Publishing Star Fuller Serious About Starting a Celebrity Channel


American Media Chief Editorial Director Bonnie Fuller says her company is eager to get into the television business.

"This is going to be a major area of exploration for us in the next year and, hopefully, implementation," she said, explaining more fully why she was a logical woman to be on a New York luncheon panel sponsored by Women in Cable and Telecommunications last week.

Fuller, credited for reviving US Weekly before being wooed away, said American Media is considering creating cable channels and programming based on its magazines like celebrity books Star and The National Inquirer. The company also owns health and fitness titles including Shape and Men's Fitness, which presumably could inspire a health and fitness network or shows.

In New York media circles, Fuller's defection from US was the stuff of gossip columns and jet-set chatter. But starting a full time show biz channel, when E! already fills a niche, and lots of shows cover the topic, is a tall order, especially in an overcrowded cable industry.

Fuller, who also formerly helmed Cosmopolitan, joined Charter Communications Executive Vice President and COO Maggie Bellville and Kathy Dore, president of Rainbow Media's entertainment services, on a panel at the WICT event.

When she was asked to identify a rough spot in her career and what it taught her, Bellville replied Wednesday: "There have been a few days in the last few months when I said, 'Whoa, where am I?' "—referring to four former Charter executives who have been indicted in an accounting scandal. But, Bellville said, "I don't ever take on the victim mantra. We learn and go ahead."

Dore is also no stranger to scandal. In July, She added Rainbow's AMC and WE: Women's Entertainment networks to her plate after Rainbow axed 14 employees in June over alleged accounting irregularities at AMC Networks.

When asked about her career mistakes, Fuller emphasized the importance of cultivating good staffers. Earlier in her career, when she was the top editor at Cosmopolitan, then-startup Maxim poached her two top deputies.

Desperate to replace them, she said she made hiring decisions she would later regret. "I hadn't developed an ever-greater depth of talent, so I was forced to make quick or unwise choices."