Mags Scramble to Put King of Pop on Cover

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    TIME's special commemorative issue on Michael Jackson hit newsstands today.

    After Michael Jackson's death last week, editors scrambled to turn the King of Pop into the king of magazine covers.

    From Newsweek's shot of a young reflective Jackson to Herb Ritts' sexy T-shirt photo used for Time's special commemorative edition, the Gloved One was already on newsstands Monday morning. And more print celebrations were on the way from, among others, In Touch Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Ebony, Billboard, Rolling Stone and OK!

    Said Richard Stengel, Time's managing editor: "The decision to do the special edition was made at 11 p.m. Thursday," hours after the pop superstar's death. "Friday was always scheduled to be a regular work day, so the whole staff was working. It really was all-hands-on-deck.

    "The art department sprang into action as did the photo department," Stengel said in an interview. "We came up with a plan for a table of contents and the architecture of the issue, and then assigned the stories. Once that happened, everybody got into motion. In a little over 24 hours, it was basically complete."

    Time's 64-page edition — separate from its regular weekly issue that came out Friday — exhaustively covers Jackson's career. It was Time's first special edition since the 9/11 attacks.

    The special opens with Jackson's death and then flashes back to his beginnings, starting with a section called Prodigy, followed by Superstar, Jacko, Legacy and finally Farewell, a single, full-page photograph of the man's fashion trademark, a sequined glove.

    "We realized his life did fall into these chapters," Stengel explained. "There was the little Michael Jackson — the Jackson 5. There were the superstar years where he was the most famous, global celebrity and then the very weird, eccentric years. We thought that would be a great structure for the package — with that opening story about the news of his death and then a closing piece evaluating the music."

    Newsweek took a a different approach, incorporating Jackson's death into a regularly scheduled issue. But the magazine, a double issue for the weeks of July 6 and 13, has two different covers — with the Jackson cover available on newsstands and subscribers receiving an issue celebrating "What to read now — 50 books that make sense of our times." Number one on the list: "The Way We Live Now," Anthony Trollope's satiric dissection of Victorian financial and moral tribulations, first published in 1875.

    "We try to do a 'hard' close of the magazine on Friday evening, but we can go into the magazine on Saturday if we need to up until about 2 p.m. and it prints later that evening," Daniel Klaidman, Newsweek's managing editor, said.

    "This was a case where the story broke on Thursday, so we had sufficient time to get decent coverage into the magazine. You want to be on the newsstand for those epic stories where people still want to run out (and buy it).

    "But then for our subscribers, who don't get the magazine as quickly, there's the summer reading cover, which has been in the works for a while and which readers will be able to go back to over the next week or two or longer.

    Many publications had already gone to press last week when news of Jackson's death hit, but they are making up for it this week or next.

    Rolling Stone will have a special "bookazine" tribute, selling at $9.99, with 450,000 copies being put on newsstands July 10.

    USA Today has two publications available — one, a large, glossy, 96-page tribute entitled "Michael Jackson: King of Pop," already on newsstands, and the another a 40-page tabloid-size edition called "Michael 1958-2009," available Tuesday.

    Jackson shares the cover of the new issue of In Touch Weekly with Farrah Fawcett, who died the same day as the music icon. "It's an equal split," said Richard Spencer, editor-in-chief of the magazine, which will be out Tuesday.

    Fawcett's death from cancer had been expected, and In Touch Weekly, like most other publications, was ready for it.

    "Michael was a little bit different," Spencer said. "We ran an article six months ago saying he had medical problems and one of the sources in the article said his doctors gave him six months to live.

    "Of course, we didn't know he was going to die that day, but we were prepared that he was sick and things were looking very sketchy for his comeback tour."

    Choosing the cover photo of Jackson and Fawcett at In Touch Weekly touched off a debate," Spender said.

    "The most recent photos have his nose looking so much like the product of plastic surgery and we didn't want a lot of that negativity when you looked at the cover," he said. "We chose something that went back when he was younger."

    It echoes the sentiment of Time's Stengel whose magazine got its cover photo from the Ritt estate.

    "I didn't want to have a photo from the later, freaky years," Stengel said. "I wanted a beautiful image that ... showed him (Jackson) at his height. ... I also thought there was something poetic about the gesture he was making (in the photo) because it's almost like he is waving goodbye."