Toni Morrison's writing her first ever-children's book for Disney to come out this fall. It's titled "The Big Box" and there'll be a second, "The Mean People," to appear in 2001. So I learned over lunch at the Four Seasons with young Steven Murphy, who was promoted in April to head the newly renamed and reorganized Disney Publishing Worldwide. At which time a photo appeared of Disney chief Michael Eisner with, not Steve but Tom Murphy (70ish longtime chairman of Capital Cities and ABC). I asked Steve how he felt seeing the "wrong" Murphy being saluted. "Don't they say all ink is good ink?" was the cheerful reply. The former Angel Records (EMI) prez and Simon & Schuster exec ("I loved books and wanted to be Maxwell Perkins" but ended up selling foreign rights) briefed me: Buena Vista Publishing is absorbed into Disney Publishing Worldwide; Fairchild pubs (such as the hot W) and Hyperion (books) stay under Robert Iger; a series of "Winnie the Pooh" books for first readers to learn at home has been launched ("the writing comes first; then we fit Winnie into it"); 6-to-12-year-olds are being targeted by Disney Children's Book Group (second largest kids' book publisher); and Discover will be edited "more through the general interest lens, less for the high school science club." Murphy's wife, former Parents Editor Ann Pleshette Murphy, is also busy, busy, appearing regularly on "GMA" and doing a book on motherhood for Knopf. They have two kids.
Also in a briefing mode, Hearst's Anne Sutherland Fuchs tells me Marie Claire and Redbook ad pages year to date both up 12%; Healthy Living, with its 300,000 rate base, goes this year to six times; the May Town & Country was (with 156 ad pages) largest issue for the month since '89; Victoria for May was their largest revenue issue ever; and the July Harper's Bazaar (with its tribute to the late Liz Tilberis) will run double the ad pages of a year ago. Proceeds ("100%") go to Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.
Fascinating Business Week suggestion that relations between co-CEOs Sandy Weill and John Reed of merged Citigroup are so "frayed" the Arabs may have to mediate! Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talai is the biggest stockholder, owning nearly 5%. The cool Mr. Weill looked perfectly at ease last time I saw him lunching at the Four Seasons.
Big doings at South Street Seaport in Manhattan Thursday where Better Homes & Gardens hails the summer solstice. Sure to be there, Editor Jean LemMon, Bill Kerr, Chris Little and any number of druids.
Palm Springs Life hired lifestyle columnist Susie Coelho.
House & Garden adds Assoc. Publisher Shelley Steinberg.
Seeking corporate underwriting for their oral history TV documentary about the Marines in WWII, are former jarhead Dean Henney and sailor Peter Finn, stout