Barry Diller's Silent Partner

True to his reputation as the most secretive of media moguls, S.I. Newhouse Jr. remains mum about his $500 million investment in QVC Network, announced Oct. 17. "He doesn't want to talk at all about this," says a spokeswoman.

Like it or not, the investment by his $4.6 billion Advance Publications--which hinges on QVC's takeover of Paramount Communications--is bound to thrust Newhouse into the limelight. His sprawling empire, which consists of Conde Nast magazines, a newspaper chain, book publishers, and cable-television systems, places him squarely on the information-provider side of what QVC Chairman Barry Diller calls the evolving "architecture of interactivity."

Hollywood insiders say Newhouse and Diller, longtime friends, had discussed a deal for weeks but that Newhouse actually took the initiative when Paramount came into play. The investment is atypical for Advance. But then, Newhouse has been tinkering with his empire recently. He abruptly shuttered his Turtle Bay Books publishing house in February. In April, he bought tony Bon Appetit and Architectural Digest, then killed Conde Nast's HG, an Architectural Digest rival. Analysts say that Advance had to make a bold multimedia move now or risk being left behind.

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