July 1, 2009
OK! Looks to Cash In on Michael Jackson Death Cover
OK! Weekly is bracing for some flak over its pick for this week’s cover. While other publications went with feel-good images to commemorate Michael Jackson, OK! chose a grim photo of the dying star being whisked to the hospital June 25.
A knowledgeable source said British parent Northern & Shell paid the equivalent of roughly $500,000 in U.S. dollars for exclusive magazine rights to the photo in the U.S. and U.K.
OK! claims that the photo, which is similar to an image that has appeared on Entertainment Tonight’s Web site, is the last one showing Jackson alive. It plans to use the image in a number of its international editions.
News and entertainment weeklies are counting on huge newsstand sales this week due to the public’s huge interest in the pop phenom’s death. OK! in particular could use the help; its single-copy sales, which provide more than half its 909,884 circulation, have been generally weak this year. (The magazine says that sales have improved in the past few weeks but wouldn’t give out those figures.)
OK! also has been under the harsh spotlight lately over financial losses and continual changes at the masthead.
Sarah Ivens, OK!’s editorial director, said she thought the photo of the dying Jackson would differentiate the title from the rash of tribute-style covers that have begun hitting newsstands this week.
“It’s a photo that captures the surprise and the upset and the moment of this breaking news story,” Ivens said. “I hope the cover will provoke readers. It celebrated the man, but it also does expose that he was an eccentric character who lived a very controversial life.”