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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:02 pm 
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How the fuck did I miss this story?!

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/22/business/media/22adcol.html?ref=business

Quote:
ELVIS could get a second chance at life, Bat Boy may yet outwit government scientists, and politicians’ chances of adopting alien babies just improved.

The offbeat tabloid Weekly World News, which stopped printing last year, has been sold. The new owner has revived it online and might start printing it again.

“I had always been a fan in college,” said Neil McGinness, whose new company, Bat Boy L.L.C., announced this month it had bought the publication from American Media. “And I grew up in Cleveland at a time when Dennis Kucinich was the mayor, so I believed that U.F.O.’s and many other things were possible.”

Mr. McGinness ran the entertainment and comedy division at IMG Media, was an executive at National Lampoon and handled marketing at Broadway Video, founded by Lorne Michaels, the producer of “Saturday Night Live.”

Mr. McGinness plans to sell advertising online, license characters featured in the News — he is talking to toy companies — and develop movie deals based on the publication’s content.

“Our view is the dominance of special-effects movies at the box office, and the popularity of ‘Heroes’ and ‘Lost’ on prime-time television — shows that the fringe culture is more relevant than ever,” Mr. McGinness said. “And the Weekly World News embraces that fringe culture.”

He has already revamped the Web site, WeeklyWorldNews.com, and is considering a revival of the print version. The Web site will solicit sightings of phenomenon like Bigfoot and aliens and comments from readers, he said. “We really think this audience lives online,” he said. “We are a welcome antidote to mainstream media.”

The Weekly World News was started in 1979 by Generoso P. Pope Jr., then the publisher of The National Enquirer. It distinguished itself from its sister tabloid with its deadpan articles on the bizarre. While The Enquirer might print rumors of a politician’s affair, Weekly World News would print rumors of a politician’s affair with an alien.

It specialized in subjects scientific, religious and political. Some of the more memorable covers have included “Bigfoot Kept Lumberjack as Love Slave,” “Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby,” “Dick Cheney Is a Robot,” and several stories about a love affair between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, including their adoption of a shaved ape child.



Michael Forsyth, who wrote for the paper from about 1996 to 2005, said, “We weren’t going for pure zaniness.” He added, “It was more like a short story in tabloid form.”

In one story line, the publication exhaustively covered Bat Boy, a yowling half-bat, half-baby that a scientist discovered in a cave. According to the paper, Bat Boy was caught by government scientists, escaped, attacked a child, led American troops to Saddam’s spider hole and then endorsed Al Gore.

“I guess you could say things proceeded logically, using the word logically very loosely,” Mr. Forsyth said.

Bat Boy proved intriguing to advertisers, too. A cover in 2003 featured Bat Boy stealing a Mini Cooper and leading the police on an interstate chase. The car’s appearance was arranged by Mini’s ad agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

The agency wanted to establish Mini as an icon, said Andrew Keller, executive creative director of the agency. “We started thinking about Elvis and aliens and some of these things that had become iconic in America culture, and it seemed like they had always appeared on the front of the Weekly World News,” he said. “So for us to be put into the same position as Elvis, that’s great.”

After Mr. Pope’s death, The News and The Enquirer were bought by the romance-magazine publisher Macfadden Holdings, then taken public. In 1999, the company, then known as American Media, was bought for about $770 million by the investment firm Evercore Capital Partners. It installed David J. Pecker, the onetime head of Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, as chief executive.

Coverage began to change under Mr. Pecker, Mr. Forsyth said. Mr. Pecker told the writers to move away from true-crime stories, which the paper had long published, and to avoid black humor, Mr. Forsyth said.

Last year, circulation of Weekly World News fell below 90,000, from a high of 1.2 million in the 1980s. In August 2007, American Media published the last print issue. American Media did not return several calls for comment.

Mr. McGinness said he hoped to attract readers who believe his coverage and those who read it for humor. He pointed to the success of the satirical publication The Onion as a model.

Recent stories from the revamped Web site have more satirical than in The News of days gone by, which presented its subjects seriously. There are articles about Sarah Palin’s having posed with an alien beer, the world’s fattest cat competing on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and the cause of Madonna’s divorce: that Alex Rodriguez is her son.

But there are also classic Weekly World News items, like U.F.O.’s being discovered on a beach after Hurricane Ike.



Advertisers are just beginning to sign on. “In my opinion, it’s kind of an Onion-type thing, but maybe a little broader in terms of the audience, and obviously funny and witty,” said Matti Anttila, the chief executive of the liquor brand Cabana Cachaça, who plans to advertise on the site. “A lot of people are familiar with this site because of what it was in the past, and now it’s being resurrected.”

Mr. McGinness’s plan to use the publication for movie and licensing deals has some precedence.

The Weekly World News was featured in the 1997 film “Men in Black” — Tommy Lee Jones’s character says it has the best investigative reporting on the planet.

And in the early ’90s, the writer and actor Keythe Farley was making a film in a desert when he saw a Bat Boy cover at a supermarket.

“Every night after we would wrap, we would have a little campfire, and we started just making up stories and songs about the Bat Boy,” he said. “If you take a look at that face, it looks like he was singing a high note. That face was born to sing.”

Mr. Farley began working on a show about the creature, which became “Bat Boy: The Musical,” which had its premiere in Los Angeles in 1997 and ran Off Broadway in 2001.

Mr. Farley said he was sad when he heard that the newspaper was closing.

“They were the first, they were the originals,” he said. “You’ve got the World Wide Web now, and the access to these sorts of weird stories is a click away.” But he was eager for the Weekly World News revival.

“I’d like to see Satan’s face in a cloud of smoke again,” he said. “It would be comforting to see Bat Boy screaming at us from the bottom rung of the supermarket rack again.”

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 9:54 pm 
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Oh man, I hope they start printing again. Say what you will, but Weekly World News was good times.

I hope the revival stays true to the original tone, though. In it's latter years it became too self aware. The fun part of the old days was how they would present obviously batshit insane, made up stories as deathly serious news. Towards the end, there was way too much tongue-in-cheek humor and the general tone became more comical. I didn't like that. It does say that the tone is more comical, which I ain't thrilled about, but I'll take what I can get.

Anyway, good news. Very good news.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 10:18 pm 
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I agree w. your critique of WWN. I kind of lost interest when they started letting on that they were "in on the joke."

That said, I still do (and always will) worship at the alter of Bat Boy.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 10:41 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 20, 2006 2:23 pm
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binnall wrote:
I agree w. your critique of WWN. I kind of lost interest when they started letting on that they were "in on the joke."

That said, I still do (and always will) worship at the alter of Bat Boy.


You should read my Bat Boy/Man-Bat/Batman fan-fic sometime :lol:


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:09 pm 
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It's unanimous! All the voices in my head want WWN back. :D

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