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In a company where palace intrigues abound, last week's round of changes at Conde Nast Publications stood out from the norm in that no heads rolled.

The orderly transition was triggered when, as expected, Exec VP John Brunelle, 69, announced he was going to retire at yearend (AA, Sept. 26). That cleared the way for Senior VP-Corporate Marketing Jack Kliger, 47, to move up to Mr. Brunelle's job.

Several years ago, Mr. Kliger was wooed by Hearst Magazines when he was still the publisher of Glamour. Instead, Mr. Kliger opted to stay within S.I. Newhouse Jr.'s kingdom and last week was his reward. He now is in the inner circle as a close adviser to Mr. Newhouse and Steven Florio, named president of Conde Nast in January.

"The only reason we're making these changes now is because after 30 years, John Brunelle decided he wanted to retire," Mr. Florio said.

Media observers, however, note that of the 12 Conde Nast titles tracked by the Publishers Information Bureau, only five showed ad page gains through August.

Michael Clinton, 41, GQ publisher for the past six years, succeeds Mr. Kliger as senior VP-corporate marketing.

"It will be fun to work with [Mr. Kliger] again," said Mr. Clinton, who served as GQ ad director when Mr. Kliger was publisher.

GQ, along with most of the titles in the men's magazine category, is in an ad page slump this year as fashion and retailing have been slow to emerge from the recession. Through August, GQ's ad pages were down 11.9% to 730.54.

The task of rejuvenating the title falls to one-time Playboy Publisher Michael Perlis, 41. He joined Conde Nast only two months ago as publisher of Details, and now takes that post at GQ.

Details' new publisher is Gina Sanders, 34. The eight-year Conde Nast veteran had been Details' ad director. She is married to Steve Newhouse, S.I. Newhouse Jr.'s nephew.

If there was any surprise last week, it was a move that was not made.

Charles Townsend, widely rumored to be headed to the executive suite when he jumped from president of The New York Times Co. Magazine Group's Women's Magazines unit to become Glamour publisher in March, remains in that post.

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