For years, the Chronicle's Leah Garchik wrote a column on the back page of the Datebook section called Personals. It was a nice enough collection of offbeat news, quotes, and notes, mostly culled from other papers and mostly about celebrities. It was a light 'n' fluffy reprieve that bisected Datebook's two back-page columnists — on the left, Jon Carroll, who thinks about things, and on the right, Adair Lara, who feels them. But on Feb. 26 all that changed when, after a brief absence, Garchik's column returned — with Page One fanfare — as something called The In Crowd. How is it different? Got us. Best as we can tell, it's a nice enough collection of offbeat news, quotes, and notes, mostly culled from other papers and mostly about celebrities. It does seem like Garchik is spending more time talking with celebrity publicists herself instead of just quoting what they say to Liz Smith, but that barely counts as a point of differentiation. Since the Chron-Ex staffs merged in November, there's been a lot of in-house talk about the upward shift in the Chron's quality. This is it?
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