Celebrity publishing faces new star challenger

Look out People magazine, there's a new kid on the block in the cutthroat celebrity publishing industry. And the competition comes from an unlikely place: A talent agency known for its work behind the scenes in Hollywood.

The Wall Group, whose celebrity stylists choose wardrobes for the likes of Julianne Moore and Michelle Dockery, launched an online publication on Wednesday featuring unusual glimpses of the worlds of Hollywood, TV and fashion. The publication, called called The Thick (Instagram @thethick_), doesn't plan to serve up celebrity gossip but tell the stories of creative people through their own words.

The Thick can utilize the agency's connections across various industries to compete for a piece of the entertainment world's editorial space. The initial contributions, which are written in first person, include actor Alan Cumming along with The Wall Group's Rachel Zoe, whose clients include Jennifer Lawrence and Sofia Vergara.

While The Thick isn't advertising yet, there's plenty of money up for grabs in the highly popular celebrity news industry. Time Inc.'s People magazine, for instance, generated $1.1 billion in advertising revenue in 2013, up from $1 billion in 2012, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

Many celebrity-news fanatics have naturally migrated online in recent years, exposing big magazines to new competition. That has put pressure on those magazines to compete online themselves as advertisers pour more money into digital media.

Content in The Thick will be controlled almost entirely by its contributors. "We're allowing these people to tell their own stories in their own terms," said Bramble Trionfo, creative director of The Thick. "We're not necessarily reporting our opinion or our take."

In one of the first posts, celebrity photographer Patrick McMullan describes the decoration of an apartment where he moved in 1977. The site gives a virtual tour of the apartment and its various decorations—including a photo McMullan took of Linsday Lohan and reworked in Photoshop.

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One objective is to give readers a view of the lives of successful people in the fashion,beauty and entertainment industries that's rarely seen. "The goal is to give everyone a very intimate perspective on these people—like a fly on the wall," Trionfo said.