'OK' Shakeup: Brownridge Follows EIC Out the Door

OK! Magazine In a sure sign of the magazine's financial woes, General Manager Kent Brownridge is leaving OK! just days after Editor in Chief Susan Toepfer was shown the door, per the New York Post, which first reported the news on Friday. The news is the latest reversal for celebrity magazine titles, which defied gravity in 2007 but were brought back to earth last year.

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.

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