Negotiating has of late become a big part of pro sports. But negotiation has always been the name of the game in the SI makeup department. "We can't make everyone happy, but we do our best," says Roanne Carey, a makeup coordinator.
The five-member SI makeup crew has nothing to do with cosmetics. In fact, the only thing the makeup department makes up—and we're not making this up—is the mock-up, which is a skeleton magazine that charts what is likely to appear on each page of SI. Based on the mock-up, the editorial side of SI, which produces the articles in the magazine, and the publishing side, which sells the space for the advertisements, set out to fill the pages they have been allotted each week. But since many of the stories we cover are constantly evolving, the editors often request changes in the mock-up, sometimes adding pages to a story, other times moving ads to create space for a late-breaking story or an exceptional picture.
Similarly, because of the volatile nature of the sports world, advertisers also make frequent pleas that the makeup department must address. For example, when Michael Jordan announced his return to basketball last March, four advertisers called at the last minute to request space for ads in what they knew would be an exceptionally popular issue.
"It's a high-wire act," says production director George Baldassare, who oversees the makeup department. "Handling that pressure requires someone who knows how to be strong and when to be flexible."
That pretty well describes Carey, who came to SI in 1989 after holding such disparate posts as nursery school teacher, office manager for a clothing buyer and travel agent. "None of my friends understand what I do," says Carey, who is expecting her first child in July. "Even some of the people at SI aren't sure. One of our sales reps called me a few months ago to ask when we put the makeup on the athletes."
Which isn't to say that putting the best face on things isn't part of the job. Carey and fellow makeup coordinator Marsha Lindenman, who landed at SI after stints at PEOPLE and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, share the task of keeping the production department informed of SI's ever-changing editorial and advertising plan for the week. This sometimes includes saying, for example, that mock-up number 15 will soon be on its way, meaning that 14 previous versions have been rendered obsolete.
Makeup coordinators Carol Nelson and Karen Smith and their assistant, Regina Cochrane, help oversee transmission of the data stream that will be turned into SI pages at our six printing plants located coast to coast. This is no powder-puff task either. "One morning I received a call at 3 a.m. from the guys at our plant in Thomaston, Georgia," says Nelson. "They weren't receiving our transmission, which means they couldn't create the film needed to print the magazine." Nelson arranged for the transmission to be switched to our Dallas plant and then chartered a plane to have the film flown back to Thomaston, where the magazine was printed on schedule. "It's always exciting," says Nelson.
She's not making that up.