In your outrageously newsy Wednesday media column: a PR conspiracy theory for Us Weekly, updates on Conde Nast layoffs and Interview cheapskate-ness, Steve Bartelstein vanishes, and trade mags start wheezing:

The Us Weekly-Leann Rimes-PR Firm Wild Conspiracy Speculation

Us Weekly's big cover scoop this week is that married country star Leann Rimes is having an affair with Eddie Cibrian, her costar in a Lifetime movie. For those of you not intensely interested in the love lives of country stars or unknown TV actors, there's another angle: both Leann Rimes and Us Weekly are represented by NYC PR firm Dan Klores Communications. A conspiracy-minded type might wonder if any shenanigans took place to land Leann on the cover of Us—the magazine gets a scoop and she gets all up in the news, at the minor price of an exposed affair. Or, a PR firm could theoretically sell out one client to a more important client to curry favor. Totally unsubstantiated idle speculation, people! But DKC was the firm where Rob Shuter worked when he was Jessica Simpson's publicist, and got in trouble for leaking a story about a Jessica-John Mayer fling just to get her a magazine cover. Of course, they showed him the door for that. So who knows what goes in in the Byzantine world of PR? Idle speculation is fun!

Update on the pending Conde Nast Media Group layoffs we told you about yesterday: we hear that they've already started, and about 20 people total are going to go (out of 135 in the group). If you know more, email us.

The Us Weekly-Leann Rimes-PR Firm Wild Conspiracy Speculation

Yet another fruitful update! Yesterday we heard that Interview magazine was slow paying freelancers because of money problems. Now we hear more evidence it's true—one freelancer says that after weeks of non-payment, they were told by an Interview editor that checks are being "held" because it's really a "bad time" for the magazine, financially speaking, but that every other freelancer there is in the same boat, and they do sympathize. How quaint. Pay up.


The Us Weekly-Leann Rimes-PR Firm Wild Conspiracy Speculation

WCBS New York anchor Steve Bartelstein had some murky issues with a "man-on-man stalking/harassment lawsuit" a few years back, and was later fired by the ABC affiliate after falling asleep in his office and missing the news, then beat testicular cancer and was a hero, and now has mysteriously "suddenly resigned" from WCBS for undisclosed reasons. What a roller coaster ride! If you know more just email us, you know the drill.


The Us Weekly-Leann Rimes-PR Firm Wild Conspiracy Speculation

Trade mag publisher Crain Communications announces a 10% companywide salary cut and 150 layoffs, and Crain-owned Ad Age decides to cut its yearly issues back to 43 or 44. We hear Ad Age didn't get hit with any major editorial layoffs, so maybe less is more in this crazy world!