History[edit] Los Angeles was first published in 1961. It was purchased by CHC in 1973. ABC bought the magazine in 1977. ABC was eventually bought by The Walt Disney Company, which sold Los Angeles to Emmis in 2000.[3] The magazine was purchased by Hour Media LLC on February 28, 2017.[4]            Los Angeles Magazine was founded by Geoff Miller, a 1960 UCLA graduate student, and Dave Brown, an advertising executive, in June 1960. It was the dawn of the 1960s—which happened to look far more like the ‘50s than anything we remotely associate now with “The ‘60s.”            It was still the era of three-martini lunches—and no cell phones. There was no Music Center, no County Museum of Art, no Santa Monica Freeway. There was no LAX, as we think of it today. There was a new Sports Arena, and the Democratic Party, familiarly enough, was about to stage its National Convention there. (There was, of course, no Convention Center yet and to be sure, no Staples Center.)           Also, as it happened, there were no independently published “city magazines” in any major city—the term hadn’t even been invented yet. New York magazine was still eight years away. There was no Chicago magazine, no Washingtonian, no Boston and no San Francisco. A Philadelphia (or Greater Philadelphia) did exist, but it was still published by the Chamber of Commerce and usually featured a middle-aged guy in a suit on the cover.            In other words, Los Angeles began life with no instruction manual.            All kinds of people had already made faltering attempts at launching a magazine for Los Angeles over the years, most of them slavishly mimicking The New Yorker—which was really a literary magazine. Independently, I’d been involved in formatting an urban arts magazine while taking a Masters in journalism at UCLA,  when I happened on a 30-something ad executive named David Brown, who had a similar, but much more ambitious scheme: Los Angeles was to be a magazine celebrating the unruly young city in all its contrary glory. It would accept the community on its own terms—as the collection of villages it truly was, still looking for an identity, if not a center. It was indeed the city of infinite possibilities, where one could reinvent oneself daily, if so desired. Trouble was, nobody could figure out the terrain: it needed instructions, which we would attempt to provide. Our magazine would sort out the possibilities, help the reader deal with all that newfound freedom to redefine his or her own life.            On an absurdly paltry startup stake, something like $50,000, we launched in the summer of 1960 with a staff of perhaps six to eight people, which was soon to dwindle even further, along with our finances. Ironically, our offices were on Rodeo Drive, which in a few short years would turn into the most expensive street in America.            Dave and I literally put together our 48-to-64-page issues by ourselves, cutting, pasting and making up the pages by hand—and most would say the magazine looked it. We had no art or design director, and not just because we couldn’t afford one. At that time, except for the large picture books like Life and Look, most magazines were still constructed to be read, not merely looked at. Although television had been around for more than a decade, the magazine industry was still largely in denial about the importance of graphics. Dave himself had an almost pathological abhorrence of “designeritis”—a magazine looking as if it were run by the art department. We were certainly in no danger of that.            What pulled us through those first issues, quite frankly, was the surprising quality and wit of the writing. We had cajoled for ourselves a phenomenally talented stable of freelancers, most of them quite literally moonlighting from the local Time-Life bureau, which was nearby. They included Jim Murray, Charles Champlin and Art Seidenbaum, together with occasional generous contributions from brand names like Ray Bradbury, Joseph Wambaugh, Caroline See and Budd (“What Makes Sammy Run”) Schulberg. The fact that they would all agree to do some of their best work for almost no money could only have been blamed on those three-martini lunches—a professional obligation at which Dave happened to excel.            There were times when our incredibly prolific moonlighters were responsible, under various pseudonyms, for filling entire issues with their steaming output. The fact was that, owing to Time, Inc. policy, they couldn’t use their own bylines. Thus Jim Murray was usually “James Hartford,” Chuck Champlin was “Charles Davenport,” and so on. Even today, I’m secretly amused to stumble upon a passage in some learned tome about the city quoting the writings of “James Hartford” or “Charles Davenport.”            Our first permanent film critic was Burt Prelutsky, who had gone to UCLA with me, and who later became a highly successful scripter for TV shows like “M*A*S*H.” Burt was utterly fearless in his pronouncements, which made him stand out in a press town that still largely pandered to the major studios. Burt’s candid, often scabrously funny assessments were unheard of—bordering on scandalous. Of one turkey of the period, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” he wrote, “Starts out with a bang and ends up chitty.” Reviewing Stanley Kramer’s rigidly P.C. (by ‘60s standards) “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” starring Sydney Poitier as an impossibly virtuous M.D. who becomes engaged while in Hawaii to a white heiress from San Francisco, Burt noted: “The girl returns to San Francisco by plane. Sydney walks.”            Then, as now, “the Industry” was altogether humorless and thin-skinned about itself. They hated Prelutsky, but read him secretly as a kind of guilty pleasure.            At that time, the L. A. Times had no major music critic, no restaurant critic of any kind and their film reviewers rarely met a movie they didn’t like. One by one, Murray, Champlin, Seidenbaum and Prelutsky were hired by the Times and ordered to cease freelancing for Los Angeles. (Murray, of course, earned a richly deserved Pulitzer for his Times sportswriting, but defied orders by continuing to pen the odd essay, now under his own name, for Los Angeles.) For good measure, the Times even hired our restaurant critic, Lois Dwan. Without ever acknowledging it, the paper had been handed all the evidence it needed of its own dullness. ∞            By early 1961, our slim startup funds had run out, and Dave Brown began beating the bushes for new backing. I was still a poor but carefree postgraduate, but Dave had a large family to support. With remarkable courage, he managed to keep the magazine alive, even if it meant skipping an issue or two. He ultimately found his new angel in Harry Volk. Harry was a very civic-minded individual, deeply involved in raising funds to build the new Music Center, among other worthy projects. He was also head of Union Bank, but he agreed to finance the magazine out of his personal funds, which meant he could advance us just enough year to year to keep afloat.            Needless to say, this put great pressure on us simply to make the magazine “work,” a tall order in a market as mysteriously ill-defined as Southern California. It forced us to really think through what our particular target audience needed—what they could be made to feel was indispensable to their lives here. Out of that desperation, we ended up creating most of the annual features that would become standard fodder for all the city magazines to come: The Restaurant Annual, the Best and Worst issues, the real estate guides, the Best Doctors, Hospitals, Schools, Neighborhoods, etc.            Our May “52 Great Weekends” issue became so popular that I added, somewhat redundantly, a Winter Weekends Guide in November to join it. One of our early film critics, John Barbour, enjoyed telling people, “I write for a magazine called Los Angeles... all it does is tell you how to get out of town.”            As of the mid-to-late-’60s, we could truly see this format begin to click, not only with our readers, but with all the other city books that had come along in our wake. I was often asked how it felt to have helped to create a new publication genre. My answer was always, “If I knew we were creating a ‘genre,’ I might have taken it more seriously.” Mainly we were just trying to stay in business through some very difficult times. We were well aware that we couldn’t compete on service pieces alone, but they remained at the heart of our formula—and it was beginning to work. ∞            In 1973, New York magazine, feeling its oats under Clay Felker’s brilliant editorship, announced its intention to acquire Los Angeles. The country was entering a prolonged recession that year, and Los Angeles, underfunded as always, was struggling. The national general interest magazines—Life, Look, The Saturday Evening Post—were going out of business one by one, and New York, now five years old, was one of the few new magazines garnering any national attention.            What was less well-known was that New York, for all the excitement its editorial had generated, had yet to show any consistent profit. Undeterred, Felker and his staff descended on our offices and even consulted with us over proposed directions Los Angeles might take under their ownership. New York’s investors, meanwhile, were getting restless and were less than enthusiastic over Felker’s expansion plan. The deal to purchase Los Angeles collapsed, and I can remember the last words uttered by the New Yorkers as they retreated to Gotham: “Don’t worry, we’ll be back.”            Barely days later, Los Angeles was sold to a small holding company headed up by entrepreneur Seth Baker. In the wake of the breakoff of negotiations with New York, Baker had stepped up to the plate and slightly bettered the bargain price New York had offered—which in turn was a tiny fraction of what Felker’s group would spend on an attempted reentry into the market later.            Within a year Dave Brown, tired of his 14-year struggle, but recognizing that the magazine was at last afloat, stepped down, turning his publisher’s duties over to an old friend, “Delle” Delle Monache. Delle, to our satisfaction, was very loyal to Dave’s visions and concepts, but he was also an extremely effective executive, capable of keeping a sharp eye simultaneously on editorial, circulation and advertising. At the same time, I was able to bring in an energetic, hard-driving managing editor, Lew Harris, freeing me up to concentrate on the magazine’s overall creative direction. Years earlier, I had hired a versatile art director, Bill Delorme, who in turn brought aboard any number of young, budding artists and photographers, including Herb Ritts, Matthew Rolston and Greg Gorman. (An early photographer and cartoonist was a California beach boy-turned-hippie named Terry Gilliam, later to gain fame—much to our astonishment—as a Monty Python member and then as a highly respected filmmaker.)            In the early ‘70s, under Seth Baker’s urging, we pioneered the use of celebrity covers— for better or worse. Surprisingly enough, no one else was doing them yet on any regular basis, except for fan magazines. (People and the revived Vanity Fair were yet to launch.) I initially opposed the concept, fearing it would make the magazine look too “Hollywood,” but we found a technique to make it work by portraying the celebs humorously and, in a way, as fellow residents. Before cover personalities perfected today’s art of putting an army of negotiators between themselves and the people trying to shoot them, we were actually able to deal directly with the celebrities and usually talk them into spoofing themselves, in a generally good-natured way. I recall one instance in which we had shot a newly-famous Farrah Fawcett in a variety of swimsuit poses, including one semi-salacious take of her down on all fours, looking provocatively at the viewer. With great trepidation, I went over the shots with Farrah, sure that she would angrily veto that pose. To my amazement, she blurted out, “That’s the shot!” We went with it, and to no one’s surprise, it turned into a newsstand sensation, and was later made into Farrah’s second biggest selling poster. ∞            Three years after their initial bid for Los Angeles, Clay Felker’s group made good on their promise and, in one of the most expansive promotion campaigns ever witnessed, launched New West magazine here in a format exactly mirroring New York’s. You could not turn on the radio or TV or look at a billboard without hearing about the fabulous new magazine that New Yorkers had graciously condescended to bestow upon us. Naturally, all their promotion stressed that Los Angeles had never before had a real magazine, a rather patronizing distortion that was not lost on Los Angeles’ rapidly building readership, at that time renewing its subscriptions at an encouraging rate of nearly 80%.            The extravagant New West launch did score particularly well in many quarters of the media community, however, including some of our own admittedly underpaid contributors. I couldn’t really blame most of those who defected, although I noted privately that New West seemed unable to get off the ground without poaching much of its talent from a competitor they refused to admit existed. It was the L.A. Times all over again.            One of the ironies of New West’s overreaching promotion was that it had awakened national advertisers, mostly based in New York, to the importance of the Los Angeles market. Of course, they bought ad pages in New West, but for the first time, they also began buying into the magazine bearing the city’s name. Los Angeles’ national advertising exploded, adding to an already well-established base of local retail advertising, a category New West was never able to consistently crack.            Most of the media, enamored of Felker’s well-deserved editorial reputation, failed at first to notice this potentially fatal real-world disparity. Eventually, however, Joe Pilcher, a Los Angeles-based Time magazine correspondent, took note of the David-and-Goliath scenario developing around the attempted East Coast media invasion and wrote a major piece contrasting all of New West’s startup problems with the stealth upsurge, editorially and financially, of its less visible 17-year-old competitor. It was the beginning of the end for New West.            The favorable Time magazine story also piqued the interest of various media interests around the country, who were just beginning to recognize the viability of special interest publications in general, and regional magazines in particular. American Broadcasting Company, which had just become a huge TV power for the first time in its history, was looking to diversify into other fields. In 1977, they added Los Angeles to their small existing stable of specialty publications, at the same time hiring Seth Baker to head up the division.            Having always run our own shop, we were at first trepidatious about taking orders from a media conglomerate 3000 miles away. It soon became evident, however, that the terms of the ABC deal were quite simple: we send them the promised profits every month, they leave us alone. I can’t recall one instance in which ABC, at the corporate level, ever tried to dictate or interfere with our editorial coverage, even when we were highly critical of their programming or personalities. Which is not to say we didn’t make plenty of people at ABC angry over the years. One station manager in particular virtually threatened me once at a party. But the tone at the higher executive levels was always set by the company’s legendary founder, Leonard Goldenson, one of the most generous, supportive chief executives the media industry has ever known.            Under ABC, Los Angeles enjoyed its greatest period of growth, ballooning from 79,000 circulation to 172,000 in a mere span of a couple of years. Advertising also reached gargantuan proportions under Bert Pucci and his sales staff, peaking with issues of nearly 600 total pages, over half of which were advertising. In 1978 and ‘79, Los Angeles carried more ad pages than any monthly of any kind in the country. The sheer blatancy of the magazine’s success became something of a joke. At one gathering, I’d been talking to then- D.A. Ira Reiner when I apologized that I had to leave early to watch a new TV series based partly on Los Angeles Magazine. “Oh really,” said Reiner’s wife, Judge Diane Wayne, who was standing nearby. “The show must be all commercials.”            Lew Harris, Rodger Claire and the rest of the editorial staff distinguished this period as well with investigative and feature pieces of real significance, such as the Billionaire Boys Club exposé, which was later made into a celebrated TV movie. The magazine took controversial stands against the Metrorail concept, predicting all the problems which have since dogged the system. Los Angeles was also the only publication to suggest (correctly) that the scandalous McMartin Pre-School trial would end in acquittals all around. We were even nominated by Columbia University’s National Magazine Awards for their highest honor, the General Excellence Award—the periodical equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize. Watching the quality of the editorial content improve, our resident acerbic humorist, Rubin Carson, remarked that he was surprised to see us “stoop that high.”            Despite the magazine’s generally genial tone and appearance, we never hesitated to tweak the city’s powerful, whether they were celebrities or politicians. Former Executive Editor Rodger Claire recalls the almost surrealistic aftermath of a very tough Los Angeles profile of Gil Garcetti. The D.A. requested a meeting with the editors to protest a number of points in the story. The parties met in Los Angeles’ offices in the midst of the endlessly televised O. J. Simpson trial, and with Garcetti’s acquiescence, a TV droned on while he and the editors talked. Suddenly, in the midst of the acrimonious court proceedings, Marcia Clark, Garcetti’s hand-picked prosecutor, urgently requested a brief recess. “The next thing we knew,” Rodger recalls, “Garcetti’s cell phone went off. He talked discreetly, but it was obviously Marcia Clark. Minutes later, Garcetti resumed our conversation, beaming with self-importance as he informed Lew Harris and me that it was indeed his prosecutor checking in for guidance. And there, on the TV, was Clark, back in court and following through on Garcetti’s instructions.” ∞            Following the triumph of the ‘84 Olympics, Los Angeles as a market began a slow, decade-long decline, followed by a severe recession from which it is only  now fully recovering. It began with the radical downsizing of the defense industry, followed by the collapse of the real estate market, helpfully punctuated by riots (‘92), raging wildfires and finally the massive earthquake of January 1994. I began to joke with our proprietors that they could expect to see the locusts cued any day now.            All of our competitors dropped by the wayside, but there was never any question of Los Angeles’ survival. After all, we were foolish enough to have started with no money in the midst of a recession in 1960, and we’d seen many more come and go. We knew how to pull in our horns and muddle through.            But one day I looked around and realized I’d been with the magazine nearly 35 years—more than that, really, since I had worked on its prototype while still at UCLA. That was a longer run—and a more satisfying one—than any sane person deserves. Our durability over the years had of course attracted any number of competitors: L.A. Style, Buzz and scores of others few remember. Most were well-designed, well-written and often greatly admired by the media and advertising communities. Other aspirants, no doubt, will eventually be heard from. I always took our competitors seriously, even tried to learn from them. In analyzing why they all failed, while Los Angeles celebrates its 40th year, one or two thoughts strike me. Perhaps they were all too much of their own time (not that Los Angeles hasn’t shared that weakness on occasion). The very thing that made them temporarily “hot” ultimately had a built-in “sell-by” date.            I’m drawn to a comparison with that other long-distance champ, Sunset, now honing in on its 80th year. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a media type (myself included) who didn’t smirk a bit at the very mention of Sunset. Yet here it is, in the Internet age, still plugging along as powerfully as ever with its indelible mix of reader service and reader identification. Nobody loves it but its audience.            As I watched a magazine like Sunset over my shoulder through the years, I tried never to forget its lesson: Every magazine has a unique DNA—its connection, in a real bonding sense, with its chosen readership. You don’t choose a magazine, a magazine chooses you.

References[edit] ^ "ABC". ABC. Archived from the original on June 4, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2013.  ^ "CRMA Magazines". City and Regional Magazine Association. Retrieved October 14, 2013.  ^ "Los Angeles Magazine Is Sold". The New York Times. January 25, 2000. p. C2.  Missing or empty |url= (help) ^ Peltz, James F. "Top editors let go after Los Angeles magazine is sold to Hour Media Group". latimes.com. Retrieved 2018-03-04. 

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