HACHETTE’S VROOM VROOM MAN: Behind closed doors, colleagues have said Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. chief executive officer Alain Lemarchand was never the ideal fit to run the company since, they said, he never really understood magazines and his personal manner was awkward. But, even with all that, his departure came as a surprise when it was revealed on Tuesday. Even more eyebrow-raising was the choice of Lemarchand’s successor: Steve Parr, formerly the head of Primedia Enthusiast Media and Source Interlink (think Motor Trend). “I had to look him up on LinkedIn,” said one high-level publishing executive. “I didn’t know who he was.” Similar statements were echoed by several publishing veterans, who also wondered what Parr’s appointment might mean for the future of Hachette’s U.S. magazine division and, specifically, Elle.

There have been months of speculation that Hachette’s French parent, Lagardère, and Hearst were in talks about some kind of deal. Either Hearst was getting a piece of Elle worldwide, or else taking over the U.S. operations in a joint venture, or taking on the whole of Lagardère’s publishing operations, or some twist on any or all of those. Lagardère executives have denied any deal for the U.S. division was in the works. Having said that, some insiders believe Parr could be the one to pull the trigger on a publishing deal between Hachette and Hearst given that Lagardère has been said to be eager to exit U.S. publishing for some time.

This story first appeared in the September 22, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

As for Lemarchand, he can thank personal relationships and the inability to actually fire anyone in France for his next gig. The executive, whose contract was said to be up in June, is good friends with group head Arnaud Lagardère and will be shuffled into a new senior management role within Lagardère Active — the group’s name for its publishing operations — as of Oct. 1.

Lemarchand’s exit from Hachette rounds out a summer of big changes among publishing heads of state, from Hearst, which tapped David Carey to succeed Cathie Black, to Time Inc., which lured Jack Griffin away from Meredith to the top job, replacing Ann Moore. After Carey left Condé Nast, Bob Sauerberg was appointed to the new role of president. — Amy Wicks

THE PROS, THE CONS — AND I’M LEAVING: The popular narrative of Newsweek’s sale to Sidney Harman usually starts at a May lunch he shared with the magazine’s senior Washington correspondent, Howard Fineman. Harman knew that then-editor Jon Meacham had been talking to potential buyers, and the 92-year-old stereo magnate summoned his friend Fineman to a table at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington to inquire about the financially strapped newsweekly. “I basically made a journalistic pitch that it was worth saving,” Fineman told Yahoo News’ Michael Calderone in a story published on Aug. 2, the day The Washington Post Co. agreed to sell to Harman.

So it was a little curious, given his role in Newsweek’s next chapter, that Fineman revealed plans on Sunday to leave the magazine he’s called home for 30 years — and its new owner — for a job with The Huffington Post.

“I gave him the pros and cons,” Fineman told WWD on Tuesday, taking a bit of a step back from his earlier account of the lunch. “I did not see myself in a sales role.” Among Fineman’s pros, he said, were the magazine’s reporters, tradition and its global component. The con, he said, was that The Washington Post Co. had “completely mismanaged the magazine.”

“It is true that I was the first person he met on the road…but I was not crucial in any way,” Fineman insisted. “It’s more casually coincidental than it was anything.”

Fineman, who also works as a news analyst with MSNBC, said he’d thought of leaving Newsweek before and that Arianna Huffington “made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

“I am not smart enough to dupe Sidney Harman,” he said of the speculation around his departure. “He’s got $900 million…he basically invented stereo. I couldn’t dupe him even if I wanted to.”

Harman, his attorney said, could not be reached for comment. — Matthew Lynch

HEADING BACK HOME: Editors in chief and publishing executives have been playing all spring and summer long, and now managing editors are getting into the game of musical chairs. After just six months as executive managing editor at W, Lawrence Karol — the former Gourmet managing editor who was one of Stefano Tonchi’s first hires — is decamping to Architectural Digest to serve as managing editor under newly installed editor in chief Margaret Russell. But those sniffing for intrigue surrounding Karol’s relatively abrupt departure will be disappointed. Sources told WWD that Karol, who began his career at Architectural Digest in Los Angeles, spending roughly 10 years there before moving on to stints at Allure and Gourmet in New York, is leaving W with Tonchi’s blessing. (Karol is apparently a home and interior design aficionado and, upon learning that AD was getting a new editor and moving its headquarters to New York, told Tonchi he was interested in going back to his old haunt.)

And Tonchi has already found a replacement — via a poach from Lucky. The Italian editor has hired the shopping title’s managing editor, Regan Solmo, to be managing editor at W, effective Oct. 4. Lucky, in turn, promoted Solmo’s deputy, assistant managing editor Faye Chiu Mosley, to the role of managing editor. And all’s quiet…for now. — Nick Axelrod

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