To get a glimpse of the near future for the annual Fall Preview issue, PEOPLE sends out a flurry of queries and assignments about the films, faces and fads of the new season, and the 100 correspondents and stringers reporting to the magazine respond with a barrage of information. The incoming paperwork alone makes for a small nightmare—i.e., just another week at the office—for PEOPLE’S intrepid news bureau.
On a typical Monday morning, bureau assistant Charles Guardino arrives early to deal with as many as 150 Telex files varying in length from one to 30 pages—each duplicated 12 times and each with a specific destination. “I have a very late breakfast,” he says. In addition to fielding files and queries from the bureau, Guardino oversees a steady stream of outgoing assignments coming from the magazine’s editors. Bureau assistant Bill Brzozowski monitors and makes computer entries of up to 500 communiqués that come and go every seven days.
The magazine’s increased focus on current events has made the news bureau busier than ever. “We jump on things we didn’t jump on before,” says assistant managing editor Hal Wingo, a former LIFE correspondent and a 15-year PEOPLE veteran, who heads the bureau. Wingo and his team often negotiate the nuts and bolts of a fast-breaking cover story in little more than 24 hours, as was the case recently when actress Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered the day before PEOPLE went to press. “It was sad and tragic,” says associate editor Irene Neves, a former LIFE reporter, “but journalistically it was an interesting challenge.”
Then there’s the more routine business of attending to the stray faxes and phone calls that pour in. “You wouldn’t believe some of the phone calls,” says secretary Marge Dodson. “Like the man who wanted Dustin Hoffman’s phone number so he could take him fishing!” The job’s pressure is alleviated by the news bureau’s mutual admiration society. “We have great camaraderie and respect for one another,” says Brzozowski. “I think of this as an extension of my show business career,” says Dodson, a former Columbia Records chanteuse. “But I didn’t work this hard when I was singing.”