ZEE’S FASHION ZOO: Joe Zee is amping his TV exposure up with a new show on the Sundance Channel, “All On the Line.” Under the Full Frontal Fashion umbrella, Zee will film eight episodes, with each showing a new fashion designer in crisis (raising the question as to how he will be able to choose only eight — aren’t fashion designers always in a crisis?). Zee, creative director at Elle, will step in to provide a “tough love” regimen to fix the problems in their collections. In the end, he will get each designer ready to present to a buyer or will “make or break their dreams,” according to the Sundance Channel. For those who aren’t tuned into MTV, Zee has been a regular on the network’s reality TV show “The City,” which has morphed into a 30-minute infomercial for elle.com. “Joe Zee is a perfect fit for our brand — a true creative who’s fun to watch, with a great eye for spotting and developing authentic talent,” said Sundance Channel executive vice president and general manager Sarah Barnett. Zee told WWD that he will serve as mentor to the designers and host of the show. He will also serve as a producer. “It’s about helping them get to the next level,” he said, adding the program is in the middle of casting. “I will be here to lend my expertise.”
Aside from Zee’s show, Sundance is launching a stand-alone digital magazine on Sept. 8 to coincide with New York Fashion Week. And the cable network is planning to present a new season of “The Day Before,” which will show viewers the final hours leading up to the fashion shows for Diane von Furstenberg, Versace, Alexander Wang, Narciso Rodriguez, Nina Ricci and Jeremy Scott — which, presumably, will show those designers in crisis. — Amy Wicks
DESIREE’S NEW GIG: Former White House Social Secretary Desirée Rogers has begun her post as chief executive officer of Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Co., home to Ebony and Jet, with one thing in mind: sticking to the fundamentals. “We are not yet on the iPad and everyone wants to know the glitzy and sexy things like that, but we need to get back to the level of where we were in the heyday,” Rogers told WWD. She noted that Ebony has a new editor in chief — Amy DuBois Barnett — and a new look that will start to unfold in the pages of the September issue, which probably not by coincidence has Rogers’ former boss, President Obama, on the cover, along with an exclusive interview in the White House. Rogers has served as a consultant to the magazine since June, so there’s no doubt she helped pull the strings to land her pal the Prez.
As for her road to Johnson Publishing, Rogers said she’s known chairman and now former ceo Linda Johnson Rice for 25 years and recently a very “natural and organic” conversation happened about Rogers taking over the ceo post. But if she thought the waters of a ceo suite back in her native Chicago would be calmer after the cutthroat Washington scene, she should think again: Rogers has her work cut out for her at Johnson Publishing as, year to date, Jet’s ad pages are down about 30 percent to 264 and, at Ebony, ad pages are down 12 percent, to 321, according to Media Industry Newsletter. Meanwhile, Rogers stayed mum on whether her new role will mean a return trip to New York Fashion Week: “Maybe, we’ll see.” — A.W.
JOINING THE FOOD FLOCK: Jim Spanfeller, former chief executive officer of forbes.com, unveiled plans on Tuesday for a new food-driven Web site. “It’s a very, very hot category right now, with lots of opportunity,” explained Spanfeller of the reason to go with food. “The American consciousness has reached a plateau.” The site doesn’t have a name yet, or an editor, but both will be revealed soon. Spanfeller said three editors at the top of the masthead will be named after Labor Day. He said the content will be “all things food” related, with stories for the gourmand to the easy-going foodie. “We plan to serve many different audiences, men and women,” Spanfeller added. This is just the first vertical from his company, Spanfeller Media Group. He declined to name the subjects of future Web sites. — A.W.