If you've heard those rumors about Forbes being in play, the Forbes boys, CEO Steve and COO Tim, tell me to forget 'em. They're keeping it all in the family. Over lunch in the very capitalistic Forbes mansion on Fifth Ave., Steve said they're not being bought, merged or interested in an infusion of capital with a pledge to keep hands off. "They always say `we're just investors,' and a year later you realize you've lost power." Most convincing to me, there are already three members of the next Forbes generation on the payroll and slaving away. Brother Kip didn't join us for lunch but was sighted showing distinguished guests about. And brother Bob? Said Tim with impish delight, "He's out making a big ad sale." It must be working. At Forbes mag itself, ad pages through July 5 total 1,756, or 22.24% ahead of last year with circ solid at 921,000. Forbes' readers used to be 15% female; today it's 35%. Their FYI spinoff goes from quarterly to 6 times this year and their American Heritage celebrates 50 years in the biz with circ at 352,000. The weekly TV show and the Web site are cooking. Steve insists, "you don't have to be a huge media entity to survive." As for shedding some of their properties, the Fiji island, the digs in Morocco, Tim (he's the serious alpinist in the family) says they've kept the stuff the family enjoys doing or going to, such as Chateau Balleroy in Normandy, the Colorado spread, the yacht Highlander. Daddy Malcolm's will stipulated that No. 1 son (Steve) would take over. Does Steve have a plan of succession? "We are talking about that right now though we hope all of us will be around for a time." How did the takeover rumors get started? A source, not the Forbes boys, tells me, "Conde Nast reportedly wanted a business book and with Fortune and `Busy Week' not going anywhere, the inference was drawn." Steve passed around the good cigars and said he was pleased the presidential race was going on without him.
This Wednesday (Aug. 4) Cathy Black and Hearst launch their new shopping mag, Shop Etc. at Milk Studios Gallery in Manhattan. It'll cover "fashion, home and beauty."
Huzzah for The New York Times for promoting good reading by running, serialized in their entirety, novels like "Gatsby."