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2012 October 9

Behind The Scenes: "Hearst One Hundred Twenty Five" Hits Bookshelves

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"Hearst One Hundred Twenty Five" book "Hearst One Hundred Twenty Five" book
Courtesy Hearst
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(NEW YORK) Tonight, Hearst is continuing an epic year of celebrating its big 125th anniversary with a cocktail bash at Rizzoli for Hearst One Hundred Twenty Five, its splendid, coffee table-ready ode to the multifaceted media powerhouse. The Daily popped by the Hearst Tower recently to get the full scoop from Debra Shriver, chief communications officer and SVP/Magazines at the company. Check out the Gallery for a peek at the gorgeous tome! BY ALEXANDRA ILYASHOV

What’s the gist of Hearst One Hundred Twenty Five?  
This was a labor of love, and it was so much fun! It’s almost like a really great cocktail party between two covers. We wanted to show off the breadth of artists and people in the creative community who’ve worked for us. We didn’t want a corporate book, we wanted an art book. I worked closely on the project with Judith Bookbinder [VP creative communications at Hearst Magazines] and two or three others. We didn’t know what we were looking for, but we had this fabulous vision of a fine arts book. We did the documentary and the book in less than a year. Even our editors, besides the two who participated, David Granger and Robbie Myers, were surprised when they found out about the book!

How did you select those two editors, specifically, to get involved?
We wanted people who understood the creative DNA of Hearst and had somehow touched us in their content. David and I came to Hearst the same year, and we’re the same age; there are editors who are very good writers. Usually, an editor gets too busy to write, but some can make the time to do so, and David falls in that category. I called up Robbie and told her I wanted to pair her in this chapter with William Randolph Hearst and have her write about style. She was very busy with fashion weeks, but in 24 hours, she’d delivered her essay! I’ve always been a fan of Robbie’s editor’s letter, and she’s always been a great journalist. I really wanted to work with her once she’d moved into the Hearst tower, and her writing was wonderful—we did not change a word.

Where can people find the tome?
We published it ourselves, and will be selling limited copies at Rizzoli—they’ll carry 125 copies, to be sold for $125 apiece, released to the public. We expect to sell out. Without telling you the exact quantity of books, I can tell you that it’s the same number a publishing house or art book distributor would do, in multiple thousands. We’ll keep the rest here to give as gifts for special occasions, whether someone like Hillary Clinton or our colleagues from Japan, where there’s a big gifting tradition, come to the Hearst Tower.

What was the process like of creating this book?
We don’t have a formal archive. About once a year we get a call from a reporter, asking us to walk them through our archives. Without archives, we had to spend the most time tracking down the rights for particular elements of the book and film. We basically did three years of work in less than a year—in eight or nine months, really. We wanted do it in our [communications] office as opposed to assigning it out to an editor here—plus to ask someone like David Granger to put our 12 issues in a year in addition to this kind of a book seemed ridiculous. I’m an ex-newspaper reporter, I’m married to an editor, and I used to work for David Ogilvy, so I know how to do my research!

What’s the story behind the cover?
We had an artist in Italy design the cover; we haven’t sold many things that have Hearst on them—we have things branded as Esquire or Harper’s Bazaar, ESPN, or Lifetime Television. We included as many logos as we could—I think there are 150 logos on the cover. We also wanted it to have a pop art look.

And what’s the scoop on the documentary, Citizen Hearst?
It’s on the festival circuit right now, then we’re going to television at some point, probably on the History Channel on cable as well as our affiliates in local markets in 2013. It’s a bona fide documentary, as we didn’t want a corporate film. Leslie Iwerks’ thing is doing films on corporations for the business world, and she directed, produced, and wrote this film; I was one of two executive producers. There’s a Ken Burns-ian intro, some never-before-seen footage of William Randolph Hearst speaking, then we hit the highlights of the past 125 years. We’re currently working on a version of Citizen Hearst in Italian for viewing in Italy; the Japanese [Hearst office] wants a copy, too…

Who are some of the greats involved?
Just on the print side, [Andy] Warhol, [Alexey] Brodovitch, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Amelia Earhart, are all amazing people who’ve worked for Hearst over the course of 150 years. William Randolph Hearst was the company's founder, and he wrote several books, so of course we had to lead with him in the book. It’s almost like a scrapbook, with things like the original Good Housekeeping seal and popovers recipe.

What’s up with the unique pairings?  
We wanted to have a little irreverence about it, through the parings in various chapters, who are “winking” at each other in the layouts. There’s Norman Foster, the great architect who designed the Hearst Tower, is paired with Esquire’s David Granger. We own half of Mark Burnett’s company—his projects include The Voice, and he’s one of the creators of reality TV, and Caramel Snow, who was one of Diana Vreeland’s editors. Arthur Frommer and Oprah Winfrey get partnered together; then, since we own the Dagwood sandwich [from the Blondie cartoons], there’s a picture of the Dagwood and tweets from Seventeen’s editor Ann Shoket—bites and bites!

What’s the scoop on the cheeky correspondence-filled insert booklet?
We did a little book-inside-a-book called “Please and Thank You,” filled with great letters from famous people upon famous occasions. Henry Ford, William Randolph Hearst, Glenda [Bailey] getting a note from Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz. Two days after 9/11, George W. Bush wrote Pamela Fiori at Town & Country a note, which we included in the layout. We end that section with a letter from Hachette Filipacchi when the business deal went through. We were able to fit in a few more pages by doing fold-outs and the insert booklet.

So, how has Hearst done this anniversary up right?
Anniversary events are hard, because they’re usually only important to the people celebrating them. You can also do anniversaries badly. In the spring, we gave everyone here in the tower a “birthday card” with a new ID card in it—we didn’t tell them what it was about, but it gave them entre into the city’s cultural institutions, from the Met to the MoMA, and discounts at various places—almost like a cultural debit card. We had five chefs come to our cafeteria earlier this year, including Marcus Samuelsson, who brought 125th Street to the Hearst Tower for our 125th anniversary. We had Wylie Dufresne, who’s married to Food Network Magazine’s Maile Carpenter, make gourmet hot dogs, so we really celebrated amongst ourselves first. We also had a 250-pound cake by Sylvia Weinstock, which had 1,000 slices. I watched four men lift that cake onto a cake stand! We started off with 20 or 30 ideas initially and whittled it down to what we’ve done—I’m really pleased with how the year has panned out.

The Hearst Tower has such fantastic galleries! Can we expect a Hearst museum anytime soon?
Not a museum, but there is a space on the corner of this building [the Hearst Tower] that you should keep your eyes on; we may have something to announce at a later date. You’ll never guess!

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