Brady's Bunch

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Bonnie Fuller and I lunched one month to the day after she took the big new job and I've never seen her as buoyant, energized and yet relaxed. With all those tabloids and fitness and other mags to supervise editorially, she remains very coolly focused on the big weekly tab Star (of which I was once the editor), making it sleeker and better. She's press-ganged the entire edit staff from Boca Raton and installed them on Park Ave., is going to better paper and a hybrid glossy cover, cutting the trim size a fraction, hiring like mad and hunting for an editor in chief. And if she gets the high profile person we were talking about, what a shocker. She's not shopping for some little brown mouse of a clerk to take orders but a powerhouse of an editor. Meanwhile, she'll differentiate Star further from the Enquirer by going all out for her female readership (90% to 95% of Star buyers are women) by emphasizing about 85% celebrity news (a fan mag, yes, but one that scrutinizes its stars), features and coverage, plus about 15% on crime stories (those with a women's angle like the Laci Peterson case). Bonnie says newsstand is already up slightly and the ads are coming in with a big new ad push planned for fashion/beauty. As for those notorious closing all-nighters of hers, she says, "Tough!" If you're in this business, they're part of the drill. "When I get to bed closing night I don't sleep anyway, but keep going over every single story in my head, then next morning, if I ever do get any sleep, I wake up and start thinking about the next issue." She reminds me a bit of the Helen Gurley Brown of a generation ago when Hearst handed her a toy called Cosmo to play around with. And we know how that worked out.

It had to happen. Now there'll be a weekly dramatic series about an NFL football team, starting Aug. 28 on ESPN and running for 11 weeks. Titled "Playmakers," it's the brainchild of 32-year-old Mark Shapiro, who heads original programming and production for the cable channel. For baseball nuts, ESPN has a two-hour documentary in October on the 100th anniversary of the Yankees.

Child's Editor Miriam Arond sends along a trade paperback they and Barnes & Noble are putting out, "Feeling Safe," how to talk to the kids about war and terrorism.

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