CBS has given a major makeover to its consumer-focused entertainment magazine Watch! The changes include a redesign to give the publication a glossier look and feel, a greater emphasis on longer reads penned by notable writers including the addition of a scribe close to home for the Eye, former Esquire and Fortune columnist Stanley Bing.
Watch! launched in 2006 as an effort by CBS to tout its network programming at key points during the television season. The publication remains largely focused on talent and properties linked to CBS Corporation assets, which range from CBS, Showtime and the CW to Simon & Schuster to CNET and other digital ventures. But the scope and ambition of the editorial has become more mainstream under the direction of executive editor Rachel Clarke.
“It’s grown up,” said Gil Schwartz, CBS Corp.’s chief communications officer, who oversees the magazine for the Eye. “There’s good journalism in it and beautiful photography. It felt like the time was right to think about Watch! as a more substantial venture.”
Schwartz is well-known in media circles as the scribe who writes under the pen name of Stanley Bing. He’s known for his acerbic wit and skewering of life in the corporate world as well as business and cultural trends. He ended a 21-year run as a Fortune columnist this time last year and he has also penned numerous books.
Bing’s first column in the redesigned Watch! offers “A Drinker’s Guide to Viewing,” suggesting the perfect cocktail for every TV daypart. Bing’s move to a CBS house organ won’t change his approach, Schwartz vowed.
“Stanley will be as skeptical and hard-edged and at times mean-spirited as he always was,” Schwartz assured.
Watch! will continue to publish six times a year. The redesign launches today with four different covers featuring CBS talent: Sonequa Martin-Green of CBS All Access’ “Star Trek: Discovery,” Sanaa Lathan of CBS Films’ “American Assassin,” David Boreanaz of new drama “Seal Team,” and Scott Bakula of CBS’ “NCIS: New Orleans.”
Former New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott also has a new column in Watch! Among the writers who have been recruited for articles in the current and upcoming issues are Bill Zehme, Lynn Darling, and Jeffrey Toobin.
Clarke said the recent wave of changes and layoffs in the magazine world allowed Watch! to tap into a wealth of talent. Clarke and Schwartz cited the design work spearheaded by creative director Ed Mann, a Conde Nast alum.
“There are all of these incredible people out there that have stories to tell,” Clarke said. “We’ve been able to find the best people to bring this to life.”