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Dinner with 'The Atlantic'

Magazine enlists boldfaced names to spread buzz
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The Atlantic has gotten loads of attention on Twitter and Facebook for provocative cover stories lately (Lori Gottlieb’s “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy” and Kate Bolick’s “All the Single Ladies,” to name a couple), and now it’s going old-school to keep the buzz going.

Atlantic Media chairman David Bradley and president Justin Smith are kicking off a series of dinners with 20 or so entertainment, media, politics and business bigs and Atlantic journalists to discuss that month’s cover story. The first was set for Monday in New York City with a dinner at Eleven Madison Park. The topic: James Fallows’ “Obama, Explained.” Alec Baldwin, Darren Aronofsky, Arianna Huffington and Lesley Stahl were among the boldfaced names who were expected to rub shoulders at the inaugural event.

If this sounds familiar, it may be because of some attention The Atlantic got back in 2009 for corporate sponsored salon-style dinners that Bradley had hosted. At the time, they were compared with The Washington Post, which got in hot water when its publisher tried to drum up financial support for dinners with the Post’s journalists. The Post ultimately back down from the effort.

An Atlantic rep said this dinner series is different from the past ones because these will focus on the topic of the cover story. Another important distinction, it seems, is that the cover story dinners, unlike the past dinners, aren’t underwritten.