Lunched with dapper, mustachioed David Pecker, who used to run Hachette for the French and now with partners such as Roger Altman, owns the tabloid weeklies, and some nifty small mags besides. Peck was up from Boca for a few days and over grilled bass at the Four Seasons was telling me, yes, he well may help Maer Roshan, former No. 2 to Tina at Talk, launch a brand new magazine. It'll skew younger than Talk, apparently has ex-HBO bigwig Michael Fuchs as backer, and would be published and distributed by Pecker's company following a couple of trial issues. Meanwhile, David says Enquirer and Star are both doing pretty well, with ad revenues actually a major contributor for the first time (circ still produces more dough). The message salesmen hammer home: Star is celeb-oriented, Enquirer is the investigative reporting partner. Ad sales headquarters in Manhattan but for the first time there's a muscular sales force in L.A. and Chi. What has he learned about tabs? Negative doesn't sell on newsstands. Put down Chelsea Clinton for boozing it up, sales plummet; report she's in love, sales zoom. And remember that very first anthrax attack that killed a photo editor at his shop? It seems the poor photo editor's wife is a Florida realtor who found rental digs for three of the 9/11 hijackers (now all happily dead). And the FBI, says Peck, concluded the Enquirer and Star were so often talked about in local circles, the terrorists assumed attacking them would hit the heartland of America, in ways striking NBC or The Times would not. The unproved conclusion, pals of the hijackers mailed the anthrax after the attack, only later targeting network news and N.Y. papers. True? Maybe not, but great tabloid stuff.
Interesting joint venture between Business Week and USA Today, a personal finance edit supplement starting in October.
Rev. Al Sharpton heading for India/Pakistan on a "peace mission?" The world is saved!
Met with Beth Brenner and Lucy Danziger, pub & ed of Self, at Michael's. More about this next week but they say circ now tops 1.3 million and ad pages are up, too.
Adieu to Nancy White, a swell lady who edited Harper's Bazaar. When I took over in 1971 Nancy gave me sage counsel about Hearst. "If you want a refrigerator or a TV in your office, ask for it now while you're new." She was right.