This week's biggest magazine news comes with a four-month lead time attached: Rupert Murdoch has agreed to back a national political weekly of conservative bent that will begin publication around Labor Day. The Standard, as the periodical is to be called, will have as its editor and publisher William Kristol, a leading Republican strategist and former chief of staff to Dan Quayle. Also aboard will be the New Republic's Fred Barnes, as executive editor, and New York Post television critic John Podhoretz, as deputy editor.
The focus of attention has been Murdoch's willingness to invest $3 million in the Standard, but the more interesting question is why something like this hasn't happened sooner. The two leading conservative political magazines, National Review and the American Spectator, are, respectively, a biweekly and a monthly. It's hard to contribute much to the political debate -- let alone try to guide it -- operating on such leisurely publication schedules. A weekly best combines perspective and topicality; it's not just media bias that accounts for the prominence of the New Republic and the Nation -- both liberal (or liberalish) weeklies -- in American political discourse.
It's been 20 years since the beginning of the right's resurgence. A conservative publication focusing on policy, politics and ideas is long overdue. Part of the reason conservative readers feel a need to keep up with, say, the New Republic, is the sense it communicates of being part of a larger debate. That sense is rarely to be gotten from National Review or American Spectator, the former like a posh Elks Club, the latter like a frat house full of slightly superannuated pledges. Conservative intellectuals spent a very long time feeling marginalized, and when reading these two magazines, one still gets an overpowering sense of insularity and preaching to the converted. One indicator of that insularity, coincidental though it may be, is the fact that Mr. Kristol's father is Irving Kristol, a founder of the leading neoconservative quarterly, the Public Interest, and Mr. Podhoretz's father is Norman Podhoretz, the retiring editor of the leading neoconservative monthly, Commentary. Blood tells, the saying goes. The Standard's bloodlines raise doubts as to whether it will be telling us something new.
William Kristol does not appear on People's 1995 list of "The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World" (May 8). But editors of political publications set to debut in September need not despair. John F. Kennedy Jr., whose magazine, George, is scheduled to come out around Labor Day, upholds the group's honor by placing among the hunky half-a-hundred. JFK Jr., who has made the list five out of the six times it's appeared, is a $$ former People "Sexiest Man Alive." The incumbent in that category, Brad Pitt, is also here, though when he reads his entry he might be one of "The 50 Most Embarrassed People in the World": "In 'A River Runs Through It,' at just about every sun-dappled close-up, your pulse stopped with a noise like the flavor-lock on a Tupperware lid. In 'Interview With the Vampire,' you wanted to ride bareback down the slopes of his hair." After that, even the matter-of-fact egotism of TV actor Scott Wolf ("I was always considered cute") looks good by comparison.
We learn that T-Boz, of the singing group TLC, once used Kool-Aid to dye her hair ("It came out purple-burgundy") and that Sweden's Queen Silvia -- did you know Sweden had a Queen Silvia? -- altered her gowns to be less revealing when she married her husband, Carl Gustaf, in 1976 ("What would my people think if I went around showing my bosom?").
With stuff like that, it's no wonder this is the second-largest regular issue in People's history (the champ is the 15th anniversary number in 1989).