Who: The CEO of the rather generic-sounding American Media Inc., Pecker oversees a collection of more than a dozen magazines and newspapers including the National Enquirer and Star. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2010.
Backstory: The son of a bricklayer from the Bronx, Pecker started out as a bookkeeper for a construction company while he was still in high school. After college, he landed a job at the accounting firm Price Waterhouse, jumping to the accounting department at CBS's magazine division in 1979. Eight years later, CBS sold its magazine portfolio to the company's longtime chief, Peter Diamandis, and Pecker followed along. Diamandis eventually unloaded the magazines to Hachette Filipacchi; after Diamandis's departure three years later, Pecker was appointed the company's CEO. Pecker left Hachette in 1999 when he raised more than $850 million from Thomas H. Lee Partners and Evercore Partners to take over American Media, the publisher of the National Enquirer, Star, as well as tawdry supermarket weeklies like the Weekly World News and the Globe. He expanded the AMI empire in 2003 when he raised an additional $350 million to purchase Wieder Publications, the publisher of Men's Fitness and Shape.
Of note: It's been a rough few years for Pecker and AMI. The saturation of the celebrity news market both in print and online has led to both increased competition and declining sales. Pecker has also had to deal with a good deal of internal turmoil: More than half a dozen editors have helmed the National Enquirer over the past five years, and Pecker's high-profile hire of Bonnie Fuller in 2003 didn't pay off as expected. (Pecker had hoped that Fuller would reenergize AMI's Star, and give her former employer, Us, a run for its money. That never happened and Fuller exited the company in 2008.) With investor pressure mounting over the past year or two, Pecker has been spending much of his time cutting costs. He's slashed jobs and relocated some employees to the company's Florida office. He's also been forced to He had to give up the ultimate CEO perk—his corporate jet. After months of rumors about an impending bankruptcy, AMI finally filed Chapter 11 in November 2010.
Drama: The hard-charging Pecker has never had many friends in the industry. He once took an ad out in the New York Times denouncing rival publishing house Hearst for cutting their rate bases and raising advertising rates. He later infuriated his own editorial staff when he killed an article in Premiere at the request of pal Ron Perelman. (When the editors of the magazine resigned over the move, Pecker told the press, "The last time I looked, I am CEO of the company.") He's even tangled with the industry trade group, the Magazine Publishers of America, and eventually pulled out of the organization rather than comply with the rules that had been set up to delineate between advertising and editorial.
Personal: Pecker lives with his wife, Karen, in Greenwich, Conn. where Pecker keeps a collection of cars. The Peckers also have a beach house in Boca Raton, Florida.
No joke: It was Pecker's bright idea to sign up Sylvester Stallone in 2005 to create a men's magazine called Sly. (It was shut down after one issue.) You can also credit Pecker for signing up Victoria Gotti as a Star columnist.
Full Name: David Jay Pecker
Date of Birth: 09/24/1951
Undergrad: Pace University
Residence(s): Greenwich, CT; Boca Raton, FL
Filed Under: Media, Magazines