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Live From The AMC! MagaBrands, Octopi and Eating Off Dan Rather's Plate

Huffingonton Post   First Posted: 03/28/08 03:45 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 01:15 PM ET

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Live from Boca Raton, it's....does ANYTHING live from Boca Raton sound exciting? That's a question for another day, Uncle Morty, but in the meantime it's where the 2007 American Magazine Conference is being happily hosted for 500 of our industry colleagues. So far we've had one exciting afternoon and evening, and it's been eventful, first with the kickoff keynote featuring Tony Snow, using the words "White House" and "intellectual vigor" in a sentence and looking (happily) hale and healthy with some sun on his cheeks and a yellow wristband complementing his red polo shirt, gray jacket and blue slacks (being released from the White House dress code speaks volumes, eh?). We'll have more on Tony Snow upcoming (including our EXCLUSIVE when we chased him out of the auditorium via the kitchen — sorry, waiter with dropped tray!) but in the meantime a few tidbits from the afternoon and evening:

  • AdAge editor-in-chief Jonah Bloom and publisher Scott Donaton presented the AdAge "A List" of magazines, which awarded the top prize to Better Homes & Gardens — flashy! — but also, in terms of pumping up circulation, damned flashy since they're at a mind-boggling 7.7 million after a 35.5% jump following a redesign of the 80+-year-old mag. Impressive for an old girl!

  • Other mag honors went to Cookie for Launch of the Year (aka "slow rollout of the year" since it had technically launched in December 2005 on alternate months); Adam Moss for Editor of the Year (no disrespect to Adam, who's had a very good year, but when is the backlash going to start? In other news, we saw him snoozing poolside yesterday underneath a thick, vello-bound manuscript and he looked very peaceful, though clearly it was the sleep of overwork); and for Media Company of the Year — drumroll! Bated breath! Everyone on the edge of their seats! — Condé Nast. Congratulations, giant money-soaked behemoth!

  • We missed this part chasing after Tony Snow, but apparently AdAge's Bloom said, "Sorry, [AMC Chairman] Dave [Zinczenko], but I refuse to say the word 'MagaBrand.'" Oh, snap! MagaBrand throwdown! Bloom then returned to hosting the AdAge™ Top Ten Magazine Awards.

  • And then...party! After, at the reception, the sponsor, the Abundant Forests Alliance, held a draw for an iPhone, handing everbody raffle tickets that said on them "Everybody wins when our forests are abundant!" I'm sure the trees that died to make those raffle tickets agreed. (Okay, we're at a magazine conference. A few puny raffle tickets don't hold a candle.)

  • Fellow HuffPo conference attendee, HuffPo media & business pages doyenne Michelle Kung and I observed all sorts of EICs wandering in the crowd waving their eight arms, like ASME prez and Glamour ed Cindi Leive (looking perfectly turned out, as usual), Cookie's Pilar Guzman and Seventeen's Ann Shoket (see Michelle's interview with Shoket on Seventeen's new "Body Peace Treaty" here!).

  • The night was wide open, and as conference-goers ate Waverly Chef John Lucie's "signature burgers and truffle fries" and replenished at the bar, part of the party migrated to a private dining room in resort restaurant Lucca for an annual dinner of hand-picked industry luminaries hosted by Niche Media's Jason Binn. (Well, hand-picked except to the extent that David Carr, Jon Friedman and Keith Kelly picked up a straggler along the way. Thanks, guys!) Dinner attendees included Hearst honcho Cathie Black (wearing basic yellow); Playboy EIC Chris Napolitano, sporting a casually-mussed and very hip new coif, we observed); former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning and his lovely wife, Tracy, both bringing up the median height in the room; Portfolio's Jeff Bercovici and WWD's Irin Carmon, both bringing down the median age in the room (along with me, I will take this moment to assert for the forever-Googleable record); numerous Hearst bigwigs like Michael Clinton, George Green and Debra Shriver, all with many opinions on the current presidential campaign (and thank you, left-hand seat-mate Clinton, for going around the table and telling me who everyone was); and — who else was there? — ah, yes, my other seat-mate on the right-hand side: Former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather. Is this seat taken, Mr. Rather? Because I'm hungrier than a rented mule doing double-time in a Texas oilfield chasing a duck with its feathers flying paddling away from a zig-zagging alligator taunted before he crossed the creek! Or something.

  • The evening was mostly off the record, but since so much of what was discussed centered around politics (the Hearst people had lots of questions for Dan!) it will probably come out later today when he moderates the "Handicapping the 2008 Election" panel with Mark Halperin, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter and the Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel. Here's what we can tell you: He stands every time a lady leaves and/or returns to the table (courtly!) and he did not discuss his pending legal case (er, other kind of courtly). We did discuss Howie Kurtz's book ("You're in it!" I said brightly, and helpfully) which he said he had not read (he also said other stuff!). Rather did say that he had just returned from the Canadian arctic, doing a story for HDNet on the implications of the now-opening Northwest Passage, and he loved it (and made sure to mention how beautiful the country looks in HD!), and also mentioned that he was at the event at the invitation of Cathie Black, who is clearly the octopus to end all octopi. Rather was a charming dinner companion, and joined me in indulging in an after-dinner glass of delicious Moscati D'Asti, though after an initial clink-and-sip I noticed that he left most of it over. Reader, I will leave it to you to guess whether I finished it after he left. But you should know that Moscati is delicious.

  • Finally, the Jason Binn-Cathie Black connection - wow those two are tight. After a few initial words of toast, Binn surprised the room by rising again for a special toast to Black and her new book, Basic Black: The Essential Guide to Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life), now at #15 on Amazon thanks to last week's guest spot on Oprah (see above re: tentacles, octopi) and in a fourth print run after 100,000 sold, according to Binn — who goosed those numbers by giving all assembled a copy of the book. Presents, hooray! Black rose to thank Jason, praising him as an impresario and generally showering him with praise, too. Everyone's happy after Muscati! Aw. So much love.

  • Afterwards, the party repaired to the bar, which was rockin' with the rest of the party and what would turn out to be the World Series final game. We'll leave you with our quote of the night, from Chris Napolitano, sans context: "I've never waxed my whole body, but if someone wanted to...I'd be up for it."

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