No Play

The last item of the May 24 Message column noted that execs at the Denver Post had been discussing the future of the Sunday Style section, and suggested that its survival was unlikely. Turns out, though, that Style lives on -- sort of. The Tuesday, June 5, Post presents the debut of LifeStyle, a new feature segment that merges elements of Style with carryovers from its predecessor, known as Play. Unfortunately, the first edition is underwhelming -- a hybrid that's less effective than the concept it replaces.

Of the three new arts-and-entertainment sections introduced by the Post last year (also including Fitness and Room), Play was the liveliest and most current, since it focused on new music and DVD releases, as well as TV and film. In LifeStyle, however, Play is relegated to a single page that squeezes in truncated DVD and CD review snippets, plus Michael Booth's regular family films piece and, on the 5th, a syndicated article from the Chicago Tribune about Paul McCartney's new album. Joanne Ostrow's TV column is also supposed to be part of the package, but she's on vacation. She'll likely be relegated the space currently occupied by media columnist Dick Kreck, who's decided to take the Post's buyout package; his last day is June 15. (Look for more about Kreck and the buyout in an upcoming Message.)

As for LifeStyle, the initial offering was built around a profile of Kelly Duff, Denver's new streets director. Also on hand was a collection of snippets about asking for a raise that ran under the banner Sound Advice, plus Joanne Davidson's society coverage, an essay focusing on the death of a Marine, and a blurb introducing a contest that promises a $25 Tattered Cover gift certificate for (eeesh) the best reader-submitted haiku. These items ran in spots that were occupied in the May 29 Play by a feature about the songs of summer, longtime contributor David Thomas' well-regarded video-game column and a theater review by John Moore, among other things.

A good trade-off? Early signs aren't positive. At a time when the Rocky Mountain News' A&E section is in tremendous flux (see the June 7 Message for details), the Post was positioned to outpace its longtime rival in coverage of film and TV, in particular. But LifeStyle cuts back on much of this coverage on Tuesdays even as it juxtaposes themes that don't fit together all that well. It seems more like a forced marriage than a naturally compatible relationship. -- Michael Roberts

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