Publisher's Letter

updated 10/29/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/29/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

When PEOPLE photographer Mark Sennet, 40, decided that the pink-and-white backdrop didn't work indoors, he lugged all his equipment onto the lawn of the Encino, Calif., estate, Kirstie Alley, co-star of NBC's Cheers and the subject of this week's cover story, stuck her head out of a second-floor window and bellowed, "Just remember, Mark, I want to do a glamorous picture, not one of those funny, silly shots!"

"Not to worry," crooned Sennet, who has the happy facility of charming glamour queens, matinee idols and ugly-dogs into cooperating with his daffy ideas. By the end of the session, Alley was swaddling her dog Buster in purple silk scarves for Sennet.

Long Island-reared Sennet has done more than 100 covers for PEOPLE. In his 18-year photojournalistic career, however, he has occasionally been subdued by his subject, such as the time the Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo, draped a nylon stocking around his neck at Walpole State Prison. "It was a gag," says Sennet, tongue in cheek.

To what does he attribute this knack for capturing the hard-to-pose? "Well, I am sweet," admits Sennet, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Pamela Ann, 34, and daughter, Lexi, 4.

After Sennet got the pictorial version of the story, it fell to new senior writer J.D. Reed to find the right words. A big (6'2") man, Reed, 50, produces delicate prose. "He brings a touch of poetry to the frenzy of human events," says senior editor Richard Sanders.

Reed, a former Guggenheim Fellow for Poetry (he comes by his accolades honestly), spent five years teaching creative writing at the University of Massachusetts. He joined SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in 1975, then switched to TIME in 1980 and came to PEOPLE this past July. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Christine, 43, and three daughters, Phoebe, 19, Alicia, 16, and Gabriclle, 5. Of his switch from "stuffy academia" to mass culture, Reed says, "It's the same kind of business, only now I get a whack at telling millions of people about something they really want to know about."

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