Mark Frith Has Left The Building

Friday was emotional. Mark Frith's last day as editor of heat magazine.

Mark is leaving a pursue a career in book-writing: his debut The Celeb Diaries will be published through Ebury in the Autumn. He has been at heat's tiller for 10 years now, since heat started life as Project J, in 1998. I started writing for them then, too, which was very different to writing for them today. For one thing, there were live reviews! I went to Norwich to review a Gay Dad gig for heat, and also covered the abominable Kula Shaker at London's 100 Club. For a while, I compiled a gig guide section too. Madness.

Then Mark steered his ship in a different direction, making it more celebrity-led and more of interest to women (although their boyfriends would sneak a read too). Heat's circulation swung up from 60,000 to more like ten times that, and secured itself a furrow in an eternally volatile, fickle market.

I can honestly say that Mark is the finest, most impressive and certainly tallest magazine editor I've ever worked with. Absolutely sure of himself and his decisions, while remaining one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, he's the very antithesis of editors who resort to throwing random strops in some misguided quest for respect. He also has a great way of making direct orders sound like casual suggestions. Which really is harder than it seems.

There were emotional speeches in the heat office, as well as many gifts and a special quiz for Mark about the hundreds of issues of heat he'd toiled over. We then moved to a room in the club Century where alcohol was consumed and video screens showed messages for him from members of the team and a few celebs. Even though I don't doubt that heat will remain in very safe hands, it has to be said that, without Mark Frith, it will never be the same again. It's the end of an era. Or of course, if you happen to hate celebrity magazines, an error.

My own mini-era of filling in on the mag as Acting Reviews Editor will end later this month: I've loved my time in this post - I swear that heat's is the only office I could ever work in full-time - but it's time to revert to freelance life. See, there's the little matter of building a full-on screenwriting career. This summer will be all about script-writing, hard work and drinking beer. It's already shaping up to be a scorcher.

P.S. Writer/director Edgar Wright's summer just got a spring in its step too: here he is on his MySpace blog, reacting to the cancellation of the US version of Spaced.


Oli said...

I was one of the original 60,000, whereas now my girlfriend buys it and I nab it to read the film and telly reviews. I'm nothing if not predictable.

Oli said...

Oh, and good luck with returning to freelancing. Work, writing, beer. It's all very good.

Anonymous said...

Jason try to learn to listen to good music, ok?

Jason Arnopp said...

I'll do you a deal, anonymous: you try to learn how to form basic sentences (in English) and I'll give 'em another shot.

Good Dog said...

Didn't heat start out as a sort of lame UK version of Entertainment Weekly before they tried a different approach?

Oli said...

Lovely to see you trying a new tact, Good Dog. Bulldozing opinions suits you so much better than... oh, wait, I'm sorry, that's what you always do.

Good Dog said...

Oh, little Oli child,

I take it you know what Entertainment Weekly is? And you've probably been reading it, on and off, since the third issue.

Because if you had, and paid attention, you would have spotted the articles that appeared in Empire that... how shall we put this... were very much influenced by existing EW articles.

So when heat arrived on the shelves, it kind of knocked that on the head.

Sorry you don't like my opinions. At least they're informed, rather than the wailing blather of foolish young children.

A friend of mine once said "I do not seek the approbation of monkeys", which I think is rather suitable.

Oli said...

I simply did not find Jason's blog an appropriate forum for a slagging of a magazine that he's clearly proud to be a part of.

Perhaps I am the only one not to find your grumpy teen shtick entirely charming. Though I doubt it.

Jason's blog is also not the place for a flame war, so I shall bid you adieu.

Good Dog said...

Hold on laddie, Calling it a "lame UK version" is supposed to be slagging it off?

Well, I suppose it's not exactly the politest way of putting it, but as I recall - and ten years is a heck of a time to try and remember back to - there certainly was more than a nod to EW.

The fact is, while.... oh, Empire and Total Film (which I suppose was out then) had a definite content and audience - which would be film and cinemagoers - heat as I remember was a little more scattered. With probably eight hundred issues of EW boxed here in my flat, there has certainly been an evolution of the magazine. The early issues are very different in content, not just - obviously - design.

I wish I'd kept the first issues of heat to compare to so I didn't have to ask the question. As Jason says, it became more celebrity-led because in its earlier incarnation the potential readership certainly wasn't completely getting it for some reason. Was the content too across the board for folk's tastes rather than be film- or music- or television- or theatre-specific?

And I think Jason has a far tougher hide than you give him credit for.

As for "grumpy teen shtick".... Oh, good grief.