PETERSEN VET VITALE LEAVES AS CHIAT EXEC NAMED TO NEW POST

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Petersen Publishing Co. surprised observers last week with its hiring of TBWA Chiat/Day executive Stacey Lippman and the departure of Neal Vitale, president-chief operating officer. And Chairman-CEO James Dunning promised there will be more such news in coming weeks.

"We will be making announcements on two more partner-level hires in the next four weeks," he said, adding that the team coming in will be able to shepherd the publishing company further into other media platforms such as radio and TV.

LOOKING AT PRODUCTION COS.

Petersen is negotiating to acquire two broadcast production companies, said Mr. Dunning, to produce shows based on Petersen titles, and events for both cable and broadcast TV.

The desire to increase Petersen's TV presence is a key reason for luring Mr. Lippman, 49, former corporate media director and managing partner of TBWA Chiat/Day, New York, into Petersen. The responsibilities of Mr. Lippman, who has served on Petersen's board since March, will include developing marketing programs and branding opportunities for company properties.

Mr. Vitale's sudden and unexpected departure was coincidental with Mr. Lippman's arrival, not related, said Mr. Dunning.

His duties will be divided among senior management and no replacement will be named.

Mr. Vitale, who could not be reached for comment, was a part of the investment and management team put in place when he, Mr. Dunning, D. Claeys Bahrenburg and Willis Stein & Partners purchased Petersen Publishing in September 1996.

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