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At Fairchild, Stephanie George is preening about W's fast start with the January issue up in ad pages from 29 pages a year ago to 59 pages this time, a whopping 107% gain. She says they closed '97 up 19% in ad pages to 1,885.

What a blow! Saint Clair Pugh, who's been Liz Smith's strong right hand for 22 years, stepped down. "He wants to sleep late and write a book," says Liz. Taking over, Denis Ferrara, also a longtime aide and a good one.

At Departures (the American Express book), Jack Laschever reports its biggest January and biggest March ever for ads. First quarter shows 223 pages vs. the same period a year ago, a gain of 18%. Since Jack took over as publisher in '94, revenues are up from $10 million to last year's $26 million. To celebrate, Jack's off at month's end with Don Welsh, John Mack Carter and other vigorous publishing types for an Outward Bound trek in Nepal. I'd have gone but they're not offering sedan chairs.

Comet-discoverer David H. Levy is a new contributing editor for Parade. Busy Mr. Levy has discovered 21 comets including (in partnership) the Shoemaker-Levy 9 Comet that banged into Jupiter. His first science article appeared yesterday.

Linda Mason of Details (and wasn't she Bing Crosby's flame in "Holiday Inn"?) says the "Mondo Hollywood" March issue carries 117 ad pages, up 7% over the month last year.

Jim Sammartino is the new ad director of Hearst's Country Living. He'd been New York sales chief for Reader's Digest and a good one.

In Malibu between El Nino storms, CurtCo Freedom Group named John Dickinson VP-edit director of Home Office Computing and Small Business Computing & Communications mags.

Hot Men's Health mag promoted Deborah Cavanagh to associate publisher reporting to Sean Flanagan.

Fascinating new niche monthly due out in April called Pierless from husband-wife publishing team of Ellen and John Bollinger. It'll cover the burgeoning water ferry commuting firms and services already carrying 25,000 daily passengers (with good demographics) in and around New York. For info, call Ellen Bollinger at (732) 872-2270.

Boulder, Colo.-based Ski named Joe Cutts Eastern editor. He's a Vermonter. But has Joe ever, as I have, schussed the dreaded "seven turns" of the "Nosedive" at Stowe?

Brian Doyle tells me his Colonial Homes just closed "our best issue in four years" with 51 ad pages. It's the April/May magazine.

Gotta love Steve Brill. New York reports Steve's new media magazine won't launch until June, but he's already got a feud going with New York Observer owner Arthur Carter over Steve's hiring of Carter's columnist Lorne Manly. Brill claims Arthur compared this to hiring away "friend's help," nannies and the like. Arthur denies the comment.

Meanwhile, in the Observer, a loving and lovely reminiscence of his recently departed mother by the brilliantly acerbic Michael Thomas.

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