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I am still puzzling over Sony biggie Tommy Mottola's July 4 flag-flying at his waterfront estate in the Hamptons. The WLNG radio traffic chopper first reported he was flying "an Italian flag" atop Old Glory. About six hours later I drove past myself and, by God! it was either a very big Italian or Mexican or other tricolor flag riding smugly above a smallish Stars & Stripes. And on the Glorious Fourth. Can Tommy enlighten the troops?

Michael Klingensmith, who made his Time Inc. bones as founding publisher of Entertainment Weekly and has now been president of Sports Illustrated for 18 months, says circ is now 3.2 million. First-half ad pages were up slightly, 1,384 vs. 1,360 in '98, an Olympic year, while ad revenue rose 7%. He expects third-quarter pages to be up 15%. What of the new competition, ESPN the Magazine? Mike doesn't sound impressed. "They grossed about $50 million in their first, slightly shortened year. SI grosses $850 million. ABC suggests a decline in their newsstand sales though they're selling more subs. Our rate base is 3.5 million; their's is 700,000."

Top creative talent Sal DeVito of DeVito/Verdi was voted faculty member of the year by the School of Visual Arts in N.Y. The irreverent Sal's been an SVA instructor 15 years.

Publisher Laura McEwen tells me the refashioned New Woman (Rodale) under Editor Judith Coyne (long a key player at Cosmo) is making waves. July ad pages are up 16%, August up 15% and dollars for both are "significantly higher."

People en Espanol is going after the car biz in a big way. They set up a new post, Detroit sales manager, hiring Jerry Fisher.

I caught Jerry Della Femina's new restaurant on 54th between Park and Lex in Manhattan. It's a winner; bright, airy, cool, with entrees (burgers and lobster rolls) starting at 12 bucks. The wines can get pricy.

Speaking of price, when Hearst anointed me editor and publisher of Harper's Bazaar in 1971, I was paid 85 grand.

NOW sent out a big mailing for a "Flush Rush" campaign to get advertisers to boycott the Limbaugh show.

The great Chuck Guariglia left OgilvyOne, the direct ad O&M division, after 28 years. He'll teach, brainstorm, motivate. His phone: 732-671-0457. named Kevin McKean exec editor. He was founding ed for Money's Web site.

Rea Lubar PR in N.Y. is promoting "The Christmas Channel," Carl Sabatino's home shopping network to debut on the Internet Aug. 1. It opens in English and Chinese and shortly adds four other languages.

Nice touch, that guy buying Salinger's letters just to send 'em back.

Oh, today's dedicated young magazine execs: as she departed N.Y. for her June 26 wedding in Sun Valley, Publisher Missy Godfrey of Worth rattled off a note

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