By Carol Wallace/Managing Editor
Updated February 01, 1999 12:00 PM

And so it grows: Four years ago, PEOPLE launched its first Website. Now we’ve taken another big step: On Jan. 20, PEOPLE Online began appearing exclusively on America Online, the largest online service in the world. “We’ve created the best online magazine possible, and AOL knows how to get it in front of the largest online audience possible,” says Time Inc. New Media editor Dan Okrent. “It’s a very promising marriage.”

The AOL site offers more than our original Web site. A new celebrity database, PEOPLE Profiles, contains updated biographies of the famous (including vital statistics, so you can settle that bet on Meg Ryan’s real name), a photo gallery and access to PEOPLE stories dating back to 1984. Viewers can also call up transcripts from online celebrity chats and interviews that have featured the likes of Tom Hanks. “We’re also adding the human interest stories about real people that have made the magazine such a rich read,” says editor Marianne Goldstein.

On AOL, which is known for its ease of use, it will take fewer steps to find what you want. PEOPLE stories are available not only through the magazine’s permanent home page (keyword: People) but also on the service’s entertainment channel and through links to other channels as well. For instance, a piece about breast cancer would also be found on AOL’s women’s and health channels.

Reading, however, is only one of the attractions of the revamped PEOPLE Online. “It’ll mean more scoops—you’ll always get the news first from PEOPLE,” says Wendy Brandes, recently hired from CNN to serve as Time Inc.’s assistant managing editor for New Media (and the liaison with AOL). “And because the Web is interactive, there’s a chance to say what you think, with the click of a mouse button.”