Bait and Switch

Not content with raiding Jared Paul Stern of “Page Six” for $300,000, and Us Weekly fashion editor Kelli Delaney for the same, Bonnie Fuller is now planning to take the supermarket Star even further upmarket by looting more salubrious titles. “She’s offering boatloads of money to people at Vanity Fair!” cries one well-placed source. “And she wants names.”

VF contributors chary of the Star’s traditional culture (rifle through Roseanne’s garbage, anyone?) may be reassured by the increasing presence of former Condé Nasties (Details editor Joe Dolce, Glamour’s Amy Spencer, and Allure’s Emiliano Neri). Then, of course, there’s the small fact that Fuller’s checkbook, courtesy of David Pecker’s American Media, now surpasses even that of S. I. Newhouse (at least for now).

“People have been enthusiastic about joining us,” insists Fuller. “They know that weekly celebrity magazines can sell a hell of a lot of copies.”

Dominick Dunne, surely one object of Fuller’s lust, notes, sounding momentarily rueful, that he’s under contract at VF. “But do I think she can get good writers? Yeah, if she’s going to dangle some bucks.”

According to some who have been approached, part of Fuller’s tantalizing pitch is not simply wads of cash but the prospect of equity (even an IPO!) in American Media, which, she’s telling people, aims to expand quickly. “You have to have a lot of faith,” counsels Janice Min, who resisted the call to follow Fuller to the Star and was promptly rewarded with Fuller’s old job as editor-in-chief of Us Weekly. “It’s like going to an Internet site in 1998. Some people reaped enormous rewards, but most ended up out in the cold.”

As for Stern, he’s already spending his salary, on two Ralph Lauren made-to-measure suits. “An important part of this relaunch is the image we’re remaking,” he explains solemnly. “So you’ll see me on TV in these three-piece suits.”

But some, at least, are finding the cash resistible. “You couldn’t pay me enough to do it,” sniffs VF contributor Michael Shnayerson.

“No one grows up saying, ‘I want to work at Star,’ ” adds a Fuller fan who has also refused her charms. “The money is insane, but there’s also a reason you’re paid a lot to be a porn star.”

Bait and Switch