FADE TO BLACK: When Hearst Magazines president Cathleen Black returns from Herb Allen’s annual media mogul mixer in Idaho, she may have some unpleasant business to attend to. Numerous sources within and close to Hearst say Black is close to replacing Ellen Kunes as editor in chief of Redbook, Hearst’s struggling women’s service title. Two candidates apparently being considered for the post are Good Housekeeping executive editor Judy Coyne and Stacy Morrison, former executive editor at Marie Claire. Both declined to comment, but have held the top job before — Morrison at Modern Bride and Coyne at Rodale’s now-defunct New Woman. Morrison, who left Marie Claire in March, is currently freelancing at Family Circle. Coyne was considered for the Redbook editorship back in 2001 but ultimately lost out to Kunes, who had been the launch editor for O, The Oprah Magazine. Earlier this year, Coyne was reportedly in the running to replace Susan Crandell as editor of Meredith’s More until the job went to Organic Style’s Peggy Northrop.
It’s no mystery why Black, who declined to comment, might be looking to replace Kunes. The title’s newsstand sales plunged 20 percent in the second half of 2003, averaging 459,532. (Hearst declined to provide 2004 figures.) Ad pages in the first half of this year totaled 597, down 17 percent from last year. Moreover, Kunes brought a truckload of bad press down on Redbook last year by running doctored photos of Jennifer Aniston and Julia Roberts on the cover in June and July, respectively. Both stars, who are among the elite in their power to goose newsstand sales, complained publicly about the covers. — Jeff Bercovici
ACTING BUG STINGS AGAIN: Anna Chlumsky has lost her taste for publishing. The star of 1991’s smash tearjerker “My Girl” has left her job as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins to return to acting. Chlumsky, who last appeared on screen in 1997’s made-for-TV “Miracle in the Woods,” has enrolled in classes at the Atlantic Acting School, a Manhattan conservatory founded by David Mamet and William H. Macy. Chlumsky, 24, broke into publishing with a job as a researcher for Zagat in 2002. Last year she moved to HarperCollins, where she worked at the Morrow/Avon commercial fiction imprint. An aspiring food writer, she’s also pitched projects to the Food Network and written articles for the Web site GourmetFare.com. A Harper Collins employee who worked with Chlumsky said she did not appear terribly invested in the job. “She didn’t seem to take it too seriously,” he said. — J.B.
A&F REDUX: Your grandmother might not be interested in thumbing through Abercrombie & Fitch’s new A&F Magazine, but you could show it to her if you had to without causing a stroke. That alone marks it as different from the old A&F Quarterly. Abercrombie pulled the plug on the magazine last fall after a Christmas issue that was extraordinarily racy (even by A&F standards) prompted noisy protests by family values groups. “There’s no question we pushed the envelope too far at times,” said A&F spokesman Tom Lennox. “But we believe the brand needs to have an edge to appeal to the target customer.” That edge, however, is not much in evidence in the new magazine’s debut issue, which was sent out to customers beginning this week. The issue’s theme is up-and-coming stars (eg. Wentworth Miller, Amy Redford and Michelle Trachtenberg) photographed in the out-of-doors. Photographer Bruce Weber serves up his usual array of shirtless hunks showing off their hip bones, to be sure. But when the steamiest image on display involves a sleeping black bear, that’s called playing it safe. — J.B.