Cover Story: Reanimating Omni Magazine
Earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival, a feature-length documentary called Filthy Gorgeous: The Extraordinary World of Bob Guccione premiered. The film tells the story of the adventurous and provocative Penthouse magazine founder and aims to go beyond the common image of Guccione—that of a gold-chain wearing pornographer—and discover a more complex figure.
After building a media empire and amassing a fortune, Guccione died nearly penniless. His wild investments—one in a nuclear-fusion reactor—ultimately led to his financial ruin, but also reveal an untold side of the man: a man who explored the arts and sciences with abandon and one desperate to know more about the mysteries of the world around him. This interest led Guccione and his business partner and future wife Kathy Keeton to co-found Omni, a science fiction magazine published from 1978 to 1996.
Omni was much more than just sci-fi, exploring real science, technology, computing, UFOs, robotics, medicine and astronomy and boasting among its contributors Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Joyce Carol Oates. In fact, the term "cyberspace" was coined by William Gibson in his novelette Burning Chrome, published in a 1982 issue of Omni.
The magazine left a lasting impression on readers. Many see it as a precursor to Wired. And though Omni's circulation grew as high as 850,000 and for a period went from 6 to 12 issues per year, it ceased publication abruptly when Keeton died.
But now, 35 years after Omni was first published and against the forces of nature, the magazine is being reanimated. The defunct publication is being revived by Jeremy Frommer, the same New Jersey entrepreneur who financed Filthy Gorgeous. Christened Omni Reboot, the project aims to connect a rich publishing legacy to future triumphs.
Frommer is a man with a varied background himself. Currently he's CEO of Jerrick Ventures, the company behind the Omni re-launch. He's also spent time on Wall Street, founded a financial software development firm, and owns a trucking company. Yet, how Frommer got involved with Omni's second life has nothing to do with finance, trucking or software, but rather a chance encounter with a storage locker and an opportunity to realize his inner nerd.
Denis Wilson is the content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzes and reports on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aims to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.