American Media Inc.


                                                           –unofficial ‘ground zero’ of the anthrax attacks–

–home of six tabloid newspapers: The National Enquirer, Star, Globe, Sun, Examiner and The Weekly World News–


AMI was bought in 1999 by Evercore Partners and David Pecker, brought together in a deal arranged by James Lee, the Vice-Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank. Formerly sited in Lantana as the headquarters of the National Enquirer, the new AMI was relocated to Boca Raton in a large office park complex (adjacent to the I-95, Boca Raton Airport, Florida Atlantic and Lynn Universities) at 5401 Broken Sound Blvd NW. After the anthrax attack, AMI moved to 4950 Communication Avenue. 

“The newly renovated, 63,000-square-foot building has restricted access. All visitors are buzzed in by one of the company’s 25-member security force. The force consists of part-time, off-duty police officers and retired full-time ones, Ostaszewski said. Visitors are issued high-tech passes that bleed through red ink after 24 hours to render them worthless. Once inside, as many as 10 cameras pan for any suspicious activity. ”It’s not the Pentagon, but it is a real good system,” Ostaszewski said.“…
*  “American Media has history of threats”…In May 1999, Meinel left a series of messages for assistant editor Chris Wessling, making “threats of sending biological weapons in the mail,” according to a May 18, 1999, police report…
*   ..American Media vice president and general counsel Michael Kahane found himself at the center of a drama that made worldwide headlines. Even though Bob Stevens was hospitalized on Tuesday, October 2, it wasn’t until Thursday that Kahane received the news that Stevens had anthrax…
Kahane said when he was able to contact John O’Malley, Palm Beach environmental health administrator, “I asked him, `Do we need to close the building?’ He told me Dr. Jean Malecki, director of the Palm Beach County Health Department, would speak to a meeting of employees the next morning.”
The next day [Fri, 10/5] at 4 p.m. an investigative3 team from the CDC, FBI and U.S. Postal Inspector’s office arrived at the AMI building along with O’Malley. 
  “There was a uniform consensus: You have absolutely nothing to worry about,” said Kahane. “They went to Bob’s work area and swabbed his computer keyboard and desk drawers, the floor around the desk and the ceiling overhead. Their actual working investigation took about 45 minutes.”
…It was about 4:30 p.m. on Sunday [Oct 7] that Kahane received an urgent phone call from the FBI’s West Palm Beach office, telling him to call Dr. Malecki immediately. “She said they’d located anthrax in the workplace and they needed to close the building,” said Kahane. “I suddenly realized there were people still working in the building, including CEO David Pecker. I called her back and asked ‘Do you want me to get people out of the building?’  ” ‘Yes– they should leave right away,’ she said. 
The next morning at 9 a.m. more than 500 employees started arriving at the health department offices. Because of the numbers, they had to wait outside before medical staff could administer nasal swabs to test for anthrax. They were given a powerful antibiotic, Cipro… Several employees nearly fainted from the stress and heat, and the Red Cross arrived to hand out water for the beleaguered throng.”


Oct 9 — ” ‘The evidence is stacking up that indicates it is not environmental’ said Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, director of the [CDC] in Atlanta Georgia. Health officials said about 770 people who either worked or spent time in the building have been tested, and there were no indications that anyone else was exposed to anthrax….Law enforcement sources said investigators were unable to match the Sun strain of anthrax with any on record”

Oct 10 –“An e-mail message was sent to some staff members saying the chairman of the company had anthrax symptoms. But Mr. Pecker said he was fine. Steve Coz, the editor of The National Enquirer, said no one had reported being ill today, but reporters and editors were skeptical.  ”We’re working out of our houses today and so we’re not hearing much,’ one reporter said. ‘ But there is crime-scene tape around the building. And we feel generally paranoid, like, What does the F.B.I. really know? And it’s employees turning on employees and pointing fingers.’ ”

Oct 12 –“At an afternoon news conference in Florida, FBI special agent Hector Pesquera said test results of 965 people who were in the building recently have found no new infections. A few test results were still pending.”

Oct 14 – “nasal swab testing of 965 employees, visitors and relatives had revealed only one positive exposure.” [that person was Stephanie Dailey]



[addendum note: Google Image Search pictures of the AMI crimescene above have gone missing from the available public internet photo base; ‘copy and paste’ no longer seems to transfer these images, leaving the frames where they were originally posted]
“For the first time, we’re seeing video shot by the Environmental Protection Agency inside the abandoned American Media Incorporated building in Boca Raton, where anthrax spores were discovered. The video shows a half dozen E.P.A. workers entering the building in full hazardous materials suits. They are bagging various items, and taking what appear to be swab samples from various surfaces in the building, including the floor.  


The E.P.A. team began on American Media’s first floor. It secured environmental samples from the marble atrium at the company’s entrance, ventilation shafts and the company’s photo library. The decontamination is expected to last one month, using chlorine bleach and chemical foams.


Once inside, the teams found paperwork still resting on desks in the empty office. One National Guardsman says, “it looked like everyone went to lunch.”  Crews learned Wednesday that the bacteria was not found in first-floor air ducts. Officials with the EPA say that the results indicate that contamination in the tabloid publisher’s building may be limited. 
…Testing of samples taken from small non-public mail processing areas at the Greenacres postal facility came back positive for miniscule amounts of anthrax spores. The testing has been completed and all areas have been cleaned, retested, and now are negative for the presence of spores. The Greenacres Postal Facility, located at 4300 Jog Rd., was tested and cleaned following the closure of service on Monday evening, and reopened on its normal schedule Tuesday, with no interruption in service. Postal spokesman Joseph Breckenridge says that the cleaning was conducted as a precautionary measure.”
White House Press Briefing, Oct 25, 2001 
Gov. Tom Ridge, new chief of Homeland Security:
“Today we want to share with you the latest scientific analysis of the anthrax samples…DNA tests have also revealed that none of the anthrax samples have been genetically altered, which is very good news, obviously, because it means that the samples all respond to antibiotics. And, therefore, people who are exposed can be treated.  ..Unfortunately, we have not been able to conduct similar tests on the anthrax from Florida or the Brokaw letter because of limited amounts of substance retrievable from the scene. Just wasn’t enough for us to retrieve from the scene to conduct the same tests. ”
On Oct 31, The National Enquirer published an article titled “The Nightmare That Came in the Mail” :
“The wife of Steven’s boss at the Sun newspaper spent a week with two of the terrorists, helping them find rental apartments in Florida  …The ENQUIRER has.. learned exclusive details about a link between the Sun and the terrorists who attacked America on September 11. Gloria Irish, the wife of Sun Editor-in-Chief Mike Irish, is a Delray Beach real estate agent – and she spent a week driving two of the Arab terrorists around the Florida city when they were looking to lease apartments. Gloria first met one of the terrorists when he walked into the office of her company, Pelican Realty, around July 10. He was Marwan Al-Shehhi…“He asked if I had any rentals for a three-month period, saying he was studying to be a commercial pilot,” Gloria told The ENQUIRER.” “He was renting airplanes locally to rack up flying hours. I mentioned that my husband held a private pilot’s license…

“I spent much of the week driving Marwan around looking at apartments. He’s come into my office each morning to take a drive to look at another apartment and he’d say, `Hey Gloria! How are your doing?’ I’d say, `Hey Marwan! Did you go flying today?’…“They were in the apartments only for two months,” she said. “The owners didn’t refund their deposits. They totally trashed both apartments. No garbage was taken out in two months, all of it was in bags…”

…I found out that my husband’s photo editor and our good friend Bob Stevens died from anthrax that he got at the AMI office”…

…The envelope sent to the Sun was addressed: “Please forward to Jennifer Lopez, c/o the Sun….“It was a business-size sheet of stationery decorated with pink and blue clouds around the edges. It was folded into three sections, and in the middle was a pile of what looked like pink-tinged talcum powder.”…
…one of the FBI’s key theories – the terrorists followed a road map laid out in best-selling author Robin Cook’s 1999 thriller “Vector.” …Asked what he thought happened to Bob Stevens, a senior FBI agent told an ENQUIRER employee to read the first ten pages of `Vector.’ ”
The FBI apparently stayed out of the way of AMI executives, EPA, CDC, and whoever else needed access to the building until the summer of 2002:  “The FBI’s search operation began Aug. 27 and ended Sept. 8. It was the first comprehensive search of the supermarket tabloid’s publishing office. According to court documents, hundreds of letters, 33 mail-cart folders, 12 mailroom shelves, 11 mail-slot vacuum samplings and 11 box tops collected throughout the mail room were seized from the building by investigators. They also took two vacuum samples and six carpet samples.”

In November 2002, the Center for Counterproliferation Research published a “one year snapshot” of the anthrax attacks, writing this about AMI: “Clearly, there were some initial gaffes and missteps, including the failure to evacuate and test American Media, Inc. (AMI) employees for several days after contamination was discovered at the AMI building and the initial failure to draw a link between the cases in Florida and New York.”


According to this account of AMI librarian, Maria Peters, written by Jennifer O’Neill who says “One of my new-found friends was Maria Peters who worked for American Media Inc. (AMI). When I asked what newspaper they published she told me her library served the National Enquirer, Star, Globe, National Examiner, Sun, and Weekly World News :  “The general library staff is headed by Martha Moffett, chief librarian of American Media Inc., who has been with the Enquirer for 25 years…(Peters says) Martha Moffet, who was home sick with pneumonia when Bob Stevens was diagnosed, recalls that after he died the employees were “plunged into a nightmare of fear, constantly changing information, testing and treatment. Everyone in the company, and any visitors during certain times, were put on a 60-day regimen of antibiotics. The AMI building was closed, and we had to proceed with no resources, not even our Rolodexes.”

(Peters) “AMI’s archives don’t exist anywhere else – no library, not even the Library of Congress, extends itself to collect the tabloids. They are not on microfilm. They are not fed to vendors. And the little part of their archive that is electronic is not yet searchable. The history of tabloid publishing in America – every edition of The National Enquirer, Star, Globe, Sun, Examiner and The Weekly World News – is locked up in the bound-volume room of AMI. Some of these volumes date back to the 1950s.  AMI also owns an extensive celebrity book collection. Their book room houses over 4,000 volumes of celebrity autobiographies and biographies including rare and out-of-print books. The photo library, although a separate operation, is also an irreplaceable collection. CEO David Pecker is fond of saying that the text library, the archives and the photo collection are the heart of its publications….This is Maria Peters’ account of what went on inside the library of AMI on Thursday, October 4, 2001:  “We recently had a public address system installed and the very first announcement that came over was from our house attorney announcing that a co-worker, Bob Stevens, [an AMI photo editor] had been diagnosed with anthrax. By the afternoon we had a disease specialist available by e-mail if we had any questions or concerns about anthrax. On Friday there was a company-wide meeting on the third floor (where anthrax was later discovered at Stevens’ computer) to assure everyone that there was nothing to be concerned about. One of the specialists even remarked, ‘Do you think I’d walk into this building if I thought there was anthrax in here?’ He later, of course, was on the Cipro protocol.”….Immediately following the closing of the AMI building there was no AMI library….Without their collections the staff has had to scramble….They still miss their collections, which are all very specific to the interests of their editors and writers. They also miss the self-produced indexes to their collections because there is no complete duplicate index to accompany the bits and pieces of collections they have been able to purchase… Martha laments, “If there is one thing I wished for a separate, off-site copy of, it was our indexes. Some of these we’ve been able to pull together or re-create. If I’d had the foresight, I would have had many things in an off-site location as well as in the office. Our shelf list, my Rolodex, my contacts at other newspapers. I would have a complete set of bound volumes in the library and in some other place as insurance. … I remember something new every day that I wish I had.” Martha says the employees of AMI were recently advised to take forty additional days of antibiotics and to consider being vaccinated in an experimental anthrax vaccine program.”

VP and company lawyer, Rotstein, was hands-on for the AMI clean-up: … 45407.html
“Rustine planned to destroy 4.5 million pictures — including a photo of Elvis Presley in his coffin — along with 305,000 pounds of other materials that have all been kept in sealed storage since the attacks”… … elvis.html
“As evidence that the photo was destroyed, Mason’s attorneys included a grainy picture of a man wearing a white hooded jumpsuit and a gas mask. The man, whom they identify as tabloid in-house counsel Daniel Rotstein, is holding the photo that produced a record 6.5 million sales for the Enquirer when it was on the cover of the tabloid shortly after Elvis Presley’s August 1977 death.
The picture of Rotstein was snapped shortly before the Elvis photo and hundreds of others were shredded, the attorneys contend. Rotstein, they say, oversaw the shredding.”…
AMI remained closed for five and one-half years. When it was finally reopened in 2007, the ‘Crown Commerce Center’ was back on the real estate market with a nostalgic look and a virtual video tour:
May 16, 2008 – “Rising office vacancy in Boca Raton doesn’t phase new construction”…
David Rustine, who bought the $3.8 million property for $40,000 in 2003, resold it for over $9 million. The new tenant, Applied Card Systems, is a debt collection entity for Cross Country Bank, noted for harassing and ‘preying’ on consumers

                                                                     American Media Inc. Owners:
EVERCORE PARTNERS –[wikipedia] “The Company was founded by Blackstone Group alumni Austin Buetner and Roger Altman in 1996….Evercore has recently been expanding its advisory business significantly. Now occupying the number 8 spot in US M&A transactions…The firm currently has 250 employees and offices in New York, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Monterrey as well as a partnership with Mizuho Financial Group in Tokyo.” … azine.html. AMI was Evercore’s second ever purchase, after an insulation company.
 Austin Beutner -(founder) , Dep. Mayor of Los Angeles, overseas airports and Port of L.A.

“Beutner began his career in the private sector in 1982 working for Smith Barney’s Mergers and Acquisitions group.  In 1986, he helped establish Smith Barney’s Merchant Banking Group.  In 1989 at the age of 29, Beutner became the youngest partner ever at The Blackstone Group, one of the world’s leading investment and advisory firms.  During Beutner’s tenure at Blackstone, he oversaw successful investments in Mexico and other countries, and advised Sony, PepsiCo and other leading businesses around the world. Beutner transitioned into the public sector working at the United States Department of State in Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  From 1994-1996, he led a team which helped the struggling Russian government and people in their transition to a market economy. He oversaw the development of mortgage and business lending vehicles, led privatization strategies, and implemented redeployment of military technologies. He also created and ran a fund within Russia to invest in small to medium-sized businesses and create jobs. In 1996, Beutner co-founded the investment banking firm Evercore Partners” ..”At Evercore, Beutner led the creation of a world-class financial services firm. Among many other activities, Evercore has been involved in many landmark transactions including advising General Motors on their bankruptcy and ATT on their consolidation of the telecommunication industry.  Evercore also manages money for sophisticated institutional investors around the world in public equity, fixed income and private equity. Evercore’s investments have included controlling stakes in the electric transmission grid for the state of Michigan, the largest cable TV operator in Belguim, an oil company operating on the Gulf of Mexico and a tractor tire company in India. Beutner was born in New York and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His mother is a retired schoolteacher and his father is a retired manufacturing engineer. He attended Dartmouth College where earned a degree in Economics in 1982. Beutner and his wife Virginia have lived in Los Angeles for the past ten years.  They have four children”

January 26, 2010 – “He was about to take a job with the U.S. Treasury Department under President Obama, but changed his mind after a Breakfast of Champions meeting at the home of former [Los Angeles] Mayor Richard Riordan.Eli Broad, Michael Milken and Steve Soboroff were there, the usual power elite suspects…Before breakfast was over, Beutner had emerged as the man who could make that [economic turn-around] happen…Beutner told me he is now in charge of 13 city departments… [he] is keen to jump in. He thinks City Hall stands oafishly in the way of economic growth”…,0,5286654.column? 

 Roger C. Altman -(founder) … r+C+Altman ;grad of Georgetown and UChicago, Lehman Bros, Dep.Sec. of the US Treasury, Council on Foreign Relations. Altman was Evercore’s CEO/Chairman from its inception through 2009 and remains as Evercore’s Chairman of the Board ; R.C.A. is the son of a grocery broker and librarian, raised in Brookline, Mass; became Lehman’s youngest partner at age 28; advisor/friend to the Clintons and John Kerry; resigned his Treasury post ‘under pressure’ over the Whitewater investigation … mall.html; … 0Roger%20C.
 Pedro Aspe – founded Protego in 1996; Minister of Finance and Public Credit of Mexico; PhD from MIT ; Protego Tank company , acquired by Evercore in 2006
Ralph Schlosstein – Pres/CEO; founder of HighView Investment Group; co-founded BlackRock in 1988; Dep. to Asst Sec. of the Treasusury (Roger C. Altman); Schlosstein May2009 … s-new-ceo/, new CEO of Evercore; in 1983 at the time of his marriage to Jane Hartley (media exec), Schlosstein was a VP for Lehman Bros. Kuhn Loeb; co-founder of BlackRock, the largest money manager in the world with $3.2 trillion in assets ; … tein/89292
Gail Block Harris – President of the Board of Directors of New York Cares; director of CIGNA Life Insurance
Curtis Hessler – founded 101 Communications LLC; Asst. Sec of the Treasury (76-81); Harvard, Yale, Berkeley, and Rhodes Scholar … ORTLAND-OR
 Anthony N. Pritzker – co-founder of The Pritzker Group; President of Baker Tanks; Executive at the Marmon Group; Dartmouth and UChicago; Baker Tanks (largest in US), ”From 2000 to 2004 he served as President of Baker Tanks, the nation’s leading tank and pump equipment rental business. In 1998, he was appointed by the Marmon Group to oversee Stainless Industrial Companies, a portfolio of several industrial manufacturing companies. ” the family … onals.html Pritzker Group Marmon Group (60% ownership by Berkshire Hathaway) Baker Tanks, largest container rental in US

See Galaxy Aerospace  for more on the Pritzkers

Francois de St. Phalle – Vice-Chair of Dillon, Read & Co. Inc; partner in Lehman Brothers; Chairman of Lehman International
 Eduardo G. Mestre – Vice Chair; past Chairman of Citigroup bank; past Chairman of the Board of WNYC, New York’s public radio stations; Chairman of the Board of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory [a division Brookhaven Nat’l Lab and research partner with Salk Institute]; born in Havana; grad of Harvard and Yale
Bernard J. Taylor – co-Vice Chair … rId=948107 chief of Evercore Europe; JPMorgan Chase; CEO Braveheart Financial Services (acquired by Evercore); CEO Robert Fleming &Co.; chair of ISIS Innovation Ltd.
Robert B. Walsh – CFO; Senior Partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP; co-Founding Partner for Deloitte’s Capital Markets Group; Board of Directors of New York Cares
William Hiltz – Sr. Managing Dir.; head of UBS Warburg Global Energy ;
Adam B. Frankel – counsel … serid=1222
Paul Pensa – acct.;Credit Suisse First Boston … serid=1285
Thomas J. Gavenda – acct.; formerly with Primus Guaranty … highlight=
 ″David J. Pecker became Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of American Media, Inc. (AMI) in May 1999, when along with Evercore Partners, he purchased the company…. The company’s holdings also include Distribution Services Inc. (DSI), the leading supermarket in-store merchandiser….Following 9/11 in October 2001, American Media became the first U.S. company to be targeted by bio-terrorists using anthrax, and one of its employees became the first casualty… Despite being evacuated from its corporate headquarters, Mr. Pecker moved quickly to relocate the company’s operations…
In November of 2002, Mr. Pecker and Evercore acquired Weider Publications Inc., the leading publisher of health & fitness magazines, including category leader ‘Shape’ and Men’s Fitness. It was the latest acquisition in a 20-year career that has seen Mr. Pecker complete more than $3.6 billion in magazine transactions. In April 2003, Mr. Pecker participated in the $1.5 billion recapitalization of AMI led by Evercore and Thomas H. Lee Partners.” Pecker was the prior CEO of Hachette Magazines (Diamandis Communications Inc.)
—there’s a pic o’ Pecker in the link above.
Hachette Magazines Inc., (the former Diamandis Communications headed by Peter G. Diamandis, magazine publisher, who became chief of CBS’s magazine division which he bought in 1987 changing the name and making the largest magazine business purchase in US history. , Hachette Filipacchi [France] is “the largest magazine publisher in the world” … %C3%A9dias. Hachette’s OWNER “since 1980 is Matra—–Mécanique Avion TRAction or Matra was a French company covering a wide range of activities mainly related to automobile, bicycles, aeronautics and weaponry… Matra was owned by the Floriat family…. , transitioned by stock acquisition to Lagardere Group
Matra is a Defense Contractor –”Matra Hautes Technologies (Matra High Technology) or MHT was the defence arm of Matra. The company was involved in aeropspace, defence and telecommunications. In February 1999 Matra Hautes Technologies merged with Aérospatiale to form Aérospatiale-Matra. On July 10, 2000 Aérospatiale-Matra became part of EADS. … ence.html; controlling ownership and management by Lagardere SCA. EADS North America: … 81%29.html

In Feb 2000, MATRA BAE Dynamics, “Europe’s missile giant” won the UK contract … matra.html


AMI Chief Executive David Pecker told CNN he thought his company was targeted because of its name. “I think this is an attack against America. The World Trade Center was attacked, the Pentagon was attacked, and American Media was attacked, and I think this was the first bio-terrorism attack in United States,” Pecker said.

Recently, overwhelming debt appears to be forcing AMI out of business, or into the hands of its creditors. “”It looks like a major-league collapse of the Pecker empire,” said one industry executive.” … uscle.html

Evercore, Blackstone, Swine flu and Big Pharma

 Joe Weider Friend of Arnold Schwarzeneggar who gave him a start in American bodybuilding. Joe should have gone out of business when his merchandizing business collapsed –instead, an unexplained surge of funding appeared which helped him create a publishing empire. According to wikipedia, AMI bought him out “in the late 90s”, which must mean 1999 and not 2002.

 Ben Weider –loves Napolean and Israel.


In 2001-2002 political funding, AMI, David Pecker and executive staff gave 16 contributions totaling $18,770:
08-22-2001, David J. Pecker, (Dem.) $1,000 to Friends of Rahm Emanuel
12-04-2001, David J. Pecker, (Dem.) $1,000 to Friends of Schumer………etc.
David J. Pecker in the News:
[Aug.3, 2003]   “…his Bronx accent, his voice both gravelly and nasal…Mr. Pecker now has jobs open in New York City, and his career is far from over. With the help of a $3-million-a-year salary offer, he’s managed to lure Bonnie Fuller… He’s moving his most upmarket celebrity tabloid, the Star , to New York…Mr. Pecker told Off the Record at his [One] Park Avenue [10th floor] office…’I grew up in New York.’…Now he’s back, and as a man with the resources to shake the foundations of the business….With 30 slots to fill in New York for the revamped company….Still, for now at least, the majority of American Media’s editorial offices will remain [in Florida].”…
   “Born in the East Tremont section of the Bronx, the son of a Jewish bricklayer who worked with Italians from the other side of Arthur Avenue (and spoke Italian fluently), Mr. Pecker began as far from the boardrooms of New York’s most powerful media conglomerates as one could be in New York. Like many Bronx families, his family moved to the middle-class Westchester enclave of New Rochelle when he was a boy. (His accent remains.) He attended the public schools in New Rochelle. At the age of 16, his father died. His mother saw him graduate from high school and study finance at Pace University, after which Mr. Pecker spent his early career as an auditor for Price Waterhouse… “I was in the publishing business, but I was in the financial side,” he said of his 31st year, when his mother died. “I had just become the controller. She thought I was going to stay in finance. She would be very surprised with what I’m doing today.”
By 1988, Mr. Pecker was at the top of CBS, and when those magazines were sold to Hachette Filipacchi in 1988, he went with them. After becoming president and chief executive, he oversaw the American version of Elle as well as Premiere and launched George [JFKJr’s mag].
“God, I was president for nine years and I stayed there for 12, and my contract was coming up, and I wanted to own something,” he said. “Once I sold out my equity, I didn’t own anything anymore. I was 46 years old and I wanted to do something else, and I felt I had one more big deal in me. And I had looked at The National Enquirer in 1989 on the behalf of Hachette. We bid on it and I was there as the president of the company.
That’s when he led a buyout of American Media with the investment firm Evercore Partners, with him holding a minority stake.”

[Nov 1, 2004]  “Pecker paid $766 million for American Media in 1999. That was seven times Ebitda, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. Magazine companies generally change hands for higher multiples–around ten times Ebitda. Pecker and his majority shareholder, Thomas H. Lee Partners, believe that by surrounding the National Enquirer with glossy magazines they can take American Media public for as much $2.4 billion–12 times the Ebitda they expect next summer. Never mind that the company has borrowed nearly $1 billion in junk bonds and that credit rating agencies are skeptical”….

 “Perhaps the real issue is this: It takes a mad publishing genius to make supermarket tabloids jump off the checkout line racks. How else would anyone describe the late Generoso Pope Jr., who bought the National Enquirer with a $25,000 loan–reportedly from Mafia kingpin Frank Costello–in 1952 and turned it into a publication that could not be ignored? Its chief competitor, Star, was the brainchild of Rupert Murdoch, the Australian press baron now bent on ruling the heavens with his global satellite network. Pecker, the former CEO of Hachette Filippachi Media U.S., has his quirks–he has sought advice about how to operate his company from Victoria Gotti, daughter of the late celebrity mobster John Gotti, and hired her as a Star editor”…

“When Pope died in 1988, a Who’s Who of media moguls–among them Murdoch, Robert Maxwell, and Penthouse’s Bob Guccione–bid for his company. Ultimately, though, the Enquirer went for $412 million to a group of venture capitalists led by Boston Ventures…Boston Ventures group further increased revenue by purchasing Murdoch’s cheerier Star for $400 million… In 1998, Boston Ventures put the word out that it wanted to sell…There was only one serious buyer: David Pecker.”

…”In 1979, Pecker landed a job in the accounting department of what was then the CBS magazine group. Peter Diamandis, the group’s former president, says Pecker showed promise. “He always had the answers to a thousand questions,” Diamandis recalls. Pecker became Diamandis’s controller and one of his inner circle. He helped Diamandis orchestrate a leveraged buyout of the CBS magazine group in 1987 and had a $5 million payday when the bulk of the magazines were bought by Hachette. Pecker stayed on to run the magazines at Hachette with his boss. Three years later, Diamandis quit after a disagreement with his French bosses, and before long Pecker was given the top job.”

   “The new CEO quickly earned a reputation as a bottom feeder who bought magazines that other publishers were happy to unload, like Mirabella and Travel Holiday. He established himself as one of the industry’s more colorful figures. He drove a cream-colored Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible. He took advertisers to Rao’s, the East Harlem eatery where gun-toting mobsters rub shoulders with faux Hollywood tough guys like Bruce Willis and Robert DeNiro. He was so taken with Rao’s co-owner Frank Pellegrino that he paid him to look at movie scripts that Pecker was toying with producing.

Carlo Boccia, a former Drug Enforcement Agency special agent, was hired to sweep Pecker’s office for bugs. Boccia, who spoke French, also eavesdropped on visiting Hachette executives from Paris. “They might not have liked him,” says Boccia, now director of Boston’s Office of Homeland Security, “but they knew he was a producer, and they backed off him.”…”His peers made it known that they thought he had all the class of the used-car salesman he once was. Pecker once was introduced at a Magazine Publishers of America function as ‘David Pecker from the Hatchet Company.’ He quit the group.”     

…”he decided to leave. So he was all ears when James Lee, vice chairman of Chase Manhattan, gave him a ride back home to New York in his company’s private jet from a Chase conference in Colorado. Lee told Pecker he should consider buying a publishing company backed by a private equity firm. “We’ll finance you right away,” Lee said. He had just the company for Pecker: American Media. He also had a private equity firm in mind: Evercore Partners, co-founded by Roger Altman, formerly deputy treasury secretary in the Clinton administration.”
…Pecker reduced expenses by consolidating his tabloid operations in the former Globe Communications headquarters in Boca Raton….Pecker tried to buy magazine companies but was outbid….American Media launched new titles, but discovered that the company’s pockets worked only if they held publications that people wanted to read…
…Pecker’s plan to refurbish the National Enquirer didn’t work. He upgraded the paper and added color, raising the price to $1.49, but sales continued to fall. Things got even worse after Robert Stevens, a Globe photo editor, died of anthrax poisoning in September 2001. Readers stopped buying tabloids, fearing they might be tainted. Pecker had to go on Larry King Live to explain that it was safe to read the Enquirer.”…
    “Pecker got a break in January 2003 when he bought Weider Publications for $357 million. The deal increased his company’s debt to $1.1 billion, but finally he had some glossy magazines to work with…It was largely because of this that Thomas H. Lee Partners came aboard with an investment of $293 million, becoming the company’s majority shareholder. “We have a high opinion of David, and we are high on this deal,” says Thomas Lee, the firm’s CEO. Evercore Partners cashed out its initial investment, reaping a $235 million profit, and stayed on as a minority stakeholder.”
David Pecker, John F. Kennedy Jr., Michael Berman and GEORGE Magazine:
David Pecker  and the launch of GEORGE Magazine: 
“As Kennedy and Berman honed their idea for the magazine, the French media company Hachette Filipacchi became keen to sign up Kennedy. But executives there had a different idea about what the magazine would be–none of that altruistic grass-roots empowerment stuff, no hard edges at all, and lots of Kennedy. George, as the magazine was called, owed its early success to Hachette’s great job of marketing its editor.
Bent on proving himself a serious person, [Kennedy] failed to take advice from more seasoned magazine people. “Sometimes he wouldn’t see things that had the potential to make a very bad article.” The product suffered, turnover was high, and ultimately the magazine ran into financial trouble.”
[After JFK’s marriage to Carolyn Bessette]”Kennedy’s dealings with the media had become deeply ritualized. “He was very nice to our reporters, extremely nice,” says National Enquirer editor Steve Coz. “He always had a witty remark. We put in an offer that we’d love to do an at-home with him and Carolyn.”
..[speaking with writer Michael Gross], “He talked about George. “I find the magazine excruciating at times, when I have to participate in a personal way, but it’s part of what I signed up for.”,9171,991572-1,00.html
“It’s official. The divorce is final between John F. Kennedy Jr. and Michael Berman, his estranged George magazine partner…. Kennedy and Berman, long-time friends, started a publishing company, Random Ventures, in ’95 and launched George with $20 million in backing from Hachette. The partners created one of the most successful new magazine launches ever, racking up 1,000 ad pages in its full year. But their business ties and friendship soured earlier this year and rumors of discord circulated for months before they agreed to split.”

“Michael J. Berman is the New York City businessman who founded George Magazine with John F. Kennedy, Jr and served as its President until 1998. The two had apparently been quietly working on the project for several years before selling an interest to global publisher Hachette Filipacchi Media which launched it to great fanfare in 1995. When Berman was asked by a reporter at the launch press conference what it was like to be a business partner of the celebrated son of America’s 35th President it was widely reported that he quipped, “I imagine it’s a lot like being Dolly Parton‘s feet. While they may be very nice they’re hardly what most people focus on.” Berman has subsequently helmed several media-related and investment companies and as of 2003 serves as President of Galaxy Ventures.”

Galaxy Ventures, LLC, founded 1999



“Kathleen Cottay [who replaced Martha Moffett?] has been promoted to Chief Librarian of American Media, Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida. She is now in charge of both the photo and text archives. AMI is still locked out of their building due to anthrax contamination. It is still unknown if they will ever recover any of their collections. Temporary space has been secured for the next two years and the library has started the process of rebuilding and replacing some five million photographs, 4,000 books and 30 years of tabloid history.”


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