Putting out a magazine every two weeks is no small feat, but putting out a magazine every two weeks that is interesting, useful, timely, and visually appealing — now that keeps this staff on its toes. Add to that challenge a signature cover travel feature that must meet a variety of requirements and things really get interesting.

Celebrated Weekend planning is at once carefully orchestrated and chaotic. First, by design it requires A-list celebrities, whether they be movie stars, musicians, models, athletes, authors, or, yes, political pundits. Next, it requires a top destination, one the celebrity must know well and that has broad reader appeal.

Timing is a huge factor. Many of our cover stars are promoting a new movie, CD, book, or the like. But timing goes beyond their latest projects. We try to balance the covers geographically: We don’t want several in a row, for example, on the West Coast while ignoring the East; we also consider a city’s seasonal appeal. We need a good mix of international destinations as well as U.S. cities, and include a few vacation-only destinations along with top business cities.

It’s not just a geographical juggling act. We strive for an equal mix of male and female celebrities, as well as a balance of industries. We try to avoid, for example, featuring several athletes in a row and instead aim for a mix of all types of celebrity careers. Considering our lead time (we start working on an issue months before it boards the planes) and the celebrities’ hectic scheduling demands (the interview time is a moving target), it’s a wonder it all comes together so well.

Sometimes we approach the celebrities to appear in our pages; often they approach us. Sometimes we look first for a celebrity and then determine the city; other times we focus first on our destination needs. This issue is a case in point: Several months ago we decided to do D.C. — we hadn’t covered it in a while, and with cherry blossom season approaching, the timing is perfect. Contributing editor Mark Seal set out to find us the perfect D.C. celeb, and with George Stephanopoulos, he did just that.

The juggling goes on right until the end, but that’s what makes this job — and this magazine — so interesting. Of course, there’s much more: Don’t miss Jim Shahin’s Travel feature on following the civil rights trail with his son, or our exclusive excerpt from X-Engineering the Corporation, James Champy’s newest business book.

Let us know what you think.

Elaine Srnka