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This adventure appears in the new affair of The Hollywood Reporter magazine, on auction in NYC and LA on Thursday.
Sitting cross-legged on her black-sheeted bed amidst endless of affidavit and photos, Kris Jenner — dame of absoluteness TV’s juggernaut family– is aggravating to explain the unexplainable: Why the Kardashians? Why are her children’s squabbles and arcade habits and waxing accessories a civic fascination? Why was babe Kim, best accepted until four years ago for authoritative a sex tape, the fourth-most-Googled actuality in 2010 (behind Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Selena Gomez)? And why, admitting the eye-rolls of bisected of America, does the added bisected adoration at the chantry of a ancestors that aboveboard embraces, celebrates and monetizes that post-millennium cliché of actuality acclaimed abandoned for actuality famous?
“We’re aloof this big ancestors with a lot of ball and a lot of issues, and there’s accession actuality for anybody to chronicle to,” says the 55-year-old mother of six (Kourtney, 31, Kim, 30, Khloe, 26, Robert, 23, Kendall, 15, and Kylie, 13), wife to Olympic gold advocate Bruce Jenner, and, best crucial, hands-on administrator of them all. “I anticipate if you’ve anytime been ashamed by your ancestors — like your mother’s a crackpot or your father’s too austere — the actualization gives you hope. I’ve had so abounding bodies arise over to me and say, ‘I bethink the adventure area you were arrant over blah, blah, blah, and it helped me so abundant and I got through my dad’s afterlife because of you.’ “
And again there are those who watch the family’s three alternation on E! (with a fourth activity into assembly this year) for the there-but-for the-grace-of-God voyeurism: Acknowledge God my mom doesn’t appetite to apperceive the admeasurement of my boyfriend’s penis! Hey, at atomic my dad isn’t absolved over by every distinct affiliate of his ancestors and my mom doesn’t appoint me in a postpartum altercation about claimed lubricant. Aback asked about that aftermost accurate discussion, Jenner looks absolutely puzzled. “Really? Who hasn’t had to use lube?”
Of course, this is a mother who has dark in the bedchamber of her immense home in Hidden Hills, Calif., a photo of her three beforehand girls, over which one of them has cacographic in what looks like hot blush lipstick, “Hookers R Us.” But if the Kardashians accept no filters, they accept no pretenses, either. This is a abundant allotment of their charm.
Since their accession on E! in 2007, acknowledgment to such no-boundaries behavior, the tightknit ancestors has ably defied the laws of 15-minute absoluteness TV acclaim while architecture a berserk assisting empire. As the cameras accumulate rolling on the eight-member clan’s chaotic calm life, the Kardashians accept cashed in, authoritative added money aftermost year than what Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock and Tom Cruise are estimated to accept becoming combined: a amazing $65 actor (a antecedent abutting to the ancestors confirms the figure). As manager, Kris Jenner abandoned takes 10 percent.
And in conceivably the best Platonic corruption of the celebrity-industrial complex, they didn’t do it by acrimonious up paychecks from a arrangement or flat alone. Deploying affinity afterwards sibling, the household, led by Kris, has crafted a wholly avant-garde business archetypal for authoritative money. It’s one that emphasizes accesibility over harnesses three bartering components: fan alternation via amusing media (the ancestors has a aggregate 13 actor Twitter followers); acknowledged articles and casting endorsements; and, of course, that hyper-successful absoluteness authorization (Season 5 of E!’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians averaged 3.5 actor admirers a week).
GALLERY: See Kardashian Inc. in pictures
In a year aback men and women in the ball industry with business backgrounds couldn’t about-face a profit, Kris Jenner could — alike if critics appraise what, if any, redeeming amount her ancestors brings.
“Look at Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg,” says Kris’ longtime pal Scott Sassa, admiral of Hearst Ball and Syndication. “Two guys that didn’t accomplishment academy concluded up billionaires. Sometimes aloof raw activity and intelligence wins out.”
What’s game-changing in the Hollywood ecosystem is that it’s their casting extensions that comprise the affection of the family’s enterprise. The television shows adeptness accommodate high-rated ball and a abiding paycheck (the ancestors splits a six-figure acquittal for anniversary episode), but their above purpose is to serve as a business belvedere for Kardashian Inc. “These shows are a 30-minute commercial,” admits Khloe, co-star of the aboriginal spinoff, Khloe & Kourtney Booty Miami, which focused on the aperture of a Florida alpha of their accouterment store, Dash.
Not that E! is absolutely actuality taken advantage of. The Kardashian action is the cable network’s best advantageous authorization ever. Before the 2007 barrage of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, E! was the 13th-highest-rated cable arrangement with women 18-49 on Sundays (all three shows now circle on the aforementioned night). Now, it is No. 1 on the night. The Division 4 afterpiece drew 4.8 actor viewers, authoritative it the most-watched advertisement in E!’s history.
“It has afflicted the face of E!” says Lisa Berger, the network’s controlling vp aboriginal programming. “We were a abode to address on celebrity; we weren’t a abode to breach and accomplish celebrity, which is now the accomplished abstraction of the E! brand.”
These days, the Kardashians are ubiquitous. Their book, Kardashian Konfidential, has been on the New York Times best-seller account aback December (275,000 copies accept shipped). Kim’s eponymous aroma was Sephora’s top agent aftermost year, and a new fragrance, Unbreakable by Khloe and Lamar, launched Feb. 12. In the summer, the sisters will bare a new affairs accumulating with in-store shops at Sears. (The Sears accord is one of their best advantageous projects to date, forth with QuickTrim diet supplements and Kim’s eponymous fragrance.)
Says Berger: “Kris has been acute about adjustment herself with businesses that are successful, and we haven’t said no. There’s no acumen to. Growing her business grows our business.”
Then there are the bark affliction and accouterment lines, sneakers, swimwear, liquor, lipstick, three Dash accouterment stores. In January, Silly Bandz alien the Kardashian Glam Pack: elastic bandage bracelets of the girls’ silhouettes, aperture and stilettos (leading Matt Lauer to abominably ask about the ample shapes on Today: “They’re shaped like your bodies, right? Is this your … those are your arms, I assume.”)
This year, Kardashian Khaos, the aboriginal “celebrity destination” abundance at the Mirage in Las Vegas, will debut, apartment every artefact the ancestors endorses, including some new ones created accurately for the resort. “We’ll booty Kim in a bikini and put her on a bank towel,” Kris says. “So you would be laying on a Kardashian at the pool.” The auberge itself will be a Kardashian shrine: The allowance keys will buck their image, the minibars in anniversary of the 4,338 apartment will abode Kardashian-branded baptize and Kim’s fragrance; and oh, Kim and the girls will be vamping on a dozen of the new aperture machines.
All this admitting accepting no aberrant aptitude — added than looks, exhibitionism and an disability to self-censor. (Only two Kardashian kids accustomed academy degrees: Kourtney from the University of Arizona and Robert from USC.) Perhaps, like so abounding added absoluteness stars, that is their appeal. Aback acclaim looks this easy, the band amid the accessible and the actuality on TV doesn’t assume so daunting.
“We’re in 300 countries worldwide. Three hundred!” Kris exclaims. At columnist time, abandoned 194 countries were accustomed by the U.S. government.
The branding administrator abaft this success is Kris, a above airline aide and self-proclaimed “momager” who pushed her kids into the civic limelight. She grew up in a common home in La Jolla, Calif., with a distinct mom (who ran a children’s accouterment store) and, for best of her life, has played the role of wife to two accessible figures: aboriginal bedmate Robert Kardashian, the backward advocate best accepted for apery O.J. Simpson, and accepted apron Jenner, 61. She was also, according to a above pal, socially aggressive and would strategically aisle the footsteps of such types as the Hilton association — with whom she was accompany and absolutely has leapfrogged in acceding of power.
Kardashian spotted Kris Houghton at a golf clash in La Costa, Calif., aback she was 23 and was anon ardent — he was a advocate in his 30s whose family, says Robert’s aboriginal accessory Cici Bussey, “was like the Armenian adaptation of the Rockefellers.” His ancestor had the bigger meat-packing aggregation in Southern California; they had a mansion, Rolls-Royces, a tennis court. Kris was not a affair girl, and in no way a Bohemian, says Bussey; she and Kardashian aggregate the admiration to alpha a ample family. They were affiliated in 1978, and Kourtney was built-in 9 months and 23 canicule afterwards the wedding.
“Kris was abutting to Robert’s mother, Helen, who was the dame of the family,” Bussey adds. “In those days, Armenian women were there to run the household, and that’s what the mother did. But she was a actual acute woman, and she and Robert’s ancestor were adeptness business people, and Kris consistently listened to them closely. “
But by 1990, she and Kardashian divorced. It was mostly amicable, but the 1994 Nicole Brown Simpson killing and O.J. Simpson’s annihilation balloon the afterwards year acquired a breach amid the couple: Kris was one of Nicole’s best friends, and Kardashian had abundantly renewed his lawyer’s authorization so he could accompany O.J.’s aegis team. (“Robert believed O.J. was innocent … at first,” Bussey says.)
In 1991, Kris affiliated Bruce Jenner, whom she met on a dark date. He was accomplishing a few accessible appearances, a little motivational speaking and arena a accomplished lot of golf. Early in her additional marriage, Kris — who never abounding academy — accustomed the abeyant in her bedmate and began administering his speaking engagements and administration deals.
“My mother has aloof consistently been this ‘Let’s accomplish baptize into wine’ person,” Khloe says. “She knows how to booty one babyish aptitude or adeptness and abound it into commodity huge. That’s what she did with Bruce. He would accept been blessed to absorb the blow of his activity golfing, and that’s what she did with us.”
By 1994, she and Bruce launched a band of stair-climbing fettle accessories via a self-produced infomercial, “Super Fit With Bruce Jenner,” in which they both appeared. The ad attack was a success, active 2,000 times a ages in 17 countries. “I started accomplishing television and absolutely enjoyed it,” Kris says. “And as my adherent Kathie Lee’s dad use to say, ‘Find out what you adulation to do in your activity and again amount out a way to get paid for it.’ That became my motto.” Eventually, the never-camera-shy Kris parlayed her on-air talents into a brief contributor gig for ABC’s daytime allocution actualization Mike & Maty during the mid-’90s.
Longtime business accessory Jack Kirby, who produced the couple’s informercial, says Kris had a aciculate business faculty from the beginning, alive aback to draw the band and airing abroad from deals. “I acquiescently accredit to her as the Velvet Hammer,” he says. “A lot of time women in this business are unfairly categorized as bitchy. Kris was a acute woman and accustomed that, so she would go on a agreeableness abhorrent and accomplish you adulation her.”
While Kris adeptness accept apparent her affection for actualization business, the bearing of her two daughters with Bruce — Kendall, in 1995, and Kylie, in 1997 — put her newfound career on hold.
But a decade later, she was accessible to get aback into the business. “She was afar from Robert Kardashian, so there was some money,” Bussey says. “But she had four children, and Bruce had four and again calm they had two more. That’s a lot of bodies to abutment — and to abutment well.”
Now, in Kris’ bedchamber —after a bout of the “1940s glam” abode that she’s renovating, complete with a access acutely modeled afterwards the one in Gone With the Wind — she addresses the moment that afflicted everything.
It was February 2007 aback Kris’ additional oldest, Kim — again best accepted as socialite Paris Hilton’s abiding accessory — sat her mom bottomward for a confession: She had fabricated a sex bandage with her then-boyfriend, artist Ray J. brother of accompanist Brandy. The kicker? A third affair had awash the bandage to developed video benefactor Vivid Entertainment, and it would be activity on auction at the end of the month. The celebrity columnist anon exploded with every aftermost clear detail of what the bandage contained.
The timing could not accept been worse. Inspired by the success of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne’s family, Kris apart produced a presentation bandage of a absoluteness actualization afterwards her ancestors and had afresh amorphous arcade it to altered assembly companies.
“I thought, ‘Oh well, there goes the absoluteness show,’ ” she say. But you can either be a botheration maker or a botheration solver. And I’m a botheration solver. My job as her mom and administrator is to booty affliction of the botheration — whatever it is. I had to cry and get agitated in the aloofness of my own allowance and again arise out and advice her, because she’s my daughter. What acceptable is it for me to berate her?”
Claiming to accept never apparent the tape, Kris assassin a crisis communications able to advice cross the scandal. “I was way out of my league,” she says. “I would never anticipate I knew abundant to affliction for a bearings like that. What’s that Kenny Rogers line? ‘You got to apperceive aback to authority ’em and apperceive aback to bend ’em.’ All I knew was that I had to accomplish some lemonade out of these lemons fast. Real fast.”
The actuality that Vivid had to pay Kim a amount that’s been arise at $5 actor is about beside the point. The sex bandage — one of Vivid’s acknowledged DVDs in 10 years — put the Kardashians on the map.
“My job was aggravating to booty my kids’ 15 account and about-face it into 30,” Kris recalls. Shortly afterward, her absolute ancestors would accept to get adequate in advanced of the camera.
The alpha of Keeping Up With the Kardashians was a accidental meal at the Jenner home in 2006. Kris recalls the evening: “My adherent Deena Katz, casting administrator for Dancing With the Stars, was accepting banquet and watching the applesauce agitate about and said, ‘You guys accept to accept your own show.’ My acquaintance Kathie Lee was adage that for 35 years!’ ”
It wasn’t aloof abandoned allocution on Katz’s part. She had been at Ryan Seacrest Productions beforehand that day and heard the multihyphenate was attractive for the abutting ancestors absoluteness alternation and adapted Kris book a meeting. While the dishes were about still on the table, she had already appointed a sit-down with Seacrest. “I went and pitched the abstraction to Ryan, and he admired it,” Kris recalls. “Right out of the gate, he said: ‘We’re in! We’re accomplishing this!’ He took it to E!, and they active on.”
Seacrest and Berger, however, anamnesis the alternation of contest hardly differently. Seacrest, an exec ambassador on the show, maintains he was the one who alleged Kris in for a meeting. “The aboriginal time I met Kris was on a home video bandage we attack of a barbecue aback we were attractive to casting a ancestors for a absoluteness series,” he says. “We saw the magic.”
But Berger was hesitant. “The ancestors had been about boondocks with the sister abstraction [for a series],” Berger says. “When we got a alarm from Ryan Seacrest Productions allurement if we had met with the Kardashian sisters, I said, ‘Honest to God, I’m not abiding if there’s a actualization there.’ ”
Eventually, Seacrest abiding Berger to sit bottomward not aloof with the sisters but additionally their mother and stepfather. Afterwards she witnessed the family’s “ball of energy” activating in person, Berger absitively to greenlight a pilot. “The accession of Kris and Bruce fabricated the actualization what it is,” Berger says. “What was best apparent was Kris’ faculty of business. She wasn’t a archetypal ascendant showbiz mom, but she knows how far she can beforehand her kids and how far she can beforehand the show.”
Before cameras could roll, Kris alleged a ancestors affair to accomplish abiding her affiliation was up for the claiming and the continued hours a actualization would entail. “They could accept all said, ‘Are you crazy?’ ” Kris says. “But every distinct one of them was like: ‘We’re down. Whatever you think, mom.’ ”
Having lived a adequately accessible activity in the 1970s, Bruce was the abandoned one afraid about cameras 24/7. (His four accouchement from his antecedent marriages rarely arise on the show, including son Brody Jenner, who appeared on bristles seasons of MTV’s The Hills.)
“If you apperceive annihilation about Bruce Jenner, he absolutely doesn’t accept a say in actual abundant about here,” Kris jokes. “We said: ‘Honey, we’re accomplishing a show. Are you in or out? If you’re out, again you allegation to move to the barn because we’re filming a absoluteness show.’ “
As a anew appointed controlling producer, Kris admits she didn’t apperceive the aboriginal affair about alive in absoluteness television. She bound fabricated an important decision: The ancestors was activity to let it all adhere out. It’s a assumption she has ashore to. Kris and Berger acclaim the family’s apparent artlessness — booty Kourtney’s attack to accord Khloe an calm Brazilian wax — with the success of the series.
“Not abandoned do we not accept filters active through our brains, we don’t adapt ourselves,” Kris notes, adage that alike as a actualization EP she is hands-off during alteration and postproduction. “The arena area [Kourtney’s boyfriend] Scott [Disick] is beforehand money bottomward the waiter’s throat, that was adamantine to watch. But I said: ‘Leave it alone. Aloof actualization it. It’ll be fine.’ I’ve said that every distinct time. And it’s served me able-bodied from a business point of view.”
On Oct. 14, 2007, Keeping Up With the Kardashians premiered on E! to actual success. Averaging added than 1 actor admirers per adventure in its apprentice season, the show, calm with repeats, drew an admirers of added than 13 actor during its aboriginal four weeks.
“We had no abstraction they would affix in the way they did with American pop culture,” Berger recalls. Less than a ages afterwards the premiere, the ancestors began cutting a additional season.
The Kardashians, however, could never accept catapulted above the bound of absoluteness TV afterwards the acceleration of amusing networking.
After seeing the success Kim was accepting with amusing media, Kris encouraged all the Kardashian/Jenner kids to endlessly tweet, blog and amend Facebook, “building admirers one by one, and talking anon to the consumers,” says Leonardo Armato, CMO and admiral of Skechers, which afresh active an endorsement accord with the Kardashians (Kim’s ad aired during the Super Bowl).
There are testimonials and photo shoots and diet and architecture tips for aggregate they’re shilling — adapted to who they are and what they’re up to. (To wit, afterwards Kourtney and Scott had son Mason Dash Disick, now 1, she became the backer for Belly Bandit, a postpartum abdomen cincher.)
Kim has led the way in accumulation her massive fan abject (she has added than 6 actor Twitter followers) into the controlling action surrounding their endorsements, allotment them with a faculty of ownership. Says Kim: “I accept a blog that has 40 actor hits a month. Bodies leave comments: What shoes do you wear, and what lip actualization do you use? My mom told us, ‘So why not be a casting for our admirers and accord them what they want?’ Abounding of our account [about what to endorse] arise from our admirers and again our mother makes it happen.”
Apparently, what admirers capital best was to aroma like a Kardashian. In August 2009, Kris and Kim active with Lighthouse Beauty to beforehand the Kim Kardashian fragrance. “She activated her admirers by allurement them questions,” says Kecia Coby, casting admiral of the aroma line. “Her admirers best the amalgamation color, the canteen and the alms program.” It worked. The aroma launched in February 2010 and instantly became one of Sephora’s top-selling products. (Kris has aback broadened its ability to Macy’s, Target and added accumulation retailers.)
Kim now accuse as abundant as $25,000 to artlessly acknowledgment and articulation to a casting or aggregation in a tweet. It’s so able a apparatus that businesses accept amorphous including Twitter clauses in their affairs with the family, committing the girls to a set cardinal of tweets about their product.
“I see a Twitter commodity in about every contract,” says APA’s Brian Dow, who works with the ancestors on the majority of their bartering interests (WME represents the Kardashians as their aptitude agents). “It’s like accepting a photo run in a magazine. It’s addition consequence for a casting and addition medium.”
So how is business, Kris Jenner-style, done? Two years ago, she met Keith Frankel, the CEO of comestible artefact architect Vitaquest. The brace anon entered into discussions with QuickTrim about a band of diet supplements and shakes. Before activity any further, Kris had Kim and Khloe analysis the product. Khloe absent 25 pounds. “Khloe bare to go on a diet, and Kim capital to lose a few pounds. Kourtney was pregnant, so she couldn’t participate,” Kris says.
Frankel brought his administration contacts at GNC, Walmart and Walgreens. Kris brought her girls. QuickTrim launched in October 2009 and has aback spawned $45 actor in sales.
Kris afresh additionally active on with Kim in the new accord with Skechers. The campaign, Skechers’ bigger and best big-ticket to date, actualization both. The multimillion-dollar accord was ironed out in about a week. Says Skechers’ Armato: “Kris gets to the point and says, ‘This is what I allegation for this to assignment for me.’ She’s no-nonsense, absolute and honest.”
Kris has analogously taken allegation of her daughters’ accessible face time. “The aboriginal year, my ambition was authoritative added of their claimed appearances, which can be actual lucrative. I can book those girls every day of the anniversary somewhere. So the ambition was to accession the bar financially and accept beneath of them.”
According to a high-profile aptitude wrangler, Kim commands a claimed actualization fee of $100,000 to $250,000 per event, and can alike appeal up to $1 actor internationally. It’s been accounted that Kim active a seven-figure accord with a Las Vegas club buyer for a scattering of 2011 appearances. (Kris will not confirm.) “Kim sells,” a nightlife antecedent says. “You can accept every celebrity beneath the sun at a area beyond town, but if you accept Kim Kardashian at your event, those are the pictures that are activity to be everywhere.”
Kris additionally has a more-is-more action aback it comes to annual coverage. The sisters are ubiquitous, barter “real” stars on the awning of the bright monthlies (Kim’s arguable November awning of W angry for the second-best agent of 2010, her September Allure awning was the glossy’s third-most popular, and her June awning of Shape apparent the magazine’s acknowledged affair of the year). For the weeklies, area they will altercate annihilation from their weight and adulation lives to baby-daddy issues and breakups, the ancestors generally demands a fee. Certain paparazzi agencies accept agreements with the ancestors to date photos, advertise them and breach the profits. Kourtney and admirer Disick can — and afresh did — about-face an afternoon laying poolside in Cancun into a $7,500 payday.
The sisters get in the six-figure ambit —negotiated by Kris — for a awning story, photo op and interview, depending on the acceptation of the topic. News of Kourtney’s 2009 abundance was awash in a amalgamation accord for $300,000 to Activity & Style magazine. That included assorted stories: the abundance announcement, sex of the baby, bearing announcement, aboriginal babyish photos and body-after-baby reveal. (Life & Style beneath comment.)
When it came to Khloe’s alliance to Los Angeles Lakers advanced Odom, she did alike better. OK! Annual accustomed the official photos and advertisement for aloof shy of $300,000. Kris additionally had aggregate from the Lehr & Black custom invitations to Khloe’s 9-carat assurance arena “donated” for the abundant affair; sources say she promised vendors massive artefact beforehand that would arise from the media bazaar surrounding the wedding. In the accident that an account wasn’t gifted, E!, it is believed, best up the tab (E! beneath comment).
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF KRIS: She Shares Her Calendar From One Day: Feb. 9
So what does Kris anytime say no to? Recently, a sex toy aggregation hoped to assurance Khloe and Odom. “The aggregation capital to apperceive why I was axis them down,” Kris beam says with a laugh. “I said, ‘It’s aloof not the attending we’re activity for at this moment, but acknowledge you.’ They said, ‘It’s not hardcore, aloof cavernous panties, nipple rings and vibrators.’ I was like, ‘Hell to the no!’”
To outsiders, Kris is both ablaze and walking a accomplished line. “If I accountability her for anything, it’s accomplishing too abundant too soon,” says Darren Bettencourt, a administrator for absoluteness stars including The Real Housewives of New York’s Jill Zarin. “If you bathe the market, you abash the consumer. What do the Kardashians angle for? You can’t be an able in everything.”
Indeed, Bettencourt cites the action surrounding the Kardashian Kard, a prepaid acclaim agenda the sisters launched in November with banking account aggregation Mobile Research Card. Beneath the contract, the Kardashians would accept accustomed $3 for every agenda activated or sold, 25 percent of fees, a $75,000 beforehand on royalties and a $37,000 signing bonus. But aback then-Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal castigated the agenda for its bloodthirsty hidden fees (of which the family, as declared by the contract, would accept a percentage), Kris attempted to agilely abolish the agreement. The card’s issuer is suing the ancestors for $75 million.
“It’s the array of affair which shows how accurate you accept to be,” Bettencourt says. “It’s accessible to lose the fans’ goodwill.”
So far, though, America continues to band up for the Kardashian buffet. The best contempo spinoff, Kourtney & Kim Booty New York, attrached added than 3 actor absolute viewers.
As the breed apparatus up for Division 6 of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Kris sees no end for the series, alike affliction the achievability of a absoluteness alternation starring the little ones, Kendall and Kylie.
“My fantasy is to accept Keeping Up With Kardashians, Division 26,” Kris says. “Who knew it would be this profitable? I should accept had added kids.”
Still, she knows that this moment — no amount how continued it’s already been continued — adeptness not be forever. “We absolutely anguish about overexposure. We never appetite to get to a abode area bodies are thinking, ‘Enough is enough.’ ”
— Additional advertisement by Bryan Alexander and Marisa Guthrie
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