'Marriage . . . Saved' columns to be published in annual edition

May 10, 1993|By New York Times News Service

Can this marriage be saved? You bet it can. Not only saved, but rewritten, recycled, syndicated and -- if things work out -- even featured on cable television.

"Can This Marriage Be Saved?" is the Ladies' Home Journal's true-life monthly column that has hooked millions of Journal readers for 40 years. Based on intimate details from the files of marriage counselors throughout the country, the column's most remarkable feature is that every marriage it writes about is saved.

The news is clearly just too good not to share. So the magazine is compiling its best cases from four decades of columns for inclusion in an annual edition. In October, 400,000 copies of the first issue of "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" -- yes, that's the title -- will be sold on newsstands. Along with the columns, the issue will feature workbooks, pull-out sections and surveys on sex and the American wife.

And there's more.

Beginning in September, the Los Angeles Times Syndicate will offer "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" to newspapers around the country. The 250-word column, working from new cases, will be written by Margery D. Rosen, who edits the magazine column each month. Myrna Blyth, the Journal's editor-in-chief and publishing director, said the column was being positioned as the first new competition to "Ann Landers" and "Dear Abby" in years.

The Ladies' Home Journal is even in talks with CNN about exploring the column's suitability for television. The companies will test an episode in which cases will be dramatized, then resolved.

In spinning off these features for other kinds of media, the Ladies' Home Journal joins Details, Essence, Martha Stewart Living, Reader's Digest and many others in the imaginative use of so-called "line extensions" of its magazine. Reader's Digest, for example, recently announced a TV deal with ABC to develop a one-hour program based on the magazine's feature columns.

When the column started in the 1950s, Ms. Blyth said, "it was all 'my wife wants to work.' And the problem now," she noted, "is 'my wife wants to stay home.'

"The column has seen changes in sexual experience. Then, grueling, horrifying wedding nights were much more the case," she said.

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