Brady's Bunch

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"On the business side it's been a challenging year," said Paul Caine, the latest publisher of Time Inc.'s biggest money-maker, People magazine. "Ad pages right now are down about 4%, but our year-end double issue is our biggest in five years and we should be up in the fourth quarter. People ad categories that showed the best gains: alcohol, travel and food. We will remain the [industry] leader in both ad pages and revenue." Paul and Steve Sachs, VP-consumer marketing for People Group, gathered over lunch to discuss, among other things, Us magazine. "Of course it has gotten my attention," Paul said, "but over the years many magazines have gotten my attention. Us is not a direct competitor, something I sometimes wish we had. Janice (Min, Us editor) is very talented-she used to be at Time Inc., you know-and she's led the charge on the field of celebrity tabloids. Us, then In Touch, then Star; those are the cover-to-cover tabloids. We have real people, real depth. And no, Martha Nelson (People's managing editor) has gotten no orders to run more pictures, shorter stories." People's circ, Steve said, is 3.7 million, up 3% from last year, and newsstand is also 3% ahead (first half final figures for both), to 1.8 million. Claims Paul, "Our subscribers pay $113 a year while the industry averages 19 bucks or so. Our circ hasn't suffered from the advent of (a weekly) Us, and our newsstand is bigger than Us' total circulation." He's "excited about '05. It's going to be a good year. And this year People will have the Grammy exclusive, which used to belong to Wenner."

FamilyFun (Disney) Publisher Mary Beth Wright, in top seasonal form, informs me gleefully they'll boost rate base to 1.9 million in February. That means they've raised the base every year since the mag was launched in 1990.

Gourmet Publisher Giulio Capua, still preening over that National Magazine Award for General Excellence, says this was the biggest ad page year in their 63 years. They ran 1,360 ad pages, up 7.6% over '03.

Literacy Partners, spearheaded by Liz Smith, Parker Ladd and designer Arnold Scaasi, has a new "Alphabet Project." For ten grand, a corporation or individual can sponsor a single letter of the alphabet. Started Dec. 6, they've already signed up Conde Nast, Bank of America, Oprah, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, Estee Lauder, GE, Hearst, NBC and like that. Mr. Ladd says only five letters remain unsold.

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