Brady's Bunch

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Playboy's Editorial Director (since July of `04) Christopher Napolitano, who majored in religion at Columbia, was on a high about the new year when we lunched in the holiday season. Ad pages for the year were up 20% over 2003, while the men's category as a group was only 6% ahead. No, he said, the "moral values" folks aren't causing any new angst at Playboy. "We went through that a few years ago," said Chris. Why did they dump predecessor Jim Kaminsky after such a relatively brief run? "Jim did some fine things, put out some good issues, but I've been at Playboy 16 years, and he came from outside [Maxim] with a very different mind-set. And it just didn't work." And who is your boss? I inquired, "Christie [Hefner] or [founder] Hugh?" "They are both my bosses," said the diplomatic Chris. "but I spend more time with Hef. I go over every issue with him. We send him pages and I go out there from time to time." What about those "corny" photo spreads of Hef and visiting celebs and pneumatic blondes "inside the Playboy mansion?" "Readers love them," said Chris. "We dropped them briefly and people wanted them back." He enthused about the monthly's writing. "For January, Gore Vidal did a thoughtful essay on Jefferson (vs. Hamilton), the separation of church and state. Mailer is writing for us again. Arthur Schlesinger, David Hackworth, T. C. Boyle." Median age of Playboy readers? 32.7. No "lad" book, they!

Vogue Man, polybagged with Vogue recently, is set for a newsstand test in September, Conde Nast sources say.

American Express Publishing Corp.'s Ed Kelly had reason to celebrate. He reports for all four mags that ad pages were up 5% for 2004. Departures led with an 11% gain, Food & Wine was up 6%

I am convinced there are two kinds of people: those who love the new look, format and organization of the Book Review section in The Sunday New York Times. And those who can't stand it.

Longtime pal Valerie Salembier, publisher of Harper's Bazaar, is in something of a snit over my impertinence. I suggested she concentrate more on selling ad pages than on her chairmanship of the NYC Police Foundation. Val declares, "31% ahead in ad pages (in 2004) is a remarkable turnaround." Sure it is, if it's on the rate card. When a mature book is suddenly up 31%, I wonder why.

Also in last week's column on Fairchild, Elle should have been credited with 1,874 ad pages for the year.

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