Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Grown Up Brown Must Show He Is Still Jack the Lad

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Grown Up Brown Must Show He Is Still Jack the Lad

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN PRYNN

FEELIN' good? Not if you're a shareholder in lad meister James Brown's publishing vehicle you ain't. Last night, shares in I Feel Good - of which he is a founder and chief executive - closed marooned at 61/2p, only just above the 41/2p depths to which they plummeted earlier this year. All a far cry from the heady days after the company's highly publicised stock market listing in May 2000 when they peaked at 37p, valuing the untested business at close to ?million and making Brown a paper multimillionaire.

Such was the reputation of this curly-haired Chris Evans of the publishing world that the City was prepared to cough up millions to back what was essentially a shell company with an ego reversed into it.

Brown's rise to stardom is now the stuff of lad legend. Still in his mid-twenties, he single-handedly invented the lad magazine when he launched Loaded in 1994, creating an entire publishing genre for a generation of adolescent inadequates lacking the bottle to reach for the top shelf.

He ran a hedonistic drug and booze-fuelled editorial team that served up a diet of semi-naked women, sport and lifestyle that spawned a rack-full of imitators as Maxim and FHM followed suit.

Brown left to edit GQ for Conde Nast but the relationship ended abruptly when he ran a feature nominating a senior Nazi as one of the "20th century's sharpest men". The passing of the years, marriage and the realisation there was more to life than the bottom of a bottle led to his rebadging as a semi-responsible grownup worthy of serious backing by City suits.

Yet the company has severely disappointed. Launched with the promise of a string of new titles, IFG floated just as the most severe advertising downturn for decades was getting into its stride. It started with two titles: movie magazine Hotdog - a flop that was quickly sold - and Leeds United's official football magazine Leeds Leeds Leeds. …

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