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Us Weekly, which has long competed with People magazine for Hollywood lifestyle scoops, has been snapped up by the owner of the Trump-friendly gossip paper National Enquirer. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
In a deal that marks a big shake-up in the celebrity magazine world, Wenner Media, the owner of Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal, has sold Us Weekly to American Media Inc.
“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,” AMI CEO and chairman David Pecker said Wednesday in a statement.
“We are enormously proud of the evolution and tremendous accomplishments of Us Weekly, a brand that has continually defined celebrity news,” said Gus Wenner, head of digital of Wenner Media and son of the magazine company’s owner and founder Jann Wenner.
The Us editorial employees — around 45 staffers in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles — are expected to reinterview for their jobs as early as Friday.
The acquisition is somewhat surprising after multiple reports in the past week stated that Los Angeles Times owner Tronc had been positioned to buy the magazine. Tronc did not respond to a request for comment.
Us Weekly is currently led by Mike Steele, who has served as editor-in-chief since 2009. The magazine has been owned by Wenner since 1986.
The deal allows AMI, led by Trump backer Pecker, to consolidate the print market for store checkout stand publications. It also owns celebrity-oriented Star, Soap Opera Digest and OK! magazines along with the Enquirer and Radar Online.
Us Weekly says it has a rate base circulation of 1,950,000, while Star has 750,000 and OK! magazine has 475,000, per AMI figures.
AMI has also been reportedly interested in snapping up the news website that used to be the New York Observer paper, which had been owned by White House advisor Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President Donald Trump, since 2006.
Trump, who recently labeled much of the mainstream press the “enemy of the people,” has singled out AMI exec Pecker (who he once lauded as “brilliant”) for praise.
In the past year, AMI’s National Enquirer has doubled down on pro-Trump headlines on its covers, to the point that it has been compared to “Pravda on the Checkout Line,” a reference to Russia’s state-backed paper.
For Wenner Media, this is the latest in a series of moves as it deals from the legal fallout from the retracted 2014 Rolling Stone “A Rape on Campus” story that resulted in a defamation verdict in court.
In late September, the company sold a 49 percent stake in Rolling Stone to Singapore’s Bandlab in a bid to further its overseas growth. A little over a month later, Wenner Media debuted a web-only brand, Glixel, as a stand-alone site covering the videogame industry.
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