Page Buys 2 'Reader-Written' Magazines

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Page Group Publishing Inc., owner of the Orange Coast Daily Pilot and the Glendale News Press, has purchased two "reader-written" magazines--the Brentwood Bla-Bla and Beverly Hills, the Magazine--from founder Michael Lobkowicz.

Robert E. Page, the former Chicago Sun-Times publisher who declared his ambition to build a regional media company when he led an investors group that bought the two daily newspapers late last year, said he paid $1 million to $2 million for the monthly magazines.

He declined to provide further details.

The Brentwood Bla-Bla, founded in 1987, has circulation of 75,000 on the Westside of Los Angeles, according to Lobkowicz. The Beverly Hills magazine was launched earlier this year and has a circulation of 65,000. Both publications are distributed free.

Although he acknowledged that the publications were not profitable, Page said that he planned no changes in the staff of 26 people and that the editorial concept would remain the same. Lobkowicz will remain with the company as group publisher.

Both magazines feature a hodgepodge of reviews, poetry, prose and artwork submitted by the readers. Lobkowicz said the concept was to "document the life and times of the community" and provide a return to "traditional story-telling." No payment is given for submitted articles or artwork, which are published virtually unedited.

Lobkowicz said the appeal of the magazines is enhanced by articles from famous local personalities, including Zsa Zsa Gabor, Kenny Rogers and Norman Lear. Advertisers, he added, are attracted by the wealth of the Westside communities.

Lobkowicz, who founded the sexually oriented L.A. Star as an alternative newspaper in 1971, said a third magazine that he recently launched, titled the Prince and the Bear, will be reformulated to appear as a reader-written insert in Thursday editions of the Daily Pilot, which is based in Costa Mesa.

The New York investment firm D. H. Blair had provided bridge financing to Lobkowicz earlier this year in exchange for a stake in the company, but Lobkowicz said that loan had been paid off.

Officials at D. H. Blair could not be reached for comment.

Page confirmed that Lobkowicz's company "has struggled a bit" but attributed the problems to "shortage of sophisticated marketing." He added that he was "very bullish" about the concept of a reader-written publication.

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