The Buzz

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THE LATEST at Playboy has them aiming highbrow and low to find that elusive middle. Joining ex-Maxim executive editor James Kaminsky will be another former Maxim hand, the current co-executive editor Steven Russell. He will be Mr. Kaminsky's deputy editor. The editorial, uh, heft comes courtesy of longtime Rolling Stone-r Robert Love, who as editor-at-large will oversee fiction and long-form pieces-you know, the serious stuff. Both will be based in New York, which won't make staffers at Playboy, currently based in Chicago, any more secure. They likely recall the 70 layoffs the company announced just before Thanksgiving, or the 92 jobs the company slashed in October 2001.

News of recent CNN departures led to more speculation that the cable net is readying to merge with ABC News. Veterans with no contracts for 2003 include campaign finance expert Brooks Jackson, business reporter Allan Dodds Frank, Miami and Cuba correspondent Mark Potter and San Francisco-based James Hattori. Commentator Garrick Utley had raised his hand to end his tenure earlier, a CNN spokesman said. Walter Isaacson, CNN News group chairman-CEO, characterized the turnover as "small" in The Washington Post, which also quoted him saying he's still in favor of a merger, but expects at least a "couple more" months of negotiation before any deal would be ready.

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