Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Premiere Magazine, R.I.P.

I was saddened by the news that Premiere is shutting down print operations. I haven't read the book in a long time, but back in the day, it was one of the best parts of the Celebrity Industrial Complex. Premiere did the fawning star stuff, but less of it than, say, Vanity Fair, which aspires to seriousness every so often.

The old Premiere deserves a lot of credit for publishing some of William Goldman's great essay work (which is fortunately now collected; treat yourself, you'll thank me), "Libby Gelman-Waxner" neƩ Paul Rudnick, and Jewel Shepard.

For those of you not familiar with Jewel Shepard, she's a former B-movie queen--one of the pretty girls who came to LA with dreams of grandeur. It didn't quite work out for her. She did some stag magazines. And some movies such as Hollywood Hot Tubs. But it turns out that she's also a gifted, funny writer with a surprisingly soft touch. Someone smart at Premiere gave her a chance and she wrote a series of great pieces for them.

Those essays are hard to find now--what with the elitists prigs at Nexis not including Premiere in the Great Database of Western Civilization. But you can find some reproductions of them on the web. A sample:

From "I'm Naked on eBay":

Every time I log on to eBay and do a search on myself, I find a little piece of my past:

“Jan. 1983 Issue of Easyriders magazine with Jewel Shepard on the cover and inside. Jewel Shepard is famous for her appearance in Hollywood Hot Tubs and The Return of the Living Dead movies.” That's a real one. In case you've never seen a copy—and I don't know how you could not have—Easyriders is one of those successful lifestyle publications. In this case, the lifestyle is riding the biggest, noisiest motorcycle you can afford, with a beer and a babe who flashes her tits and tattoos at UPS drivers. Each issue features a photo spread of a nude lady and a Harley, both displaying their trim.

I have only the vaguest recollection of how I wound up being one of those nude ladies . . . Must have happened during those drug years that neither I nor the Republican candidate for president can recall. I do remember thinking the pics would be off the newstand in short order, never to be seen again. That was before eBay. The Easyriders issue offered there went for 50 bucks—probably about what I got for the photo shoot.

I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, it's flattering to know that enough guys out there want me badly enough to jack the price up that high. On the other hand, it's annoying to discover your own body priced out of reach.

Or this essay on movie press junkets:

I didn't set out to write about junkets per se. I set out to write about Mark Burger, a likeable guy who is the film, theater, and video critic for the Winston-Salem Journal, published in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A member, as it were, of the media non-elite, who also happens to be a fairly accomplished junketeer.

He gets lots of free stuff: T-shirts, sweashirts, hats, bags, and even soap—most recently, pink soap, courtesy of the makers of Fight Club. (The first rule of Fight Club is: You don't talk about Fight Club—unless they send you pink soap.)

More importantly, he gets to be up close and personal with many famous people, some of whom he has admired for years. He also gets to see a whole bunch of movies, and—as he tells me several times—“movies are my life.” Wanting to see precisely what that life consisted of, I made arrangements to meet him in New York and tag along for a particularly big junket weekend. It was pretty surprising to learn that movie studios both major and minor, which normally engage each otherin pit bull-like competition, actually cooperate in the scheduling of their junkets, co-ordinating things so that all the journalists they gather from far and wide can cover more than one movie on their trip to fabulous Gotham or Los Angeles or wherever. Kind of restores your faith in the brotherhood of man and all that stuff.

Go read the rest of that one, it's the best look you'll ever see into how studios make those print ads with all of the quote snippets from local papers.

Anyway, pour some for Premiere tonight. And if you edit a magazine and want some great culture pieces, give Jewel Kilcher a call.


Reel Fanatic said...

Premiere will indeed be sorely missed ... What I enjoyed most were the interviews, which were very often a cut above the stuff you find in most other publications, film or otherwise

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what kind of culture writing Jewel Kilcher can do, but her book of poetry was pretty awful.

Anonymous said...

The folks at Nexis aren't complete elitist pigs - they do have Premiere magazine online.