The Buzz

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SO MUCH for the thought that a little bit of TV pixie dust and a strong brand name can lift any magazine to lofty heights! That sound you heard was Hearst Magazines and Walt Disney Co. shuttering their co-venture Lifetime on Sept. 7, a mere year and a half after launch.

For a title with mass-market ambitions-the mag aimed for new-school women's service, like Time Inc.'s Real Simple-Lifetime had an odd invisibility in the market. Just see how the print-media-obsessed Romenesko blog put it in its headline: "Hearst, Disney fold Lifetime mag. Remember it?" Insiders say snagging A-List stars for the cover was tough. (Thus a vicious cycle of low newsstand sales begetting more troubles attracting A-list stars begetting, etc.) Ad buyers never warmed to the title. The mag had two top editors in its short life, and presumed cross-platform ad synergies `twixt TV and print simply didn't happen.

"People want things to deliver sooner, rather than later," said Susan Plagemann, Lifetime's publisher. Indeed, there may now be short-term mag "hits"-with finite shelf-lives-rather than slow-building franchises that pump out profits for generations, like, say, Sports Illustrated. Lifetime mag leveraged a famous name in order to get a quick hit-well, live by a precept, die by a precept. We'll see if today's top-selling celebrity mags prove to be like the Beatles- an annuity delivering significant long-term sales-or merely Freddie and the Dreamers.

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