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Goodbye, Gotham, she's ours
*High-profile publisher Judith Regan will finally open shop in Century City come June.


By Josh Getlin, Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Lying on a massage table Monday night, Judith Regan had an experience that has become all too familiar. "My masseuse said to me she can't run her business here anymore because it's so expensive to do business in New York," Regan said. "And I'm hearing this over and over."

She counts herself lucky to have come to her senses about the place. "New York is like a bad relationship that you can't get out of, because you still think the sex is good," the head of ReganMedia said. "Well, I think the sex is pretty good in L.A. too!"

Yes, the moment has finally arrived. The publisher and multimedia producer said Tuesday that she has pulled the trigger on the move to Los Angeles that she announced just over a year ago. The headquarters of her company will begin relocating next month and should be complete by June 1, she said, noting that some of the 30 staffers who will be making the move are waiting for children to finish the school year before heading west. "By the summer many will be settled in," she said.

The ReganMedia offices will occupy the 10th floor of a building at 10100 Santa Monica Blvd. in Century City, according to Suzanne Wickham, a veteran Los Angeles-based publicist for the publishing industry who will become the company's media director on May 1. "Right now they're working to reconfigure the office space and get it ready," Wickham said.

For Regan, those who question whether a publishing company can survive, let alone thrive, outside of Manhattan need to open their eyes. As she put it, "the dirty little secret in publishing that nobody talks about" is that nearly 50% of the staffs at major houses turn over annually because young, talented editorial assistants cannot afford to live in the city. They can't even afford to eat lunch at the pricey restaurants that surround her corporate offices in Midtown Manhattan, she said. Yes, she admits, life in L.A. is not exactly cheap, either, or problem-free. But life in New York, she has concluded, "is unbelievably exhausting; you're exhausted all the time."

And so, Los Angeles. Regan has embraced the city wholeheartedly, and with none of the stereotypical New York condescension. She was keen to correct the impression in an earlier newspaper article that, missionary-like, she wants to open a salon-ish "cultural center" in her soon-to-be-adoptive city. "I never said I wanted to bring culture to Los Angeles. I said the opposite. I said New Yorkers seem to think there's no culture in Los Angeles, and they're dead wrong."

Among the culture the publishing wing of ReganMedia has produced are bestsellers like "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" by Jenna Jameson and "Juiced" by Jose Canseco. The company has also published books by Wally Lamb, Iraq war Gen. Tommy Franks and Michael Moore. Regan, 52, has also been an executive producer for the reality television series "Growing Up Gotti" and is currently developing a reality show about Wafah Dufour, a niece of Osama bin Laden, who is a pop singer and musician.

Indeed, the brash, notoriously sharp-tongued Regan was once included on a list of the 50 most loathsome people in New York compiled by the New York Press, an alternative weekly; her divorce from her second husband was a nasty, drawn-out affair that was covered by the tabloids. She is known to put relentless pressure on writers to finish books quickly and is impatient with employees who don't share her passion for bare-knuckled competition.

"I can't imagine anyone leaving a good job in New York to follow her out to Los Angeles," sniffed one high-level publishing executive who is familiar with Regan's track record.

Friends tell a different story, suggesting that Regan is often judged more harshly, and unfairly, because she is a tough-talking woman who competes on an equal level with men. Even her worst enemies concede her legendary successes: At Simon & Schuster, Regan's former employer, she pioneered a new wave of celebrity books, commissioning runaway bestsellers by Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh.

It hasn't been easy selling some of her colleagues on the move, the publisher admitted. Cal Morgan, editor in chief of ReganBooks, was initially quite skeptical.

"He went to Yale, he's a tweedy intellectual publishing type, and when I asked him what he thought of this move, he looked at me and said, 'Are you crazy?' " Regan said. "But I said he should come out to Los Angeles for a few days, and he loved it. If Cal Morgan can be moved by the Hollywood Hills and the architecture in Los Angeles, so can others."

Morgan, for his part, is talking the talk of a true believer. "A lot of people in publishing have been in this setting, in New York, for a long time. The mission of this business is to reflect the full breadth of American culture, but it all takes place on a few square miles of Manhattan." He was sold, he said, by Regan's "very forward-looking" idea that the company needed a different vantage point. He and his wife, Cassie Jones, who is ReganBooks' managing editor, have begun checking out Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Wickham, the new media director, noted that Regan will still be retaining an office and some staff in New York. But contrary to conventional wisdom, which holds that a publisher needs to be near agents and other publishers, Wickham said the move to California makes sense from a publishing standpoint. "There are so many opportunities on the West Coast that New York publishers do not always recognize, and being a resident of Los Angeles for a long time, I see them." West Coast personalities, Wickham said, would naturally gravitate to a company headquartered here. "For us, it's going to be the best of both worlds."

Regan said she will begin commuting to Los Angeles next month. The publisher added that she is prevented from leaving New York immediately because she is taking care of a niece's 4-year-old daughter and a court order bars the child from being taken out of the state. Regan said the problem should be resolved by June.

She concedes that Los Angeles has its share of problems. "But you have to believe in change. I can't get up every day and get into a cab or the subway and do battle. In New York, it's been constant warfare all the time. I need a break."



If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
While perusing through the Calendar Page of the LA Times I came upon that article and found it quite amusing, thinking to myself how I used to be like one of those cynical, jaded types that regarded LA as nothing more than a cultural Siberia akin to the dystopian jungle seen in the movie Blade Runner... only to be pleasantly surprised (when I first made the bold move to the LA region 5 years ago from the Eastcoast) by the myriad of cultures, diverse languages, lively architecture, multitude of museums, interesting topography, art galleries of all spectrums imaginable that abounded the city.

Yes, LA has its fair share of problems but there is so much untapped potential here in this city just waiting to happen or for the sake of skyscraper enthusiasts like myself, more skyscrapers queing up in line, getting ready to be developed throughout the city. But, as LA becomes more vertical or New York-like in that regard, I hope LA retains its idiosyncratic, defiant, and open attitude towards always reinventing itself, which makes the city so different, appealing and refreshing in my opinion.

P.S.
The Reason I posted this article was not intended to incite any type of bi-coastal feuding or City vs. City drama between New Yorkers and Angelenos. I just simply wanted to give LA ( IMO, one of the most misunderstood cities in the world) some love....So hopefully this thread will not turn into a pissing game between forumers of both cities=D
 

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My regards exactly. This city has so many "hidden" gems that even the natives don't know about. The potential here and throughout the metro area is frankly, scary.
 
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