— Rosemary Feitelberg
— Rosemary Feitelberg
FUNDING SQUEEZE: Two beleaguered media companies are facing pressure from creditors. American Media Inc., publishers of Shape, the National Enquirer and Star, has exactly one week to make an interest payment worth about $20 million to bondholders that is past due; missing this payment could result in a default on all of AMI’s debt. In early November, the company deferred its decision to make the payment in respect to its 10.25 percent senior subordinated notes due in 2009. The 30-day grace period ends Dec. 1.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported late Friday that Quadrangle Partners is in talks with lenders over restructuring Alpha Media Group, home of Maxim and Blender. Quadrangle Partners acquired the company in 2007 for a reported $250 million, but the company is said to have borrowed more than half the funds to close the deal. The private equity fund has yet to yield large returns on its investment; since Alpha’s inception, the company has folded Stuff magazine into Maxim and lost its founding chief executive officer, Kent Brownridge. Ad pages at both titles have also been soft. Maxim reported a 10 percent decline in pages, to 852, while music magazine Blender carried just 534 pages through 2008, a 30 percent loss of pages, according to Media Industry Newsletter. Quadrangle executives did not return calls for comment by press time.
— Amy Wicks and Stephanie D. Smith
CAN THEY SHOOT A CELEB GETTING OUT OF THE CAR?: Britain’s tabloids and celebrity magazines are still digesting Sienna Miller’s winning of 53,000 pounds, or $78,000, in damages from a London picture agency, the first claim to use the country’s 1997 Protection from Harassment Act against paparazzi. Observers speculate Miller’s pioneering case could result in more celebrities taking similar action — bad news for the nation’s notorious tabloids and celebrity magazines. The U.K. already has some of the toughest libel laws in the world.
Last month, Miller brought legal action against the agency, Big Pictures, and its owner Darryn Lyons, at London’s High Court, for what Miller’s lawyers called “a campaign of harassment since June 2008.” The case was due to be heard at the High Court early next year, before the two parties reached a settlement. As part of the settlement, which was approved by London’s High Court Friday, the agency has undertaken “not to pursue or follow [Miller], nor to doorstep [Miller] at her home or the home of her family.”
Miller has also agreed as part of the settlement that photographers may reasonably be present when she is entering or leaving a nightclub, bar or restaurant, is on a public footpath or highway — as long as she is not visibly upset or distressed — and when she’s attending a red-carpet event. Miller won 37,000 pounds, or $54,000, in damages, plus legal costs, regarding her court action for harassment and invasion of privacy, and a further 16,000 pounds, or $23,000 in damages, plus legal costs, regarding a previous court action against Big Pictures for invasion of privacy over a series of intrusive photos the agency procured and syndicated in July.
— Nina Jones
ELLE STAR: Danny Boyle’s new movie “Slumdog Millionaire” has received rave reviews, and Elle for one isn’t wasting any time in nabbing one of its Indian stars. The magazine is said to have shot female lead Freida Pinto in Los Angeles this past weekend. Pinto and her male co-star, 18-year-old Dev Patel, made the rounds in New York last Thursday night at Osterio del Circo, the site of a post-screening dinner, stopping at every table to greet the likes of Padma Lakshmi, Joan Juliet Buck and Byrdie Bell. Pinto, clad in hot-pink Marchesa (she specifically told her stylist she wanted to wear something from the label) said this is her first movie. “I haven’t really slept for six days,” said Pinto.
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