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No conspiracy perhaps, but there was some intrigue over getting a farewell speaker for last week's American Magazine Conference in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Organizers had to scramble after Warren Beatty canceled abruptly. Thanks to the intercession of Variety Editorial Director Peter Bart, director Oliver Stone filled in, landing by helicopter on the Ritz Carlton lawn just before his Wednesday morning speech.

On Monday, Mr. Stone agreed to come if he could participate with Mr. Bart. Then Mr. Bart remembered another commitment, and Mr. Stone balked. Then he finally agreed. Another problem that was worked out: hotel insurance coverage for the helicopter landing.

The Magazine Publishers of America won't soon forget Mr. Beatty's snub. For the start of the session, Greg Coleman, group publisher of the Reader's Digest Association, obtained the "Bonnie & Clyde" clip where Mr. Beatty is killed. As the slow motion execution finished, Mr. Coleman said: "Don't mess with the MPA."

Mr. Beatty was supposedly annoyed by negative reviews of his movie "Love Affair," though his agent insisted otherwise.

Attendees also heard QVC Chairman Barry Diller speak on interactivity, and celebrated this year's ad page surge.

More coverage on Pages 16, 42.

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