Frank (magazine) - Ottawa Edition

Ottawa Edition

Bentley's expansion of the Frank franchise from its Halifax base to include an Ottawa edition in 1989, with the help of Michael Bate, proved extremely successful during its first decade of publication, as the edition quickly outsold its Maritime cousin by feeding off the void of gossip news among mainstream media in the nation's capital.

Bate subsequently bought out Bentley and his other partners to make the Ottawa edition of Frank independent of its Halifax roots, although both magazines maintained similar coverage and continued much as before.

Bate did make several changes including adding a "Remedial Media" section which printed gossip tidbits on the internal politics of Canadian media outlets. Michael Coren, whose humour column "Aesthete's Diary" was retitled "Michael Coren's Diary" after he revealed his true identity, was one of the few contributors ever to use his real name in the magazine.

The final page of the Ottawa edition of Frank also featured a humour column, usually satirizing the point of view of a real Canadian political figure such as Sheila Copps or Preston Manning. In later years, the back page column was titled "Dick Little's Canadian Beef"—Little was not a real figure, but simply a curmudgeonly character of mostly conservative views meant to satirize a typical "angry Canadian."

The Ottawa edition of Frank received notoriety in 1991 when the magazine ran a satirical advertisement for a contest inviting young Tories to "Deflower Caroline Mulroney." Mulroney's father, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, was incensed and threatened physical harm toward those responsible before joining several women's groups in denouncing the ad as an incitement to rape—the magazine maintained that it was commenting on Brian Mulroney's perceived habit of using his daughter as a political prop.

The Ottawa edition of Frank broke a number of notable stories, including being the first to publish the tale of Mel Lastman's wife's shoplifting arrest and was the only Canadian publication to cover the divorce trial of cabinet minister Paul Dick. Other Frank targets included notorious teen killer Karla Homolka, CBC Radio host Peter Gzowski, and comedian Dan Aykroyd. Frank continuously followed the marriages of personalities, such as CBC Television news anchor Peter Mansbridge with fellow journalist Wendy Mesley then with actress Cynthia Dale, and Bank of Montreal CEO Matthew Barrett with pin-up model Anne Marie Sten.

Frank frequently mocked what it saw as banal or clichéd journalistic prose, particularly that of lifestyle columnists such as Leah McLaren and Russell Smith from The Globe and Mail and Rebecca Eckler of The National Post.

Other regular features of the magazine included parody movie or television advertisements and a two-page fumetti comic which used television screenshots, usually of newscasts, to mock journalists and politicians through the use of satirical dialogue balloons.

Many of those who had been written about or "Franked," threatened lawsuits, and many issues toward the end of Michael Bate's ownership contained printed apologies as a means to warding off the expense of lawyers' fees. The magazine bit the bullet on only two legal battles—one to a Quebec judge and one to Mike Duffy, a Canadian television journalist whom the magazine deemed a "fat-faced liar" and had called "Mike Puffy" (in reference to his physical appearance). Although the magazine settled on the latter case, the legal expenses launched the Ottawa edition into a downward financial spiral.

In 2003 Bate made it known that he was looking for a buyer. A bid was soon on offer by Theo Caldwell, who had no publishing background and was apparently returning to Canada after a bid to become a Hollywood actor. Likely backed by his father, an investment adviser, Caldwell offered $150,000 for the company. Caldwell claimed to be interested in making Frank a "kinder, gentler" magazine.

A counteroffer was soon made by a group of Toronto investors led by former Globe and Mail business reporter Fabrice Taylor. After a reportedly bizarre meeting at Bate's house, he sold the magazine to Taylor's group. Taylor moved the magazine to Toronto and relaunched it in late 2003 — however, circulation dropped dramatically, and lingering financial difficulties resulting from libel lawsuits ended with the final issue on December 3, 2004. The Halifax edition was unaffected and continued publishing.

The Ottawa edition of Frank was resurrected after Bate reportedly reacquired the property from Taylor, returning the satire magazine to the nation's capital. The new ownership created an online magazine using the name, with the first issue publishing on September 27, 2005. Several features from the original printed version of the Ottawa edition were retained and a full print version returned to newsstands in late November 2005 (issues are numbered as "Volume 2"). With the print version, subscription-by-mail again became available.

The return of Frank to Ottawa coincided with the fall of the government and launch of a federal election. The Ottawa edition of Frank scooped national media by being the first to report controversial remarks by Liberal media spokesperson Scott Reid.

An announcement was sent on October 28, 2008 that the print and web versions of the publication were ceasing publication.

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