Memo Pad: Tony blair's African Adventure... Filtering Out... Everyman, Everywhere...

Tony Blair, whose days as British prime minister are numbered, has been pilloried by the British press this week for his five-day trip to Africa.

DRIVER'S SEAT: The future of biker ace Valentino Rossi could be in the editor's chair rather than at the wheel of the new F1 Ferrari, as many speculate. The June issue of GQ Italy that hits newsstands on Saturday was partly edited by the seven-time winner of the MotoGP championship.

"He is the Italian superstar of the moment; he is brilliant and creative, so we wanted something more than an interview to express his personality," said Michele Lupi, editor in chief of the Condé Nast Italia monthly.

Rossi was immediately supplied with a Condé Nast mailbox address and letterhead stationery. For the cover image, Rossi picked photographer David Bailey to shoot his portrait and Rossi also appears in the gatefold in a group shot with the magazine's staff.

Rossi assigned articles based on his idols Michael Jordan, Steve McQueen and British World Champion MotoGP road racer Barry Sheene.

"I do not rule out repeating a similar experience. It depends on how much the jet set will appreciate our work," said Lupi, who joined GQ in November 2006.

During his tenure, Lupi has made changes at the Italian magazine to raise its profile in images and stories, which didn't quite match those of its U.S counterpart. In the first quarter of 2007, ad pages were up 13 percent compared with the same period the previous year. — Francesca Vuotto
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