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OUTTAKES

New Wrinkle

January 11, 1987|Elizabeth Mehren

Frances Lear--Norman Lear's ex--wasn't born yesterday. Neither was the target reader of Lear's, the high-gloss magazine "for women over 40" that she'll launch this fall (every other month) after nearly three decades of marriage to the producer of "All in the Family," "Maude," "The Jeffersons," etc.

Soon after the marriage cracked in late '85, Frances, 63, headed home to NYC and "became an entrepreneur"--with considerable start-up money, if published reports of a $112-million divorce settlement are accurate.

Armed with a word processor and "absolutely no knowledge" of the magazine biz, she holed up in her Ritz Tower duplex, determined to create a periodical for the woman who has earned her wrinkles. One year and 10 days later, she was circulating a 145-page prototype that boasted bylines like Doris Lessing, Maureen Howard and Jeff Greenfield--and her own job-title, founder/editor-in-chief.

Lear insists the magazine's name was an accident of evolution.

"We began with 'Sequel,' " she said. Later it was "Babe," and then "a line of women's names, Greek to American to Irish to French." At last, she decided to go for a last name--and why not her own?

She's mum about how much she's sunk into the product, which she aims to deliver to 800,000 readers, but estimates run in the $2-million range.

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