UNDER THE KNIFE: Last year, word broke that Alex Kuczynski was doing a book on women and power. But it appears Kuczynski — whose tenure at The New York Times brought her from the magazine beat to the front pages of the Sunday Styles section — has had a change of heart. According to several sources, the topic of her book is plastic surgery. It will give an exhaustive account of the national obsession with self improvement and may also provide an inside look at the actual industry and what can go wrong — from Jocelyn Wildenstein syndrome to actual mishaps under the knife. But it’s not, two sources said, an exposé, and it may even provide some advice on what to get done. — Jacob Bernstein

THE BLAME GAME: Gruner + Jahr’s timing could use some work. Ron Sklon, the company’s head of single-copy sales, very quietly exited last month, just weeks before Monday’s report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations of steep newsstand declines at problem child YM and six-sister title Family Circle.

This story first appeared in the August 19, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Sklon arrived from Time Inc. a year ago at the suggestion of G+J executive vice president Dan Rubin Just whose suggestion it was that Sklon leave is less clear — he was clearly unhappy, one source said, while another source said his departure may have been hastened after G+J decided not to renew his one-year contract. A G+J spokeswoman said Sklon left voluntarily and is close to signing a consulting agreement with the company. Calls to Sklon’s home were not returned.

What makes it look even worse is that Sklon departed a few weeks before The Wall Street Journal reaired all of YM’s dirty laundry at the newsstand in 2001. But he isn’t being scapegoated for that — G+J executives are busy blaming former YM publisher Laura McEwen instead. Several sources in the teen market said G+J is spinning McEwen’s departure to Reader’s Digest as proof of a fresh start regarding YM’s newsstand numbers, which are terrible.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that McEwen’s former G+J employees are looking for fresh starts. Marketing director Jill Fischer and event marketing director Nancy Alpert have quit to join McEwen at Reader’s Digest, while beauty director Yolande Casey has resigned with no job lined up. Fashion director James D’Adamo is effectively switching magazines with Fitness associate publisher Jean Sachs. She’s joining YM as an associate publisher after having worked there before, as well as with new publisher Joan Sheridan at Rosie, while D’Adamo, moves up to ad director at Fitness. — Greg Lindsay

ANOTHER US RECRUIT: Marc Malkin is leaving New York Magazine. According to sources, the Intelligencer gossip columnist is headed to Us Weekly as the replacement for Michael Lewittes, who has left for American Media. Meanwhile, wondering where tabloid princess Bonnie Fuller was during the blackout? Well, for the second half, she was in Boca Raton, Fla. Once AMI chairman David Pecker realized the power outage in Manhattan was costing him precious time, he flew her and eight members of the staff there by private jet on Friday morning so that they could get back to work. Well, if you were paying Fuller a reported $3 million a year to come work for you, wouldn’t you want to get your money’s worth? — J.B.

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