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10/11/93

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Students launch fan club for George Stephanopoulos

STANFORD - By George, they've done it.

Two puckish, policy-wonkish Stanford Business School students are putting their training to work (and play) as founders and co-presidents of the George Stephanopoulos Fan Club, a half- serious tribute to the 32-year-old White House senior policy adviser.

Why the fuss about Stephanopoulos? "He's smart and accomplished - and cute," said Polly Arenberg, 28.

"He's a symbol for the generation between 25 and 33," said Michael Melcher, 30. "Actually, we want to be George."

Arenberg and Melcher, both in their final year at the Graduate School of Business, are using some of the principles they learned in business school to salute the young Clinton administration insider.

"We sat down and worked out our strategic goals and incorporated them into a one-sentence mission statement - just the way we learned in Strategic Management," Melcher said. They also did a cost-accounting analysis of the business.

"We even use Just-In-Time manufacturing for our newsletter," Melcher said, referring to the system of delivering inventory "just in time" for use in the production process (a system employed with great success in Japan).

The two began recruiting admirers of the "Georgemeister" last spring with a $50 classified ad in Spy magazine that brought inquiries from all over the United States.

Stephanopou-philes from as far away as Thailand paid $10 for an official fan club identification card, a George button, and a subscription to the Stephanopouletter, a quarterly fanzine that Arenberg and Melcher call "a sort of cross between Tiger Beat and the Washington Monthly."

First issue of the magazine includes the latest in George sightings from the editors' "DC-PC friends"; a report of a fantasy evening with the presidential assistant ("I've just rushed home from my job with a politically-correct-but-market-oriented-organization to get ready for my dream date with George"); a quiz ("Test your Stephanopouknowledge by filling in the blanks"); and a list of George's potential enemies ("Helen Thomas, crotchety UPI White House correspondent . . . Mary Matalin, ghoulish spokesperson for the losing Bush campaign. . .").

"Our competitive advantage lies in being partial," said Melcher.

The next issue, due in October, will feature an actual photograph of Stephanopoulos' 1988 red Honda Accord, a behind-the- StairMaster report from his health club, and a "Mom-on-Mom" interview of George's mom, Nikki, by Arenberg's mom, Joan.

If Arenberg and Melcher's devotion to Stephanopoulos seems a tad compulsive, it's based on a longstanding interest in government.

Before business school, Melcher, who is also working toward a degree at the Stanford School of Law, was a foreign service officer in India, Taiwan and Washington, D.C.

Arenberg, a former advocate for cultural preservation and local elected official, was a New Hampshire field coordinator for Paul Simon's 1988 presidential campaign.

Both students believe that business can be a powerful force in changing public policy. As for the bottom line of their new venture, how many memberships have they sold?

"We are marginally profitable," said Arenberg.

"We can't tell you that," added Melcher. "We're a closely held fan club."

-jz-

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