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Lunch with Bob Guccione Jr. is never banal. There we were at San Pietro in Manhattan where Bob (now 43), with a torn knee tendon, gamely had his right leg up on a chair, and was dispatching the plat du jour out to his chauffeur at the curb, while showing me his new men's every-other-monthly Gear, which along with a cover story and nifty photos of Daryl Hannah, features a regular column by his friendly parish priest. After four issues, Bob says, the thing is getting up to speed, though he's looking for an exec or two to get some more ads in the book and recently lost an art director and hired as movie critic the novelist Bret Easton Ellis. No, he has enough priests, thank you. Asked about events at rival books, Bob said, of course Details will now be Maxim -ized.

A housing boom? Anne Triece reports Metropolitan Home just put out its biggest March/April issue ever, up 14% over '98, with 127 ad pages. While Colonial Homes Publisher Brian Doyle says the almost 25-year-old book was ahead 30% in ad pages during '98 vs. '97.

Signal flags flying at Santa Barbara where Aqua named Jay Klanfer publisher and Charmian Tallman associate. Aqua's about, well, water. And watery lifestyles.

Ole! to Carlos Lamadrid, just promoted to ad director of Town & Country.

Saveur is having a good month: new advertisers like Tiffany and a "dining out" story in The New York Times about its cover price going to six bucks.

Is Terry McDonell the answer? Men's Journal (Wenner) up 56% in newsstand last year (according to ABC) and ad pages ahead 13% in the first quarter, both under Editor Terry.

New art director at Forbes, succeeding retiring legend Everett Halvorsen, is Robert Mansfield.

Let's hear it for Mode, celebrating a second anniversary. It's the hot mag for women of a certain size and shape.

New director of marketing and communications for Meigher's Garden Design and Saveur is Stephanie Sandberg, formerly at The New Yorker.

Steve Brill sent along a transcript I'd not seen of Dan Rather telling Larry King he thought a merger of CBS News and CNN (reported on by Brill's Content), "would absolutely establish the world's premier news-gathering organization."

Bermuda Dept. of Tourism reviewed 32 ad and PR agencies before awarding the PR work to Lou Hammond and her Manhattan PR operation.

Entertainment Weekly, that onetime flop, is nearing 1.5 million in circ, topping its ad base by 100,000.

Chris Frohock joined Meredith Corp.'s American Park Network as marketing services director.

Weather Channel hired Dee Dee Atta to direct plans and development. She'll also check the rain bucket.

The very funny Frank DeCaro, who writes for everyone from The New York Times to TV Guide (and nicely, too), has an Oscars special of his own on Comedy Central

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