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Nice lunch crowd at Manhattan's Four Seasons restaurant: Brooke Astor with Louise Grunwald, David Rockefeller, half the masthead of Playboy, Abe Rosenthal of The New York Times and wife Shirley Lord with Ed Koch, book man Arthur Loeb, Mort Zuckerman, Stephen Colvin. Who? Steve Colvin is a slender, soft-spoken 36-year-old lawyer from Belfast who's president-USA for London-based Dennis Publishing Ltd. of Goodge Street and the man who runs Maxim, a hot new men's magazine.

But we have too many men's magazines already. "We don't have enough," he responded, rattling off what he considers the "modest" circulations for a country this large of GQ, Esquire, Details et al. His Maxim was launched less than two years ago and has a rate base of 650,000 that's going to 950,000 later this year. About half of it newsstand at three and a half bucks. "We'll break even in '99 and be making a profit in 2000," says Mr. Colvin.

What's the secret? Good, short reads, pretty girls (the cover always carries one), service and humor. Lots of humor. Most material is U.S.-generated (the editor is Mark Golin, the publisher Conde Nast-trained Lance Ford) with the odd pickup from the original U.K. Maxim (typical headline "Big-arsed Dome" about a year 2000 monstrosity twice as large as our Atlanta Dome). They ran 625 ad pages for the 10-times book in '98. Steve, his wife and two children live on the East Side of Manhattan with a loaner house at Candlewood Lake. How does he feel about the Irish peace deal? "I'm thrilled. An entire generation is learning what it's like finally to live at peace. And Northern Ireland is booming. So much so there's a backlash from English taxpayers who resent having to pay for their boom."

The great Robert Czufin, managing director-advertising for The New York Times, is retiring Mar. 1 after 42 years. He began as a space salesman in their Miami office. Retirement plan? "Not to have one." But he may learn to play golf.

Rodale promoted Neil Wertheimer to VP-publisher of its line, Active Living Books.

New account manager for Inc. in their L.A. office is Patrick M. Haas who'd been with TBWA Chiat/Day on the Nissan biz before joining the mag.

Claudia Malley was promoted by Runner's World to associate publisher.

Playboy promoted James Dimonekas to ad director and Jeff Kimmel to N.Y. ad manager.

Scott Crystal reports for the fourth consecutive year National Geographic generated record ad revenues.

And also "a jolly good year," in her words, for Editor Cyndi Stivers at TimeOut New York. A National Magazine Award and both circ and ads up by a third over '97.

Pet hates? Waiters, barmen, and others who say, to any request, "no problem."

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