Entertainment Weekly published its 1,000th issue earlier this year—and maybe that was enough, since they're rumored to be considering killing their print edition next year. Let's look back at EW's fun history! Okay:
Time Inc. launched EW in 1990. Back then it was supposed to be a sort of halfway point between, say, Variety and People. That was then! Today celebrities have taken over all media, and everything has become more like a celebrity magazine than an insidery trade magazine, including EW.
Current print-hater Jeff Jarvis was, ironically, EW's first managing, a fact which he has used to establish his own credibility with print people ever since. At the time, EW's launch was considered a big risk. From Folio, in 1989:
Unlike the previous expensive newsstand prototype of Picture Week, which never got off the ground, Entertainment Weekly was tested by more traditional direct mail. Initial circulation will be 500,000; subscriptions will be priced at $1 per issue, and single copies will sell for $1.95.
The launch of Entertainment Weekly is the first since the costly failure of TV-Cable Week in 1983. With a sigh, Brack says, "Eveybody is looking for a connection between this launch and that one—it's irrelevant and I'm tired of it."
We all still mourn the death of TV-Cable Week! But EW flourished, mostly because its sections are bite-sized, it's not too far down on the stupid scale, and it could make outsiders feel, uh, a wee bit insiderey, I guess, so it had broad appeal.
It launched at a circulation of 500K; by the early 2000s it was well over 1.5 million. Plus EW had the bright idea of naming the "Entertainer of the year" every year, which naturally resulted in a ton of free PR, because news holes are huge and the media is desperate. Though some of their choices were kind of vague cop-outs, like Time's Person of the Year is sometimes. Particularly:
Bart Simpson (1990)
Jodie Foster (1991)
the cast of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Fast forward to the modern days of dying print and a plunging economy and all that, and EW is widely considered to have serious troubles. We should note that they do smart things every once in a while. But I do wish that "Owen Gleiberman, film critic for Entertainment Weekly," would get the hell off my TV on NY1 so early in the morning. If EW does, indeed, end up going online-only (which is just a rumor, and not imminent even if it's true), some people will lose their favorite bathroom reading. And we'll probably gain a competitor.