Off the Record

Former General Maxim- us and Details editor Mark Golin is returning to the magazine world-but it won’t be as the next editor of Rolling Stone. Starting in June, Mr. Golin will go to work at Time Inc., helping the staid publisher develop new titles.

Mr. Golin is already part of the Time Inc. family, sort of. After getting sacked by Details in 2000, the man who got to spend part of his life putting half-naked nymphets on covers landed as the creative-services director of … Moviefone.com, a decidedly unglam property of America Online. AOL, of course, is Time Inc.’s daddy, and a few months ago, Mr. Golin had dinner with Time Inc. editorial director John Huey and met with Norm Pearlstine, the company’s editor in chief.

“I said, ‘I wouldn’t mind having a hand in publishing again,'” Mr. Golin recalled. “They said, ‘We wouldn’t mind having you around, as long as you don’t mess up the walls.'”

Mr. Golin was pretty vague on what he’d be doing to earn his paycheck. “They just want me to think about possible magazine opportunities.” He added that this would include considering new magazine launches, buying existing publications, and figuring out what to do with the magazines that Time Inc. bought last year when it acquired U.K. publisher IPC Media as well as Times Mirror Magazines, which is now known as Time4Media. Mr. Golin said he won’t be dealing with the core Time Inc. titles such as Time , People , InStyle and Sports Illustrated .

A Time Inc. spokesperson said Mr. Golin didn’t have a title yet, and even though his role was pretty well-defined by Messrs. Pearlstine and Huey, the company didn’t want to discuss details. “He’ll be working with Norm and John. They want him around because he’s smart, talented and interesting,” said the spokesperson.

Mr. Golin will only be at Time Inc. part-time; the rest of his time he’ll spend at AOL, where he’s involved in a new AOL Time Warner effort to get more Time Inc. content onto the AOL Internet services.

Recently, Mr. Golin’s name had been proffered as a candidate for the top job at Rolling Stone , and he did meet with publisher Jann Wenner, but he told the New York Post on May 15 that he was no longer in the running for that position.

Now, news of his imminent arrival at Time Inc. has led some in the Time-Life Building to try to figure out what exactly Mr. Golin, who is mostly known for executing a babes-and-beer editorial formula, could offer the magazine publisher. One scenario insiders sketched was that he would be a good fit with some of the IPC titles, such as the laddie mag Loaded and the music titles NME and Muzik . In the U.K., those three magazines are overseen by Mike Soutar, who took over Maxim after Mr. Golin left for Details in 1999.

What’s more, when the IPC acquisition was announced last July, there was media speculation that Time Inc. might consider launching a U.S. edition of Loaded and other IPC titles. The talk was squelched, but Mr. Golin would be an obvious candidate to lead such a launch, and his presence at Time Inc. has re-ignited thoughts of an American Loaded . The Time Inc. spokesperson said of that speculation: “I think people are getting way ahead of themselves.”

Another scenario sketched by Time Inc. insiders is that Mr. Golin could be in line for the managing editor’s spot at Entertainment Weekly if-or when-Jim Seymore vacates the post. Mr. Golin himself poured cold water on that one. “That is something I’ve heard absolutely nothing about,” he said.

Mr. Golin will have at least one advantage working in the Time-Life Building. Though the building has a no-smoking policy, Mr. Golin can smoke in his 26th-floor office-as long as he keeps the door closed.

-Gabriel Snyder

Call it The Perils of Corporate Synergy, Episode CCLXVII : On May 16, the day that Star Wars: Episode II-Attack of the Clones opened, the New York Post plugged the movie on its front page and inside published a three-page special section-two of them in color!-including a guide to all the Star Wars characters and a tale o’ the tape comparing Padmé Amidala, a.k.a. Natalie Portman (shy and demure), to Spider-Man ‘s Kirsten Dunst (likes to show off her nipples). What’s more, the paper reprinted Post critic “Love It” Lou Lumenick’s rapturous three-and-a-half-star review of SWEII , by far the most positive review the film has received, but one that had already run in the Post the prior Sunday. ” Clones is a delightfully rousing, eye-popping, crowd-pleasing homage to Saturday-morning serials of the ’30s and ’40s,” he wrote. “For my money, the rip-roaring light-saber battle that climaxes this blockbuster alone justifies the price of admission.”

Of course, Star Wars is, like the Post , a product of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. But Mr. Lumenick said the 20th Century Fox logo at the beginning of the movie didn’t matter to him. “I have never felt the slightest pressure or inclination to cut our News Corp. cousins any slack,” Mr. Lumenick said, “and, to the best of my knowledge, nor have any of my reviewing colleagues at the Post .” As evidence of his impartiality, Mr. Lumenick said he had stopped short “of a flat-out, four-star rave, noting some problems with the dialogue and the love scenes in my review.”

Mr. Lumenick also noted that a Variety story claimed Fox didn’t “own” a part of the film and was simply the distributor for the producer, Lucasfilm. “I don’t even think it truly qualifies as being ‘the boss movie,’ as you put it,” Mr. Lumenick said.

Faye Penn, the Post ‘s features editor, said she had no regrets about the paper’s enthusiastic Star Wars coverage. “Do I get nervous about covering Fox movies? The answer is not at all,” Ms. Penn said.

But one longtime Post staffer was more skeptical. Calling the Star Wars package “News Corp. synergy,” the source said that the coverage was unsurprising given the paper’s affiliations. “Nobody comes down and says ‘You have to do this,’ but clearly it was somehow communicated to features that they had to do Star Wars big,” the staffer said. “I’m kind of shocked by it.” But Ms. Penn said she wasn’t given any instructions from superiors to plug Star Wars.

-G.S.

And the Spaceman landeth! After months of negotiating, the Daily News and CNN anchor Lou Dobbs have come to an agreement for Mr. Dobbs to write a weekly Sunday business column. News editor in chief Ed Kosner expects to get the first copy from the outer-space and Arthur Andersen enthusiast this week, but isn’t sure when it’ll run.

“I just think he’s an interesting guy,” Mr. Kosner said. “It was a chance for us to get another voice into the Sunday paper.”

When asked if Mr. Dobbs would be writing about the cosmos, Mr. Kosner said: “No. It’s a public-markets,

personal-finance column. Someday he might, but it’s a personal-finance and markets column.”

Mr. Dobbs, who also pens a monthly column for Money -owned by CNN’s corporate cousin Time Inc.-was traveling and unavailable at deadline. However, a CNN representative said, “He is delighted to be associated with the Daily News and is looking forward to writing the column-he’s hoping to have a lot of fun with it.”

-Sridhar Pappu

”I’m going to L.A., bro,” said Charlie LeDuff, slice-of-life reporter for The New York Times , denizen of bars and box cars, and-if you ask others inside the journalism mill on West 43rd Street-a favorite of executive editor Howell Raines.

An announcement of his move had appeared several days earlier in the Daily News , but there was little news of what awaited in California. Like the Joads before him, Mr. LeDuff seemed unsure himself. What will you write? “News stories.” Why are you going? “‘Cause they told me to.”

Mr. LeDuff said he was writing on deadline and asked if he could have 15 minutes. Twenty minutes later, he picked up the phone again, put it on hold, and when he came back, had brought metro reporter Jayson Blair onto the line. “He’s my representative to the press,” Mr. LeDuff said.

“It’s a new opportunity. After Sept. 11, we all knew there were going to be a lot of changes,” Mr. Blair said of Mr. LeDuff’s move. “He’s going to be roving around the region, very similar to what he’s been writing.” Mr. Blair wanted to make an important point about his cohort. “He won’t be chasing wire stories.”

And what of the Bending Elbows column Mr. LeDuff has written for The Times ‘ City section? Who would be taking that over? “No one,” Mr. Blair said. “No one, we hope.”

(Elsewhere, City section editor Connie Rosenblum said, “No decision has been made.”)

Mr. LeDuff got on the phone and said of his Bending Elbows column, “It was a good run, and I’m anticipating closing the doors on the saloon.”

-G.S.

A bigshot New York Times writer stops paying his credit-card bill, his plastic is declined at dinner, and a Times support staffer loses her job. That’s the allegation in the latest memo from the union that represents editorial, business and clerical staff at The Times .

In the memo, dated May 21, the Newspaper Guild of New York alleged that “a travel coordinator was suspended indefinitely last Friday because she was unable to get American Express to extend the credit of a ‘valued’ (management’s word) Times Employee whose byline carries weight.”

The problem started in early May, when the writer’s AmEx had been suspended because The Times writer hadn’t been paying his bills, according to the Guild. The travel coordinator was able to work out something with AmEx, said the Guild. “American Express said it would temporarily extend the employee’s credit through Monday, May 6, and grant an unlimited credit status to the employee thereafter.”

But that night, when the Times writer went to dinner, the credit card was rejected, and on May 17, the travel coordinator-who has been with The Times for 22 years-“was suspended because she failed to contact American Express on Monday to check on the status of the account,” according to the union memo.

The memo adds that while AmEx initially agreed to give the Times writer “a special unlimited credit status,” in the end AmEx rejected that idea. The union claims this development absolved the travel coordinator. “Although the information from American Express absolving the travel coordinator of any wrongdoing was given to management, the travel coordinator was suspended anyway,” reads the memo.

Lena Williams, chair of the Times Guild Unit, told Off the Record that the travel coordinator remains on suspension, and the union hopes to return her to her job soon.

A spokesperson for The Times did not immediately have any comment on the situation.