Brady's Bunch

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When Cathie Black eight years ago purloined David Granger from Art Cooper's side at GQ to become editor of Esquire the grand old men's mag for which Hemingway and Fitzgerald wrote, had fallen on hard times. "We ran 457 ad pages that year," said Granger when we lunched at Michael's. "When David took over, it was moribund," added Publisher Kevin O'Malley. "We're about 4% ahead for the year and will hopefully hit 1,200 pages," third year in a row the monthly scores best-ever results in ads and revenue. And with a rate base of 700,000 and delivering a nice bonus, O'Malley says newsstand is flourishing. Granger came to New York out of the U. of Tennessee as a passionate Esquire reader, worked for Don Welsh (Muppet), Family Weekly, went free lance, then to Sport and Sport Inc., was with Frank DeFord at The National sports weekly, then Adweek when GQ's Cooper hired him. Publishers talk money, editors talk content, and David walked me through the current issue from the sexy Jessica Biel cover to Katrina coverage to heavy hitter Thomas P.M. Barnett from the Naval War College and his piece, "The Chinese Are Our Friends." He's revived the best-dressed list for men, refuses to use models, talks constantly about "real men...the new masculinity." Kevin says fashion/retail, auto, consumer technology and booze are their top categories. And who's the competition? "The real Pepsi-Coke battle is Esquire and GQ, with (surprising to me) Details No.3." The lad books? "They're out there and can't be ignored, but they define the bottom," says O'Malley. Does Granger have the edit budget he needs from tight-fisted Hearst? "You always want more, but I can make a magazine that wins awards and builds readership with a fraction of the budget I had at GQ." "And Scott Fitzgerald and Hem?" I asked. "We basically supported Scott, ran 27 of his stories. Hemingway had a piece in our first issue, then wrote `A letter from Cuba, A letter from Spain.' He told (founder Arnold) Gingrich, `Why not, I need a new boat.' "

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There's a "Belle Epoque Tea" Nov. 9 at the French Consulate in Manhattan where The Victorian Society Scholarship Fund salutes designer and architectural historian Pauline C. Metcalfe. Kip Forbes is the society's president.

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