Taking up prime real estate on the cover of In Touch Weekly, plastered right over the ''first photos of Baby Jayden!'' is its price: a very slender and alluring $1.99. Compare that to the bloated $3.49 cover price of its tabloid great aunt, Us Weekly, and in the celeb gossip world, you suddenly have a magazine's entire reason for being.
So does saving $1.50 get you the Taco Bell version of celeb dish, compared with Us's Nobu? Not exactly. In terms of copying its more established competitor's trademark spreads, In Touch is shameless -- like a monk in the Middle Ages intricately copying an illumination. In Touch boats a fashion photo feature called ''Who Wore it Better?'' while Us started the craze with ''Who Wore it Best?'' The results of Us's polls of the week -- ''readers of USMagazine.com weigh in''-- showed that 65% were on Cameron Diaz's side in her split with Justin, whereas, when In Touch readers ''answer[ed] the burning questions of the week,'' 68% were on Justin's side.
So while their readers might be in parallel universes, the magazines are in lockstep. Each offers a version of ''Katie's break- out plan'' in which she's going to go back to work, both intimating that she can free herself from Tom because there's a new alien in her life -- Posh Spice.
You'll recall that during her tenure at Us, Bonnie Fuller came up with ''Stars -- They're Just Like Us!,'' a complex multi-page photo investigation of the mundane errands that celebrities occasionally run, and it set the industry on its head. (Well, mostly it gave magazines the excuse to run copious and otherwise unprintable paparazzi photos of stars in their UGG boots.)
Not to be outdone, In Touch offers ''Stars are Real, Too!" In their latest issues, each mag includes a photo of Sharon Stone carrying six large coffees to go -- say it ain't so! However, only Us has the ''They Buy Water In Bulk!'' picture of Jessica Biel pushing her 72 liters in a shopping cart -- which I much preferred over In Touch's ''They Celebrate At Work,'' which shows "Extra" host Tanika Ray at her on-set birthday party. That looks to me like too much of an obvious favor -- a celebrity news magazine covering a celebrity TV news show's inside celebration.
In the last ten years, the tabloidization and celebrification of culture has grown as exponentially as the new media outlets that cover them. And let's face it: Readers are not buying these magazines to see stars in their glory, they're looking for the fashion failures, the hair disasters, the catfights between Janice and Tyra. If anything, In Touch errs on the side of being too nice: this week, only Us delivered a fantasy photo spread of what Jennifer Aniston's new nose job might look like (Including pasting Angelina's teeny little nose on Jen's face!) But In Touch will probably have something similar next week. If you're the type who can't get enough of ''who Scarlett is really dating,'' then I say it's $2 well spent.
Published By: Bauer Publishing