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Panic at Hearst as Marie Claire Tanks

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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BREAST INTENTIONS Embattled editor Joanna Coles tries again

New Marie Claire editor in chief Joanna Coles has proven she's very good at getting press. What she has yet to prove is any facility for actually selling magazines.

Seven months after her arrival, executives at Hearst are said to be in all-out panic mode over the dismal performance of Coles' early issues. "They're completely freaking out, staying there till two in the morning every night trying to get it right," says one high-ranking editorial source. Another well-placed insider claims Hearst president Cathie Black and editorial director Ellen Levine have been meeting with Coles on a daily basis in an effort to get the magazine back on track. "I can't think of another magazine that's ever taken a plunge so fast," snipes an exec at a competing company.

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How fast? Coles' much-trumpeted first issue, with actress Maggie Gyllenhaal on the cover, sold a disappointing 380,000 copies, versus 640,000 for the previous September, according to WWD.

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