George magazine, legacy of JFK Jr., to fold

— George, the politics and lifestyle magazine founded by the late John F. Kennedy Jr., is closing down one year after a remake failed to lift its sagging fortunes. The last issue will appear in March as a special tribute to Kennedy.

The announcement was made Thursday by Jack Kliger, president of Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, a division of the French conglomerate Lagardere SCA. George's 39 staffers will receive severance packages.

Kliger said Hachette had put "well over" $10 million into the magazine over the past year and only anticipated the losses to rise as the advertising market softens.

"I deeply regret this decision but it is unavoidable," Kliger said.

The closure was first reported on Inside.com, a media news Web site.

Hachette faced a dilemma over what to do with George magazine, which was struggling when Kennedy died in a plane crash in the summer of 1999. Closing George right away could have seemed disrespectful so soon after Kennedy's death.

Hachette took full control of George that fall, buying the half-interest it didn't already own from the Kennedy estate and installing former Money magazine editor Frank Lalli at the helm.

Circulation rose some 25 percent over the past year, but Kliger said the poor response from advertisers and a slowing economy made a decision to close the magazine inevitable.

"There was a product that went out beyond John, but the advertisers had always associated it with John Kennedy," Kliger said. "It was a political/lifestyle magazine, but we had a hell of a ghost to always be compared to."

Even before Kennedy's death, readers and advertisers had puzzled over George's combination of celebrity coverage and serious political issues. Despite a revamp under Lalli, the response from advertisers was poor.




MORE: www.georgemag.com

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