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April 17, 2004

Where Fox News talent feel comfortable
April 16, 2004 -- STAR magazine has turned to cable TV to help shore up its beleaguered ranks.

The mag has hired Eric Spinato from the Fox News Channel. Spinato is known as a hard-charging producer who doesn't like to take no for an answer when underlings tell him certain news celebrities won't go on the air.

"I'm not a yeller and a screamer, but I am aggressive and I want people to think out of the box and be assertive," he said. "If I see someone on CNN or MSNBC, I say, 'Why can't we have her here?' It's a matter of being aggressive and professional. You want to be persistent and develop a rapport.

"If there's yelling sometimes, it might be out of frustration," he continued. "I don't walk in every day to yell and scream, but if someone needs something done, they know to go to Spinato."

The news of the hiring comes as Jared Paul Stern, the executive editor who joined Star less than a year ago for a reported $300,000 salary, downgrades to editor-at-large status, working in the office three days a week.

One thing Spinato said he will bring to Star is the introduction of its first-ever beat reporting system, assigning specific reporters to devour all news about specific celebrities.

He said he wants to have a reporter assigned to covering the final run of "Friends," for instance, as it goes off the air next month. And he says he wants reporters who will now be reporting directly to him to start developing more rapport with publicists.

He doesn't think he'll have any trouble adapting to the celebrity magazine fray, now one of the most combative in magazine publishing.

"At Fox, I am booking 120 guests a week," said the 36-year-old chief booker for Fox daytime shows.

Spinato said he met Bonnie Fuller, the editorial director of American Media and overseer of the Star's glossy redesign, while booking her onto weekly Fox News shows.

At the Star magazine. haha aaahh haaahaaa. Yeah, I'd say he'll fit right in.