Brady's Bunch

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Want the best table, the choicest wines, the finest cuisine at a classy Manhattan restaurant? Have lunch with Ruth Reichl, anointed editor last spring of Conde Nast's Gourmet magazine. Early in the new millennium editor Reichl, who used to be the restaurant critic of The New York Times (to foodies, this is sort of like being canonized), took me to lunch at Jean-Georges on Central Park West. We tasted seven courses; sipped seven wines; and had a deuce of a time discussing Julia Child and Gael Greene, expense accounts, top writers such as Bud Trillin, Peter Maas, Pat Conroy, Spalding Gray and Jan Morris that she's brought in; why Chinese food in this country isn't very good (blame an act of Congress in the 1800s); how Ruth learned to speak fluent French (not in France but in Montreal, my old!); how she started cooking at home ("to protect myself"); how she worked for New West, then for Shelby Coffey at the L.A. Times, and nearly took a big job at The Washington Post. Ruth also writes best sellers, has been profiled by Dan Okrent for People, was personally recruited for Gourmet by James Truman, and isn't intimidated by the challenge of running a national monthly with a big staff. Not after putting out a huge food section in Los Angeles every week.

New ad VP at USA Weekend is Jim Hackett, who'd been handling national sales.

Beefing up is Cooking Light, the Southern Progress (Time Inc.) mag. It claims new MRI figures show it has added readers (now 6,688,000) "while most titles in the competitive set experienced losses . . . "

Editor Meg Duskin sends along a copy of the newly redesigned The National Voter, magazine of the League of Women Voters.

Cosmo promoted Nancy Hall Quinn to ad director.

Also at Hearst, Connie Livsey is new exec marketing director of Victoria, and Charlotte Barnard was upped to editor in chief of Hearst Special Publications.

When Myrna Blyth of Ladies' Home Journal gets her Henry Johnson Fisher Award Wednesday at the Waldorf in NY, it'll be George W.'s new pal, Elizabeth Dole, who makes the presentation.

Peter Walsh of Coogan's Bar in uptown Manhattan alerts me its Coogan's Salsa Blues & Shamrocks 5K race in the ethnically mixed nabe, will be March 5, close enough to St. Paddy's Day.

SFX Marketing, New York, named Steve Greifer senior VP-general manager of its Contemporary Marketing unit. Steve's been prez of a Chicago-based promo agency.

College Television Network, NY, promoted Pete Thomas to senior VP-integrated ad sales.

Publisher Suzanne Grimes says they're increasing frequency of Women's Sport & Fitness to 10 issues this year.

Football great Jim Brown declares he will serve his time "with dignity." Where was the old dignity when Jim was whacking out the windows of his wife's car with a shovel?

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