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.