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New Magazines Target Teens, Sports Fans

January 01, 1998|PAUL D. COLFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The first quarter of 1998 will see two media giants go after desirable audiences with major magazine launches.

On Jan. 9, Time Inc.'s new Teen People goes on sale. The monthly spinoff for teenagers from People magazine is promising advertisers a circulation of 500,000 copies, as it covers celebrities and real teens, as well as fashion and beauty.

Earlier this week, the publisher was still guarding the precise contents of the premiere issue. But a peek at the cover gives a sampling of what to expect.

Jennifer Love Hewitt, who plays the pouty Sarah on TV's "Party of Five," is the cover girl. Among the cover lines: "Celeb Couples Share Their Love Secrets," "The Scary New Twist on Eating Disorders" and "75 Best Ways to Get Beautiful."

Teen People also is looking to attract some of its young readers as contributing writers and "trend spotters," with details to appear in the first issue.

The editor in chief is Christina Ferrari, who formerly held the top job at YM, the teen mag owned by Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing. Teen People is but the latest publication to target the country's growing teenage audience--and girls in particular--since Weider Publications launched Jump in 1997.

On March 11, the new ESPN Magazine is scheduled to arrive, an oversize 10-by-12-inch publication aimed at sports-loving men 18 to 34 years old. ESPN, the popular cable sports network jointly owned by Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., is expected to spend up to $100 million on the launch of the biweekly.

Awareness-building commercials were seen during the fall on ESPN and its two spinoff channels. Direct-response ads seeking subscribers are expected on screen shortly.

The launch is sure to generate lively competition with Sports Illustrated, the 3-million-circulation giant.

Mediaweek magazine reported recently that Sports Illustrated, not resting in wait, is preparing to unveil a significant overhaul of its design, including a change in logo. That has John Walsh, executive editor of ESPN Magazine, crying foul. He charges that SI is "reacting to our prototype," the one that was circulated to prospective advertisers. Of course, SI denies this.

The editor in chief of the start-up is John Papanek, a former managing editor of Sports Illustrated. He named Steve Wulf, previously a senior writer at Time, as a second executive editor, alongside Gary Hoenig, who ran the now-defunct ESPN Total Sports magazines.

Cable Channels Spawn Books: "Biography," the signature series of the A&E cable network, already has spawned videocassette editions of its nightly profiles and a monthly magazine--Biography--that might be described as "People lite." Now comes "Biography," the book series, which matches top writing talent and the lives of world figures.

Four $20 hardcovers inaugurate the line. Like the documentary hours that make up the "Biography" TV series, the books are concise summaries of the lives in question, rather than myth-shattering exposes.

"Ronald Reagan" is by Kenneth T. Walsh, the veteran White House correspondent of U.S. News & World Report. John Moody, who used to head Time's Rome bureau, wrote "Pope John Paul II." John Stravinsky, a longtime sports writer, authored "Muhammad Ali."

"Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis," written by Ellen Ladowsky, who has reported on Washington for the New Yorker and other publications, comes complete with a sidebar chapter on Grey Gardens, the East Hampton estate that was long owned by the Beale sisters, Onassis' two eccentric aunts.

The books, all marked with the "Biography" logo, are published by Park Lane Press, a division of Crown Publishing Group. According to Joan Demayo, Crown's director of sales and marketing, the books are now racked at large in stores, but next year they probably become part of the "Biography" audiovisual sections found in superstores.

To come in the fall of 1998: "Katharine Hepburn" by Barbara Holland, "Martin Luther King" by V.P. Franklin, "Marilyn Monroe" by Phil Berger and "Al Capone" by Rick Hornung.

In addition, another cable operation, the mighty ESPN sports franchise, has introduced a line of books in advance of ESPN Magazine's launch on March 11. The first to arrive is "The 1998 ESPN Information Please Sports Almanac," a 960-page, argument-ending compendium edited by John Hassan. Among the titles to follow are "ESPN's Ultimate Pro Football Guide" and "The Quotable ESPN."

The books are published by Hyperion, a corporate sibling of ESPN.

Remembering Brendan Gill: "New York City celebrates this week its hundredth birthday. But how can it be that we are at once so young and so old?"

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