The new gossip website HollywoodLife, which launched today, is selling two points hard: queen of celebrity sausage-making Bonnie Fuller, and the idea that The Internet Is a Conversation in which you and Bonnie are BFFs. So: are you buying?
As the editor in chief of magazines like Us Weekly, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, Bonnie Fuller's genius (as it was referred to in magazine circles) always lay in the fact that she was always spiritually closer to her reader than to the so-called Manhattan media elite. Not only were celebrities "just like us," but Bonnie was just like you.
At her last job – overseeing Star magazine at American Media – the jig was up, probably because by then, everyone had already copied her formula, and because the Internet was starting to kill the celebrity weeklies' buzz.
Now, Mail.com's Jay Penske is betting that the woman who has trouble fitting her tweets into 140 characters (and famously used to avoid her computer and email altogether) gets this Web stuff.
Exhibit A: The site has sufficient confidence in Bonnie Fuller as a brand name outside of the media crowd to scrawl her name across the top.
Exhibit B, from the official press release:
"While the new digital stylings of HollywoodLife.com offer unprecedented opportunity for readers to take part in the news and reviews, the site's feminine bling will come from Ms. Fuller's editorial presence.
"HollywoodLife.com is much more than just a next step in my career", says Ms. Fuller. "Rather, it's the next step in my relationship with the female audience. The site's interactive nature allows for a more immediate, emotional connection between readers and myself. It's a place that offers the right mix of news and opinion where women can express themselves and ask their own questions."
They've got a point: no matter how many perky exclamation points print glossies add to their headlines to make them seem even more informal and girlfriend-like, it's still a one-way form of address. And that lofty platform was, more often than not in the case of the magazines Fuller edited, used as a way to exploit and create female insecurity about bodies, clothes, relationships, and so on. These days, the Internet can offer an entirely different way to talk about whatever women want to talk about.
On Day 1, the new "conversation" seems to be mostly between the headline writers and various celebrities.
Although the "Hollyscopes" section does want to you, the reader, to be in on the fun. Quite desperately so, actually.
So far, the site is sticking to a relatively proven formula of red carpet chatter, the stars of Twilight, and click-to-buy beauty. Diets and relationship advice are so far mercifully absent, as is bodysnarking. But what's the conversation here besides commenting?
Related: Shooting Britney [The Atlantic]
Earlier: Do We Need Women's Blogs?