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Men’s Fitness exorcises staff

New regime for fitness mag

Tabloid publisher American Media cleaned house at Men’s Fitness magazine Monday in a strategy shift designed to gin up ad and circ numbers for the abs-and-advice publication.

The publisher and top editors at the magazine were all handed pinkslips by CEO David Pecker.

Neal Boulton will be taking the reins. Boulton already is topper of the upcoming Sly magazine, a celebrity publishing vehicle centered on Sylvester Stallone. He was art director of Men’s Fitness and led its redesign last year. Sly will bow in February.

American Media, publisher of National Enquirer, Star Magazine and the Globe, among other pubs, bought Men’s Fitness when it acquired Weider Publications in 2002 and turned the magazine from a bodybuilding title into a men’s lifestyle mag in the mold of Men’s Health.

So close was the cover likeness, Rodale’s Men’s Health sued American Media for copyright infringement earlier this year.

Circulation rose 3.2% in the first six months of 2004 to 650,000; October ad pages were up 37% over the previous year to $4.8 million. But the magazine still trails Men’s Health, which has a paid circ of 1.7 million and brought in more than $15 million in October ad bookings.

A source at Men’s Health said that while the magazine added pages to accommodate advertisers over the summer, business slowed in the fall, and Pecker had grown impatient with the pace of the magazine’s progress.

Seven staffers will depart as a result of the changes.

Pecker’s American Media, which owns the nation’s largest magazine distributor, is expected to file for a public flotation in the second half of 2005.

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