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TV Guide - Weekly guide to the program listings available on television. TV Guide magazine (called the "Crown Jewel" of the publishing industry) was one of the first successful TV weekly's to capitalize on the new medium of television in the early 1950s.

First Issue with Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV - I LOVE LUCY

In 1952, Philadelphia publisher Walter Annenberg saw a TV ad advertising a small weekly magazine (circulation of 150,000) called TV Digest. Purchasing it and other similar magazines (TV Forecast in Chicago and TV Guide in Washington D.C. and New York, he created a virtual monopoly in the program guide market.

The first issue of TV Guide premiered April 3, 1953 for a cost of 15 cents. The cover featured the face of Desiderio Alberto Arnaz IV, the first born child of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The cover headline read: "Lucy's $50,000,000 baby."

The magazine mission statement declared: "Your magazine is dedicated to serving constructively the television viewer."

In October, 2005, TV Guide discontinued its traditional small-scale look and bumped up the size of the magazine to a 8"x10.5" format to match other magazines in the market. To commemorate their upcoming larger look, the magazine commissioned photographers to recreate nine famous TV Guide covers using contemporary actors to play the role of past TV greats.

The covers in the series (the last of the small format) hit newsstands October 6th. They included:

  • Reba McEntire as Lucille Ball (from a set of covers published on Oct. 13, 2001)
  • The cast of "Scrubs" as the cast of "M*A*S*H" (July 24, 1976)
  • Charlie Sheen and John Cryer of "Two And A Half Men" as "The Odd Couple" (Feb. 6, 1971)
  • Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa as Major Nelson and Jeannie in "I Dream of Jeannie" (Feb. 5, 1966)
  • Homer Simpson as Fred Flintstone - as drawn by Matt Groening (June 13, 1964)
  • Jennifer Love-Hewitt as Sally Field in "The Flying Nun" (Sept. 30, 1967)
  • Dan Marino and Greg Gumbel as Crocket and Tubbs from "Miami Vice" (July 27, 1985)
  • The cast of the "Bernie Mac" show having some "Good Times" (Dec. 14, 1974)
  • Conan O'Brien as Buffalo Bob from "Howdy Doody"(June 25, 1954)

The last major physical change in the TV Guide magazine occurred February 7, 1981. This was their last stapled issue. It featured Jane Seymour in “East of Eden”. All the magazines after that were bound with a hot glue process. Personally, I prefer the staples.

By going larger, TV Guide abandoned their prominent spot at the check out counter in thousands of stores nationwide. Fear not, because Justice, an independent full-sized bimonthly crime magazine, took over the pockets left empty by TV Guide with the debut of a their downsized digest-sized January 2006 publication on sale at newsstands as of December 14, 2005.

Short history of Ownership

In August of 1988, media mogul Rupert Murdoch purchased TV Guide magazine (part of a package deal), from its owner Walter Annenberg for a price of $2.8 billion. It later sold to Gemstar.

In December 2007, Macrovision Corp. agreed to acquire Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., a media, entertainment and technology company for about $2.8 billion.

In October, 2008, the print edition of TV Guide to Beverly Hills, California-based investment firm OpenGate Capital. According to SEC filings, OpenGate purchased the magazine for $1, less than half the cost of a single copy of the magazine.

TRIVIA NOTE: On episode No.71 "The Cigar Store Indian" on the sitcom SEINFELD/NBC/1990-98 George Costanza'a father Frank (Jerry Stiller) was fanatical about collecting TV Guide magazines from "the beginning." When Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) took his copy of the December 4-10th issue (Vol. 41 No. 31) with Al Roker on the cover, Frank went berserk.

On the sitcom THE SIMPSONS/FOX/1989+ Homer Simpson revealed his literary IQ saying "Well, I've always been a firm believer in the three R's...reading TV Guide...Umm, writing to TV Guide...and renewing TV Guide."

Lucille Ball holds the record for appearing on the cover of TV Guide Magazine the most times (a total of 32 times). Runners up are Johnny Carson and Elvis Presley. See also NICKNAMES: "TV Guide"


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