Inaugurating 'George'

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Advertisers vote for political title with 175 ad pages

George is here and he looks good, with Cindy Crawford beneath a Washington-like white wig on the issue's September launch cover.

At a Sept. 7 media gathering in New York's Federal Hall, Hachette Filipacchi Magazines and Random Ventures, run by Executive Editor John Kennedy and Executive Publisher Michael Berman, unveiled plans for George in the room where George Washington became the nation's first president in 1789.

"If George Washington were alive today," Mr. Kennedy said, "he would probably be scandalized" if he saw the magazine.

While Hachette CEO-Chief Operating Officer David Pecker said he was originally skeptical of the title's viability, he's glad the team convinced him to back Hearst's $20 million stake in George. With six issues scheduled for 1996, and 600 pages already sold for that year, Mr. Pecker said, "George will create its own niche...as the traditional lines between Democrats and Republicans are fading."

Traditional lines, Mr. Kennedy said, are certainly fading editorially. "Culture drives politics and defines it," he said. "We want people to be on a first-name basis with the people who drive politics."

The first issue features offbeat writers like Mark Leyner, author of "Tooth Imprints on a Corndog"; a look by Mr. Kennedy at former Alabama Gov. George Wallace's politics; and a piece on first lady couture by Ms. Crawford and photographer Herb Ritts.

Sylvester Stallone's mother will write a political astrology column and celebrities will write essays on "If I Were President."

While George won't endorse 1996 presidential candidates or accept political ads, one of the 125 advertisers who contributed to the 175 pages in the launch issue endorsed the magazine as a startup hopeful for 1995-96.

Philip Guarascio, VP and general manager-marketing and advertising for GM's North American Operations, said his company advertised in the inaugural issue for three reasons: its 25- to 49-year-old audience, GM's "confidence in Hachette's commitment," and because the venture represents "an attractive business proposition for our brands."

Copyright September 1995 Crain Communications Inc.

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