What happens when tabloid editors stop fabricating celebrity pregnancies and start getting real? Insiders at David Pecker's checkout-aisle empire say execs there have been working with a Hollywood producer to create a reality TV series chronicling the professional--and personal--lives of AMI staffers.
According to a source involved in the talks, a hand-picked group of employees was summoned to a video conference last Wednesday to learn what would be expected of them if the show gets greenlit. The producer will begin interviewing candidates this week in search of eight staffers worthy of being tailed by round-the-clock camera crews, we hear.
"Star, Celebrity Living, Men's Fitness, Shape--we had people from everywhere," the source said when asked about the cattle call. "We're having meetings, but there's no pen to paper yet. We haven't made a commitment but we're exploring it." The only thing certain, the source added, is that the proposed series won't prominently feature Pecker or editorial director Bonnie Fuller.
Tentatively called One Park Avenue after the company's Manhattan address ("We don't own the rights to that title yet," the source noted, saying the producer would have to license them from the building), the show will be "about the lives of the people who work here versus just about the magazines."
According to multiple AMI sources, those willing to sacrifice their remaining shreds of dignity to the company's multimedia ambitions will indeed be paid.
"We get pitches all the time from people, and this is just one of many," the source said. "I'm sure if you call any magazine company, everyone is looking to get their name on TV. I mean, Glamor, Vogue, Us Weekly, Rolling Stone, Seventeen--they're all looking for opportunities to get on TV."
The source declined to name the producer who pitched the series, saying only that he was "pretty well-established" in the genre. According to AMI insiders, the mystery producer has worked on both Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Showtime's Penn & Teller: Bullshit! The only producer fitting that description, according to IMDB, is reality TV vet Star Price whose spine-tingling credits like The Scariest Places on Earth and the upcoming Nightmare on Elm Street: Real Nightmares would seem to make him a perfect fit for capturing life in Bonnie-ville. (Price did not return calls for comment.)
Of course, some might ask whether it's a good time to expose the privately held company's inner workings to the public. AMI's diminishing earnings and high staff turnover have lately been a recurring theme in New York Post media scribbler Keith Kelly 's column, which recently announced the hiring of Carlos Abaunza, AMI's third CFO in 2005 alone.
This isn't the first time Fuller and Co. have tried to bring life at a celeb weekly to the small screen. In 2003, when she was still at Us Weekly, a series reportedly nicknamed "The Bonnie Show" fell through because "it imposed on the real job of putting out a magazine every week--it encumbered the process." The source claimed that One Park Avenue would be "totally different."
"The Us Weekly show was about how a magazine gets put together in the newsroom and all that shit," the source said. "This concept has nothing to do with that."
An AMI rep did not wish to be quoted on the record for this story.
Previously: Two Rags And A Baby