Publisher Appointed; Talks Continue With Newspaper Companies

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The appointment last week of Peter Bauer, the former president of People magazine, to a publisher-like role at Time Inc.'s Life newspaper supplement project strongly suggests the
concept is moving toward an outright launch, which executives attending this year's Newspaper Association of America conference readily confirmed.

Active discussions
Active discussions continue with Tribune Co., Knight Ridder, McClatchy Co. and Mort Zuckerman's New York Daily News, said executives involved in the discussions. Talks were also held with Freedom Communications, which publishes dailies in suburban strongholds such as Southern California's Orange County and Scottsdale, Ariz., but these look much less likely to bear fruit.

The project is currently expected to launch this fall with a circulation of around 12 million. One marketing tagline being discussed internally, insiders said, is: "Enjoy your weekend. Enjoy Life." Prototypes of the supplement are decidedly photo-heavy and -- no surprise -- feature Life's original and still-iconic logo.

Weekend leisure activities
The title is being pitched to newspapers for distribution in Friday or even Thursday editions, which in many major dailies are bulked up with entertainment ads and listings. But one newspaper publisher who sounded lukewarm about Life cited this as a not wholly compelling selling point, noting many newspapers already produce magazine-esque sections focusing on weekend leisure activities.

But the Friday notion neatly sidesteps one of Life's thorny issues: How best to avoid the bloody Sunday battle between the big guns of Advance Publications' Parade and Gannett's USA Weekend, both of which boast circulations that dwarf what is proposed for Life. Currently, according to spokeswomen at the titles, Parade reaches 35.7 million readers through 340 papers and USA Weekend reaches 23 million at more than 600 papers. The most recent entrant into the newspaper supplement game, the homey American Profile, reaches around 6 million readers through over 1,100 smaller-town papers; like Life, it does not exclusively consider itself a Sunday product.

A Time Inc. spokesman declined to comment on Life other than to say the company is "continuing to actively develop the project."

Editor sought
Mr. Bauer's previous position as president of People was eliminated last week. He's expected to oversee ad sales for Life. Currently he reports to Time Inc.'s general manager, Andy Blau, who is overseeing the Life project. Time Inc.'s two top editorial executives, Editor in Chief Norm Pearlstine and Editorial Director John Huey, are currently trolling for a top editor.

Mr. Bauer referred a call seeking comment to a spokesman, as did Mr. Blau.

An insider said the company's been quietly looking internally to staff up other key positions at the title, even in advance of Mr. Bauer's appointment.

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