Brownridge and Toepfer both had remarkably short tenures: Brownridge joined publisher Northern + Shell in September, and Toepfer in October. The pair were appointed to help reverse the steep decline in newsstand sales at the magazine--which, like other celebrity weeklies, depends heavily on single-copy sales.
From a high of around 700,000 in summer 2008, OK! fell to a sobering 300,000 by fall. Northern + Shell is also firing almost all of the editors recruited by Brownridge and Toepfer.
In fairness, the pair had a difficult job, as Northern + Shell also mandated big cost cuts that scaled back editorial budgets for exclusive celebrity photos and scoops, the premium content of the genre. In a sign of impending trouble, Brownridge tried to cut costs by switching to double issues in December and January. He also slashed the cover price from $3.49 to $2.99, to no avail.
After three quarters of increases, in the fourth quarter of 2008, the celebrity weekly's ad pages fell 5.9%. That compares with a drop of 13.8% at Star, 21% at Us Weekly, 23.6% at Entertainment Weekly, 23.7% at In Touch Weekly and 25.5% at People.