"News Goes Crazy for Senate Hearings: MEDIAGATE," proclaims the tabloid cover of the Harvard Lampoon's latest project, which officially went on sale last week in bookstores around the country.
Mediagate, which goes for $12.95 from the Atlantic Monthly Press, followed last year's successful USA Today parody. Former Vice President William L. Oakley '88 of the Lampoon, a semi-secret social club that occasionally publishes parodies, said the McPaper spoof sold 1.2 million copies.
Although officially released last week, Mediagate has been in stores since August. Local reports on sales vary. Lampoon President Jonathan F. Fernandez '89 said Mediagate was selling "extremely well."
Rick Finnegan, night manager at Paperback Booksmith on Brattle St., said, however, that the magazine "hasn't sold as we expected it to." Only 12 copies are gone from the store's shipment of 95, he said.
Sales are slightly better at the Harvard Bookstore, where employee Stephanie Marcus said 22 copies had sold in the last two months.
Oakley attributed the current slow sales to the fact that Mediagate has not yet been publicized or reviewed. David S. Cohen '88, last year's Lampoon president, said the book "looks like it will be quite a big seller," adding that bookstores have ordered 500,000 copies.
At Atlantic Monthly Press, spokes- man Ann Godoff, said she had no definitefigures on sales, saying only that 500,000 bookswere printed and that reports on sales were good.David Mirsky '90 at the Lampoon said thatMediagate is expected to gross $1 million.
Mediagate may have some trouble equalling lastyear's USA Today parody sales, which grossed $2million according to Mirsky and was described byCohen as "one of our most successful projects."Last year's newspaper format was quite differentfrom Mediagate, a 260-page paperback.
Maya Forbes '90 of the Lampoon said that lastyear's newspaper parody was more marketable than abook. "The USA Today parody sold great. It wascheap...$2.50...It was colorful and bright witheasy-to-read short pieces." Mediagate, on theother hand, is a thematic book.
The premise, originated by the Lampoon staff,is a Senate investigation uncovering "all thestupid ideas and the retarded plans that came out[of the media] and that the media tried to hide,"according to Forbes.
The six-week investigation explores theblunders of magazines, audio, movies, newspapers,television and books, with "transcripts" fromhearings and clips of "evidence" such as "TeenBeat Interview: George Shultz" and "The Dick VanShow," described by Forbes as "Dick Van Patten andDick Van Dyke...they drive around in the Dickvan."
Fernandez summed up Mediagate as "a book thatexposes the giant conspiracy in the media today.