American Pie 29.01.04

Despite losing $10m (£5.5m) on the Broadway production of Taboo, former TV talkshow host and magazine editor Rosie O’Donnell is all smiles. She is enjoying, friends say, the downfall of Dan Brewster, US head of the G+J publishing empire, who has finally had his marching orders. The son of a former US senator, Brewster was hired four years ago to liven up the image of the company, which publishes Family Circle.

It was he who ended the publishing partnership with O’Donnell, which led to a much publicised court case. In an argument over the closure of Rosie magazine, O’Donnell was reported to have warned Brewster: “You’ll bring me down? You’re coming with me.” In the trial that ensued, the judge said he found no justification in the German company’s claim for $100m damages, or her counter suit for $125m. A final ruling – whether either side will collect any damages – is still to come.

More about Deep Throat. Although the name of the tipster who helped Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein break the Watergate scandal won’t be disclosed until the informant’s death, one other person knows it. Former Post editor Ben Bradlee revealed at a Harvard Club lunch he helped the reporters prepare the obituary, which is in a secret place. “You won’t find it in the Post’s computer,” he claimed.

Another last-minute reprieve for Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione. An unidentified German publishing house has offered to invest in his faltering company, which has been on the verge of bankruptcy for five months. Under the plan, Guccione, who started Penthouse in London in the early Sixties, will retain the title of publisher and continue to receive a salary of $500,000 a year for the next 10 years. However, the 71-year-old is still having to sell his $30m Manhattan mansion and $100m art collection.

Although its circulation is just over 650,000, the New York Post is boasting that it has 3.4m readers on its website. It claims to be the fourth most popular newspaper site in the US – after The New York Times, USA Today and The Washington Post. The biggest draw: the New York Post’s online travel and realestate sections. The paper’s circulation has climbed 10 per cent in the past six months.

For the third year running, the number of US ad pages was down last year. The biggest declines were in ads for insurance, real estate and finance (an 11 per cent drop) and hotels, resorts and transportation (down 10 per cent). The only improvements was in car (up 9 per cent) and pharmaceutical ads (up 10 per cent). Worst hit magazine was Martha Stewart Living. Since the publishing entrepreneur was charged with offences related to her Wall Street trading, her magazine has suffered a 35 per cent drop in ads and circulation has skidded from 2.3m to 1.8m.

A 22-year-old American hacker who broke into the New York Times computer system and accessed a database containing the home telephone numbers and social security numbers of 3,000 of the paper’s contributors, is facing a year in prison. After his arrest, Adrian Lamo claimed on TV: “I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong.”

USA Today founder Al Neuharth has added his voice to the controversy over reporting by the paper’s former star Jack Kelley (Press Gazette, 23 January). Commenting on the charges that Kelley fabricated some of his stories, Neuharth said: “For more than 20 years, I’ve preached that anonymous sources are the root of evil in journalism. I could say ‘I told you so’, so I will.”

By Jeffrey Blyth

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