MEDIA PROFILE: LA Confidential sets out to prove that it's morethan just Talk

LA Confidential looks to succeed with a combination of other titles' strengths and a unique focus on society and style. And an "unusual responsiveness

LA Confidential looks to succeed with a combination of other titles' strengths and a unique focus on society and style. And an "unusual responsiveness

to PR pitches is part of that formula.

Talk magazine may have closed shop, but investor Miramax is back in the publishing business with another go at celebrity allure: LA Confidential.

But while the studio has put some bucks behind the new venture from the founders of Gotham, Hamptons, and Miami-centric Ocean Drive, editor-in-chief Jason Oliver Nixon says cross-promotional content isn't on the calendar: "They have a very small percentage, but not like Talk where there is more synergy. There is no editorial relationship,

he promises.

Confidential - which debuted last month - did take some of its premiere issue content from a cancelled Talk Oscars issue, however. Guest-edited by Roger Friedman, the magazine featured Gwyneth Paltrow on the cover and interviews with Judi Dench and Sissy Spacek. Under Nixon's leadership, future books will keep that celebrity focus, while adding in broader elements of society and style meant to appeal to Los Angeles' young, hip, and affluent.

"I look at the magazine I do as a dinner party,

explains Nixon. "I want it to be the topics you would cover at one: Homes, food, fashion, lifestyle and culture.

That also leaves room for local coverage of restaurants, clubs, and travel destinations.

The magazine is the brainchild of Jason Binn and Randy Schindler, New York entrepreneurs with a string of niche magazine successes. LA Confidential is their bid to expand to the West Coast, while still tapping into the same demographic - which Gotham's website describes as "loyal, wealthy, sophisticated and influential."

While LA Confidential's readership is too new to be measured, Gotham's demographics provide a clear guide on who the magazine is targeting. Readership is split fairly evenly between male and female, (46% men, 54% women), and the majority (41%) are between 25 and 34. About three quarters report an income of more than $100,000, and 65% collect "antiques, sculptures, photography, and/or paintings."

Those statistics have helped cultivate a list of advertisers that includes Bentley, Cartier, and Rolex alongside trendy companies such as Asia de Cuba restaurant and the Chateau Marmont hotel. Pitches need to expand that high-life angle - more along the lines of the best place to purchase caviar than the best burger under $10 bucks. "Our niche is so targeted.

It's a very high-end niche,

says Nixon. "We are able to offer a product that is attuned to the wants and needs of that demographic. I like to give a lot of icing, rounded out with a lot of depth too."

The thick glossy will be distributed free in high-end hotels, boutiques, and restaurants. It will also be available on newsstands and by subscription.

That leaves some PR people skeptical about its editorial integrity: "If your client is an advertiser you will get much, much bigger coverage," claims one person who's placed articles in Gotham.

For now, Confidential is a quarterly publication, with plans to go monthly in 2003. The next issue is slated for September, with pitches still being accepted.

Currently, the magazine is written and produced out of Gotham's New York offices, but Nixon plans on hiring an LA staff in the coming months - as well as splitting his time between the coasts to continue his role as the head man for Gotham and Hamptons.

Because of the current lack of local staff, all pitches should be sent to Nixon - who prefers hard-copy mail or faxes, although some PR pros report success with e-mails. Nixon is especially interested in hearing from PR people representing LA's movers and shakers - celebrities, socialites, and dealmakers. "Access is key for me,

he says.

Nixon's magazines also have a reputation for being on the cutting edge of trends and for giving lots of play to party coverage. "They really like to have the jump on something,

says Linda Harris Keys of NY-based SGPR, who has successful pitched Gotham on behalf of fashion and charity clients. She adds that the magazine group likes exclusives and tie-ins to events, and will accept artwork. Louise O'Brien of NY-based KWE Associates adds that the staff is "unusually responsive

to pitches whether they like them or not, and Nixon is "very nice and conversational

to deal with.

Each issue will also feature the house of a rich and famous type, as well as a "scandal

piece or a "player in their environment.

But Nixon, who describes the editorial tone as "drips and drops of W, Tattler, and plenty of Vanity Fair,

is open to any good idea.

"I am not about limiting myself in any way. If my demographic is interested in something, I'm going to cover it,

he says.

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