by , Jan 13, 2006, 2:49 PM
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When TV Guide went from digest-sized to full-sized magazine, I wondered, for about eight seconds, what magazine would take its place at the grocery store checkout line.

Soap Opera Digest was the first and only title that came to mind as a replacement. Actually, the publication taking TV Guide's place made the journey from full-sized magazine to digest-sized to fill the empty supermarket slots.

Justice is a combination of People, Us Weekly, The National Enquirer and Court TV all rolled into one. Readers get their much-needed dose of celebrity news and profiles of "real people," seasoned with a flavor otherwise known as Lady Justice.

I didn't expect much from the magazine once I saw its main cover girl, Mira Sorvino. I know! I also wondered, "what has she done for me lately?" to garner front-page kudos. But Justice named her celebrity of the year for her role in a Lifetime movie that brought national attention to an international problem: sex slave trafficking.

The first brief in the magazine was "And Baby Makes Five?", referring to Brad Pitt hiring private home security to guard Angelina Jolie, her kids, and the rumored bun in the oven (we all know now how this turned out). I would have given this story bigger attention on the cover. Justice is competing with a handful of other pubs that will lead with the Brangelina story, and will harvest sales by doing so. So I'd suggest the magazine use this more prominently on the cover to draw attention, and then keep readers focused with the differences that do set Justice apart from the checkout line competition.

The front of the book begins with light-hearted celebrity problems. A section called "Courthouse Couture" rates the outfits celebs wear to court. The fashion jury finds that Candice Bergen and Christian Slater wore proper attire while Boy George... well, he looks better dressed as the lead singer of Culture Club.

There's also a section on whether the law is lenient on celebs (duh), and short briefs on the dumbest criminals and the dumbest lawsuits filed.

Then the pub takes a serious turn. And it's a right turn. Legal reader questions are answered by O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark and Judge Marilyn Milian from "The People's Court."

A sparring match between attorney Mark Geragos and CNN's Nancy Grace followed, and I was only disappointed when it ended too soon.

Justice also explains why Lil' Kim's prison sentence was a year and one day as opposed to a year in jail; federal cases with a one-year jail term aren't eligible for time off for good behavior. News to me.

The feel-good stories highlight a private eye who helped free an innocent man from prison and a female blogger who scours the Internet for crime clues that the police may or may not know about.

Mixed in was something that truly warmed my heart. I read that Katie Holmes' father, a big-time divorce lawyer, is creating the ideal prenuptial agreement for his daughter's marriage to Tom Cruise. Ohhhh, l'amour.

Justice's rate base is 350,000, up from 250,000, prior to its digest launch. It has also gone from a bi-monthly magazine to a monthly.

Justice is undergoing a slew of major changes concurrently. It will take some time to find its audience. My advice is to reel in readers with better covers and enticing headlines.

Once readers realize that the mag's got substance behind the entertainment coverage, it will differentiate itself from the competition and (this pun has been brewing all morning--don't judge me) Justice will be served.

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