Brady's Bunch

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"San Fran-cisco/ Open that Golden Gate..." You know how, in the service of this column and its readers I often sail in harm's way. Which is why last week I was in San Francisco, braving the defeat of the baseball Giants, earthquakes and the California recall election.

Is it just my imagination, or isn't The New York Times a helluva lot livelier, smarter-looking, and more fun to read under Mr. Keller?

Four years after David G. Bradley bought The Atlantic from Mort Zuckerman, President John Fox Sullivan, ME Cullen Murphy, and Publisher Elizabeth Baker Keffer are making news. They're putting the financial burden on readers, not advertisers, by cutting the rate base (450,000 to 325,000), boosting the sub and newsstand prices and, despite this, doubling the newsstand sale. Fox, a Yalie and classmate of John Kerry ("Even then, he was running for President") and Ms. Keffer and I lunched recently (Murphy was back in Washington, doing the work), and they talked about their three National Magazine Awards last year and their two this year. Ad pages year to date are 18% ahead (on top of growth last year of 14%). The feistier, edgier, more controversial editorial (it was first to refer to Iraq, acerbically, as our "51st state" and ran a controversial RFK Jr. defense of his "killing cousin" Michael Skakel). At Bradley's urging, now they are looking around for class-not-mass publishing acquisitions.

"Killer Kate" White, the dynamic editor of Cosmo, has a new murder mystery out this week, "A Body To Die For." When is Helen Gurley Brown's best-seller coming out?

Notice how card-by-card coverage of high stakes poker's taken off on TV? Later this month a new mag hits the stands, Avery Cardoza's Player, described as a gambling lifestyle magazine for 25-45 males. Cardoza himself, an author and publisher with apparently deep pockets, hired Jim Mauro as editor.

Mary Morgan says Redbook's ad pages are a whopping 17% ahead through November and dollars up 23%. Nice job.

Oct. 23 Bill Kupper of Business Week speaks at an L.A. fundraiser for New Directions, which "helps military vets help themselves." He'll talk about Vietnam and discuss California's economic future.

George Plimpton was an old-fashioned WASP gentleman, a delightful writer and a swell guy.

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