While it was reported yesterday that National Enquirer publisher American Media, Inc. (AMI) was closing in on a deal to purchase Wenner Media’s Us Weekly, the organization’s recent history of last-minute unravellings of deals to purchase the magazine, one of which involved AMI, required an ain’t-over-till-it’s-over attitude.
AMI has announced a deal has been reached, one worth $100 million according to WWD, with AMI chief executive officer and chairman David Pecker telling WWD, “We are excited to bring one of the most distinctive and powerful media brands to AMI and are looking forward to continuing its great editorial standards its loyal and growing audience expects.”
The statement seems calibrated to assuage Us Weekly staff concerns about the purchase, which revolved around both staff cuts and a loosening of standards. While AMI is an experienced publisher of celebrity gossip mags, including Star, Ok! and Radar, those publications are considered downmarket. As Ken Doctor described it yesterday when he reported a deal was imminent, “The difference between Us Weekly and the AMI pubs? Us Weekly could nab interviews with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, while AMI might weave space aliens into stories about them.”
Whichever way Us Weekly’s editorial standards may or may not go, layoffs are a likely scenario.
There is another notable way in which Us Weekly’s new owner will be different from its preceding one. Wenner Media chairman Jann Wenner is liberal, while AMI chief executive David Pecker was an early and enthusiastic Trump supporter, with National Enquirer delivering one of Trump’s few newspaper endorsements during the 2016 election.
The deal was completed under advisement by Methuselah Advisors and legal advisement by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP on Wenner’s side, and legal advisement by Cole Schotz P.C. on AMI’s side.