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Gruner + Jahr USA's Brewster ousted (11098)

11098Entertainment News2004-01-27

Gruner + Jahr USA's Brewster ousted

Daniel Brewster, the publishing executive who went up against Rosie O'Donnell in a bitter court fight over her failed magazine, has been ousted as head of Gruner + Jahr USA, the company announced Thursday. Axel Ganz, head of Gruner + Jahr's international magazine unit, will oversee G+J's U.S. operations until a replacement is found for Brewster, the company said in a statement. Brewster's departure had long been rumored in publishing circles after the company suffered a public relations debacle with the trial against O'Donnell, who accused the company of improperly inflating its circulation figures. G+J stood by its reporting practices but also appointed an outside publishing consultant in the wake of the trial to do a wide-ranging review of the company's circulation accounting. Brewster's superiors at G+J, which is a unit of the German media giant Bertelsmann AG, had previously stood by Brewster when questions arose in the past about some of his decisions, particularly a commitment of $360 million to buy Fast Company magazine in late 2000, just as the Internet bubble was collapsing.

Brewster came to Gruner & Jahr nearly four years ago from American Express Publishing with a mission to jazz up and expand the relatively sleepy magazine company, whose titles include Inc., Fitness, and YM. Brewster decided to retire the company's women's magazine McCall's and relaunch it as Rosie in a joint venture with O'Donnell. But the partnership turned sour as disagreements arose over the editorial direction of the magazine. The magazine eventually folded, and G+J and O'Donnell sued each other, each side blaming the other for the venture's failure. The court fight ended inconclusively when a judge decided to award neither side any damages. However, he did call G+J's case "ill-conceived." Brewster was a well-known executive in the magazine industry and was until last fall the chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America, the main industry association. A spokeswoman for G+J didn't return a call for comment.

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