L.A. MAG BAGS ANOTHER EXEC

Following a meeting at ABC’s corporate headquarters in Century City on March 26, Michael Caruso “officially” resigned from his post as editor of Los Angeles magazine and plans to take a position at a studio.

There is some irony to this career switch: Under Caruso’s aegis, Los Angeles consistently slammed Hollywood studios and execs.

Unofficially, Caruso was dismissed by Fairchild Publications, which recently gained oversight of Los Angeles as part of parent company Disney’s restructuring of its publishing operations. Fairchild wanted to put its own person in charge and to convert the feature-laden magazine into a fashion-lifestyle publication.

In February, Joan McCraw resigned as president and publisher, after Fairchild took over management of the magazine. McCraw was replaced by Liz Miller, who had been associate publisher of Fairchild’s W.

“I was hired with a mandate to do two things: One was to improve newsstands sales, which are up more than 15% since I took over,” Caruso told Daily Variety a day before his meeting with Fairchild, “and the second was to im-prove the editorial quality, which I like to think was accomplished based on the newsstand sales.

“My specialty was bringing in big-name writers and nationally known writers. What they want is fashion. L.A. isn’t only interested in fashion.”

Editorial turnover is nothing new at the mag. Caruso’s predecessor, Robert Sam Anson, was on the job only five months before he was dismissed.

Caruso says he has been offered a few job opportunities, particularly in the film industry.

“I’ve gotten offers from movie studios and I’m pretty excited about that,” Caruso says. “I have pretty good contacts with writers and that’s important to the studios.”

Caruso’s dismissal and Fairchild’s desire to revamp a constantly mutating magazine, highlights an even more criti-cal issue in L.A. these days. Namely, why can’t L.A. — which, according to the American Booksellers Assn., has more book sales than anywhere else in the country — support its indigenous city magazines, like Los Angeles and it’s competish, Buzz?

Buzz, too, has undergone editorial and investor changeovers in the past year, while striving to find a core audience and build brand loyalty. Buzz’s circulation and newsstand sales also have increased in the past year — circulation is up 9.9% over the second half of last year — but its existence still seems murky at times. A new investor group has bought a 51% interest in the mag, but the extent of its resources and commitment are unknown.

Moreover, while the L.A. Times’ Sunday magazine has consistently tried to find its niche, its parent recently added Parade magazine to its Sunday edition, leading many Times’ readers to wonder if this signals the deathknell for the paper’s own magazine.

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