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Fortune-ate son: Huey to top Time

Exec will o'see all Gotham weeklies

One day after AOL Time Warner brass reassigned editorial director Walter Isaacson to the top post at CNN, Time Inc. editor in chief Norman Pearlstine tapped John Huey, editor of Time’s Fortune magazine group, to replace him.

The move coincides with a redefinition of the top editorial rungs at Time. Clarifying the reporting structure, Pearlstine will focus on larger strategy and the interface of Time Inc., CNN and AOL — a role previously embraced by Isaacson.

Huey will oversee all of the New York weeklies, including Time, Sports Illustrated and the business titles, and with Isolde Motley, oversee lifestyle books In Style, People and Real Simple.

With Pearlstine coordinating projects among the conglom’s various divisions, one senior Time Inc. exec said, there may be more examples of TV projects developed from the magazine unit, such as “People in the News,” which now airs on CNN, and the disastrous and short-lived “NewsStand.”

“We wouldn’t want to do something that would compromise the integrity and independence of each brand,” the exec said. “But you may see more of that in the future.”

In Huey, Pearlstine has tapped a vet magazine editor credited with reinventing Fortune. Though the book is suffering in the current magazine climate (ad pages are down 41.1% to date this year), it flourished under Huey’s watch, seeing record ad and circulation gains. The Fortune group includes Fortune, Money and Business 2.0.

“It was the great magazine turnaround of the 1990s,” Pearlstine said.

Huey, who was the Wall Street Journal’s Southeastern bureau chief and, with Pearlstine, helped launch the paper’s European edition in Brussels, was named editor of the year by Advertising Age in 1997.

POOH TANGLE: Winnie the Pooh is making mischief at UK lit agency Curtis Brown. When the Disney Co. bought the Pooh copyright in March for $340 million, Curtis Brown saw a windfall of some $10 million. Now the agents are jousting over whether to inject the capital into the firm or disperse it among the staff.

That has prompted a cadre of young agents at the firm – Nick Marston, Johnny Geller, Peter Robinson and Ben Hall – to spearhead a management buyout.

The group is now negotiating with the board of trustees, Marston said. “The idea is to insure the continuity and retain the independence” of the agency he said. “It’s an opportunity for senior shareholders to pass on the baton.”

If there’s no amicable solution, Marston and the other young Turks could ankle.

Curtis Brown has been to divorce court before. The U.K. and U.S. offices of Curtis Brown are now two separate companies, with the U.K. branch repping film and merchandise rights to Pooh (the American arm handles only US publication rights and therefore didn’t see any of Disney’s $340 million). But the two offices were once one entity, but have split three times, most recently in 1992.

Rights to Winnie the Pooh are rumored to have been a point of contention in the last schism — a claim agents at the US office deny. But with hundreds of millions of dollars teetering in the balance, there’s been plenty to squabble over.

‘KID STAYS’ FOR USA: “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” the autobiography of former Paramount honcho Robert Evans, is one of those books — like “What Makes Sammy Run?” and “The Art of War” — that’s on the reading list of anyone contemplating a career in the upper strata of the studio system.

Not surprisingly, there have been plenty of efforts to develop a dramatic version of the book. But after a few false starts (including an effort by HBO and producer David Brown to turn it into a dramatic series), it’s finally on its way to the bigscreen in the guise of a documentary, produced by USA Films, Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter and Highway Films’ Brett Morgen and Nanette Burstein (“On the Ropes”).

USA will distribute the pic, which Highway Films hopes to have ready for Sundance.

The film is expected to follow the book closely — an unorthodox idea given the spontaneity, and the questionable reality of some of the book’s best anecdotes.

And it may be hard to match the bravado of the audio book, which Evans recorded in several impromptu late-night sessions.

“He felt uncomfortable reading an abridged version,” recalled Deborah Raffin, who produced the audio book. “Each night he’d come in to the studio and improvise chapter by chapter for several hours.”

That audio book is all but impossible to procure these days, as it’s out of print and rights are trapped in a copyright dispute between two audio publishers, New Millennium and NewStar. New Millennium partners Michael Viner and Raffin published the book when they ran Dove Audio.

Viner and Raffin sold the company to John Hunt, but it has since gone bankrupt and the assets are being divided between New Millennium and Hunt’s new company, NewStar.

GROWING TALK: Compared to some of its corporate rivals, Talk Miramax Books has remained a stripped-down outfit, its lean editorial staff discretely occupying one corner of Talk magazine’s Chelsea offices.

But the imprint is enjoying a banner year with four bestsellers, and the staff is bulking up accordingly.

It has upped marketing exec Kathy Schneider to publisher of the division and hired a new editor, Jillellyn Riley.

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