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More got lucky in its pick of a hot baby boomer cover model for May: Meredith Vieira.

Like Sara Lee, nobody doesn't like Meredith. And these days, she couldn't be more in the news. Not so lucky for More: by press time, Vieira had yet to announce her move to "The Today Show." It's an inevitable problem with monthlies, and the editors obviously did their best to keep the copy as open as possible: "Now Vieira's in play again," writes Marilyn Johnson. "Her ABC contract is up... in August, and she thinks the changing landscape in television journalism is exciting. ('I'm so happy about the buzz for Katie Couric,' she says.) But Meredith's moves are hard to predict. Money and prestige aren't topmost for her...."

Indeed, why would any well-regarded, richly compensated 52-year-old TV host with three kids and a chronically ill husband trade in a cushy job at "The View" for a daily wake-up call at 4 a.m?

We won't find out from this piece, but it's still worth reading: Vieira comes off as candid, smart and amazingly honest. (On that last front, apparently, all those years sitting next to Star Jones Reynolds have not affected her.) It's great that Vieira is so open about her age--and, seemingly, everything else. True to form, it didn't take more than a couple of paragraphs for her to plunge into talking about an abusive relationship that "escalated to the point where he actually threw me out of the apartment naked." Her biggest accomplishment, she says, after enduring four miscarriages, "is giving birth to these kids."

She's gorgeous, but can we talk about some of the God-awful get-ups the magazine put her in? The worst is a white ruffled halter and bright blue skirt with high-heeled sandals and what look like pantyhose (yikes!). The photo on the opening page is alluring, and shows off her balconied cleavage quite impressively, but is this really the time in her life and career to be parading her rack? The dress looks like the one Demi Moore wore in "Indecent Proposal" after Robert Redford forked over the million.

Earlier in the issue, fashion editor Kim Johnson Gross writes a column about just this subject, asking "What's Age Appropriate?" But she doesn't leave us with many answers: "What really matters is that you feel as comfortable in your clothes as you do in your skin," she writes. Meredith admits early on that she mostly wears jeans, peasant blouses, and clogs at home. But you go, girl, with that cleavage thing. I guess.

There's another interesting piece that hasn't gotten the attention it deserves: the first interview with Mark "Deep Throat" Felt's daughter, Joan Felt, who is also amazing-looking at 62. When the news about Felt's identity first broke, I was disappointed that Nixon's paranoia seemed not to have been far off: Felt was indeed a guy with an axe to grind. He felt passed over for the No. 1 job at the FBI. I thought the picture of him at 92, coming to the screen door of his daughter's house, all wild-eyed and smiley, to triumphantly proclaim that he was indeed the bearer of that porn name was kind of inappropriate and creepy.

The reasons get touched on in the piece. Felt's daughter recounts her life as an anti-establishment hippie who was embarrassed about her father's guns. She also seems to hold some hostility toward Bob Woodward for not collaborating with Felt on a book.

Mary Lou Quinlan's column about giving grown daughters career advice starts out like warmed-over Erma Bombeck: "Yes, macaroni and cheese is a meal." Turns out that nugget came from a reader, and the piece gets much less platitudinous once she dispenses with that reader's particular list. (Another mom advises never to wear high-cut skirts or low-cut blouses, which would shoot down Meredith's More wardrobe, for sure.)

Karen Karbo is a delightful writer, even though her piece for this issue--on memory building--is not so memorable.

My real problem is with More's design, a visual hodge-podge that comes off as sort of messy and busy and not quite contemporary. The fashion pages look like a catalogue. And the unexpected use of vintage black-and-white photos in the back of the book is charming the first time, but gets repetitive and less clever as it goes. (Especially the shot with the Three Stooges.)

The ads don't help, either: There's a totally terrifying page for Osteo-Bi-Flexe, showing a deeply tanned and glowing Regis Philbin bowling, his blue ball in mid-air. Then there's an unintended comic juxtaposition of half-page ads: On the left, in an ad for Remifemin, a woman in reading glasses rips open her shirt to reveal her bra (them damn hot flashes!). In her desperation for her relief, she seems to be bursting into the scene in the ad on the right (for Durasol), which shows four nice suburban moms demurely sitting in a backyard under an awning.

On second thought, that seems about right: It's hard to speak to all of the competing urges of women over 40. More certainly has its heart in the right place. It seems intelligent but conflicted.

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