The Buzz

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Viacom's Mel Karmazin proudly defends CBS' (his!) hard-line policy in last year's upfront-and hints he might go that way again this spring. CBS withheld inventory and largely refused to offer price concessions, choosing to gamble on the scatter market. "One of the things we learned is the money comes," Karmazin said at a March 26 event. "Either the money comes in the upfront or the money comes in scatter." It did this year, but how about next?

Hugh Hefner stands behind his empire despite financial straits: "There's a new fascination with things Playboy," he told a reporter. "We're back." Wall Street may not agree, but the mag's been all over Main Street: Miss Long Island gave up her crown to pose; a "women of Enron" spread is in the offing; and Fox is prepping a search-for-a-centerfold special. Playboy's biggest fan may be NBC exec Jeff Zucker. Playmate "Fear Factor" ran at the Super Bowl halftime and on April 7 "Playmates expose their intelligence" on "Weakest Link."

BONNIE FULLER's boosting newsstand numbers at Us Weekly but, oh, the lost sleep. Closes stretch well into the wee hours. Assistant Managing Editor Chad Anderson resigned for the genteel pastures of Richmond magazine, and Managing Editor Maura Fritz quit with no stated destination. A memo from Editorial Manager Lucia Ware is unlikely to cheer staffers: If you work past 2 a.m., you may come in to work after 12 noon-that same day.

contributing: jon fine

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