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Magazine Up For Sale Again, Newspaper Reports

October 3, 1986

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Saturday Review, a one-time literary magazine more recently taken up with cover photos of attractive women and movie-star profiles, is up for sale and may cease publication, a newspaper reported today.

Writers and contributors to the Saturday Review said the editors last week emptied files and returned stories to contributors with apologies and in some cases ″kill″ fees, which are paid to writers for canceled articles, the Los Angeles Times reported.

John P. Casey, vice president of an investment banking firm called Meridian Investments, said Thursday that 22 buyers are interested in the New York-based magazine, and he hopes to announce a deal by Oct. 15. Casey said the asking price for the Saturday Review is $3.5 million.

However, the Times said some staff members, who were not identified, are pessimistic about the possible sale and refer to the investment bankers as the ″Sunshine Boys″ because of their optimism about a deal.

The Times quoted one anonymous source as saying, ″There isn’t anything here to publish.″

″I think it’s deader than a mackerel,″ added Zan Thompson, one of the Saturday Review’s columnists.

Paul Dietrich, the magazine’s publisher who is president of a conservative Washington think tank called the National Center for Legislative Research, declined to be interviewed, the Times said.

The Saturday Review was founded in 1924 as a literature review by Christopher Morley, a novelist and poet, and Time Inc. chief Henry Luce. The magazine has suspended publication twice and had three different owners in the past four years.

Norman Cousins, a longtime editor of the magazine, wrote on his departure in 1982 that ″the underlying aim of the Saturday Review through all the years ... was to serve and strengthen the cultural marketplace of good taste. ... This emphasis takes on special significance in the light of the sleaziness that has infected the national culture in recent years.″

Dietrich and Editor Frank Gannon decided to reorient the magazine toward a young audience when they took over in June 1984, changing from weekly to bimonthly publication and to a different format.

Since then, most covers have featured attractive women and stories such as Marlyn Monroe’s ″Secret Lives and Death,″ ″The 52 Prettiest Faces in America″ and ″38 Over and Underrated People.″

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