MURDOCH IS CLOSING MIRABELLA

Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — Rupert Murdoch finally pulled the plug on Mirabella Wednesday.
The May issue of Mirabella will be the last published by News America Publishing Inc., which publishes Mirabella, TV Guide and the New York Post.
Mirabella employees were called into a meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday, where Leslie Hinton, chief executive of News America Publishing Inc., relayed the bad news, and said the magazine is up for sale.
“We have invested heavily in Mirabella over several years, both in terms of creative talent and money. The magazine’s progress in advertising and readership — coupled with rising costs — has led us to this decision,” said Hinton.
Only last month, Joseph F. Barletta, president of Murdoch Magazines, which oversees Mirabella and TV Guide, dismissed the constant rumors about Mirabella’s imminent demise. “Making money is not an overriding concern in the fashion field,” he told WWD. “The idea that something hovers around the line of black and red is so inconsequential in the scheme of the bean counters. The idea that it would have to be closed up is laughable.”
But nobody’s laughing now.
Dominique Browning, the new editor in chief who was hired in January, was stunned by the news. She had just returned from Milan and Paris and was only informed about the closing a few hours before the meeting. “It’s completely out of left field. I love this magazine and I believe in this idea. There’s room in this world for a magazine for intelligent women,” she said. Browning’s debut issue in May is also the last one, unless a buyer is found. Mirabella, with a current circulation of 600,000, got off to an impressive start in 1989, but then experienced a dramatic drop in ad pages beginning in 1991 and never fully recovered.
While the magazine had started to make some strides in advertising in 1994, under then-publisher Catherine Viscardi Johnston, it stumbled badly in the first quarter of 1995. It was off 14.8 percent in the first quarter. “You work so hard to get there and all of a sudden, they yanked it,” said Sam Shahid, who was brought in last year as creative director.
“I’m sad,” added Grace Mira-bella, the magazine’s founder. “What a crime this is. I think it’s been a good magazine. I never can say everything was perfect, but the concept was good. There’s a woman out there who loves it. We will reappear somehow.”