'TALK' PREMIERE ISSUE BOWS, LOADED WITH 101 ADVERTISERS: INAUGURAL COVER FEATURES 2 POLITICIANS, 1 ACTRESS

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The buzz about what Talk will look like finally ends, and the gossip about reaction to it begins.

Talk, the much-anticipated magazine from Tina Brown and Ron Galotti, debuts this week, packed with 126 pages of ads. The more than 800 guests expected to attend the launch party on New York's Liberty Island tonight will be among the first to receive copies of the 258-page issue.

The pied pipers of publishing have lined up 101 advertisers for their inaugural issue.

A spread from Mercedes-Benz USA was given the coveted inside front cover spot, while Compaq Computer Corp. is on the back cover. A men's fragrance ad from Giorgio Armani won the inside back cover.

Mr. Galotti, Talk's co-founder and publisher, said he planned from the start to reserve the two most important positions for a high-end automotive player and a technology advertiser. Nearly 50 ad pages lead up to the opening editorial section, "First Talk," a photo-essay of a Las Vegas boxing match.

"A magazine is more than a mixture of type and pictures," he said. "It's a compilation of all the graphic elements, of which advertising is one. And it's an important one in conveying the complexion and the feel of a magazine."

The fashion/beauty category comprises the biggest chunk of Talk's advertising, with brand names such as Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan's DKNY and Estee Lauder. Automotive, financial and Internet advertisers bought in as well, including American Express Co., barnesandnoble.com., Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Merrill Lynch & Co. and Visa International.

4-ISSUE BUY REQUIRED

In order to be in the first issue, advertisers had to agree to buy all four 1999 issues of the monthly, and to limit page units to no more than four (AA, April 26). In the next three issues, ad page counts are closer to 100 pages.

Some of the 101 advertisers -- which include smaller players who bought fractional rather than page ads -- opted for multipage buys in the first issue.

"If I had to bet, I'd say it was definitely going to be a success story," said Priya Narang, senior VP-media director at DeWitt Media, New York. "Given the way Miramax promotes products to the consumer, I think Talk is going to be more than just hype."

Miramax Films, along with Hearst Magazines, is a partner in Talk Media.

Endless speculation about who would appear on the cover ends this week. Ms. Brown, Talk's editor in chief, opted for three subjects: Hillary Rodham Clinton; Gwyneth Paltrow; and Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

The editorial mix is heavy on celebrity photos and profiles, including Rupert Everett, Drew Barrymore and Angelina Jolie. It also includes a mix of politics, with profiles of Mrs. Clinton and Gov. Bush.

Ms. Brown managed to squeeze into the back pages a John F. Kennedy Jr. piece by photographer Peter Beard, who provided photos of Mr. Kennedy as a young boy.

Mr. Beard and Lee Radziwell, Mr. Kennedy's aunt, were once a couple. Talk closes with a note from Ms. Brown on the back page, the first line of which states,

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