterbugs such as Anderson and Low's upcoming collection, "Athletes and Gymnasts. Legend features longer interviews with established celebs such as Gore Vidal or Kirk Douglas, along with exclusive photography. Finally, at the back of the book, Contents clues its readers in on the media flavors of the month with Reel Time, a film digest; Book Rate, which is book reviews; and Sound Check, which contains music reviews.

Interviews may be written by any member of the editorial staff, which includes New York editor Lisa Raden, editor-at-large Laren Stover, arts editor Jean-Marie Donot, and contributing editors Casey Wyn Dooley and Amy Swift. Thomas prefers phone calls, and recommends that PR pros time their pitches two months ahead of publication date. The magazine closes a month before it hits newsstands, "but I always leave a little room for that late-breaking story, says Thomas.

Contents is particularly keen on exclusive profiles of emerging talents, who have given it a reputation for prescient star-spotting. PR pro Brian Garrido placed one such client, Peter Facinelli, on the cover ahead of his 2000 debut with Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito in The Big Kahuna. "He was starring next to two very established actors, and I couldn't get him on the cover of Vanity Fair, says Garrido. "Contents, then just starting out as well, took him, and was easy to work with."

Since then, Garrido, now VP at LA-based Burditch Marketing Communications, has pitched Contents a story on upmarket interior and furniture design brand Plantation. "Pitches should be for people ages 25-45, who are hip and have a sense of style, says Garrido. "It's geared toward a smart, affluent crowd that can afford to purchase it off the newsstand, from yuppies, buppies, guppies, and everything in between."

The title has an editorial calendar available upon request, and annual issues include Naked, which features images of nudes by top photographers; Babylon's Youth, which showcases the title's top 12 young talents; Fashion Fables, a collection of fashion-centric pictorial storytelling; and Holiday, a year-end issue that runs in December.

Thomas says his street-smart book is growing like kudzu down in the wilds of Savannah. The title moved from a quarterly to a bimonthly this year, despite the ad slump and its unlikely location. "It keeps us honest, says Thomas. "We can see the forest for the trees out here."

Address 18 East Macon Street,
Savannah, GA 31401
Tel/Fax (912) 447-0200/0660
Editorial director Mark Thomas
New York editor Lisa Raden
Editor-at-large Laren Stover
Arts editor Jean-Marie Donot
Books editor Tobin Levy
Films editor Tom Cunha
Music editor Jessica Hundley

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