PRESS TOUR: A 'Fashion Star' from Western Pa.

Friday, 06 January 2012 06:05 PM Written by 

For a link to Friday's TV Q&A column and recent posts from the 2012 winter Television Critics Association press tour, click here.

fashion_starPASADENA, Calif. -- Former Pittsburgher E.J. Johnston had it easy at the TV critics press tour. He didn't have to be on stage fielding reporters' questions, leaving that to fellow "Fashion Star" executive producer Ben Silverman, formerly a controversial top NBC programmer.

Johnston, son of former Pittsburgh Penguins coach and general manager Ed Johnston, concocted "Fashion Star" with business partner James Deutch.

"Fashion Star" takes the familiar concept of a fashion design series like "Project Runway" and adds this unique element: The judges are buyers for Macy's, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue and the designs they purchase on the show are available the next day for sale in stores and online.

Read more after the jump. ...

ej_fashion_starJohnston (pictured at right), a 1991 graduate of Upper St. Clair High School  and a 1995 grad (economics major) of Penn State, started out working in advertising, then moved over to Fox Sports. Later he went to work for IMG and got involved in fashion before forming his own company, EJD Productions, with Deutch.

He said it was the ability of consumers to buy the wardrobes seen on the series that most excited him about the program.

"The process of buying clothing is an interesting process -- how it goes from ideation to the actual floor is something really interesting," Johnston said. "So we came up with the concept to showcase that and make dreams come true."

Elle McPherson hosts "Fashion Star," which was filmed last July and August, and features Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos as celebrity mentors to the designer-contestants. The ultimate winner of the series will receive $6 million in orders for collections that will be displayed in Macy's, H&M and Saks stores.

Johnston, who moved to Pittsburgh at age 7 and lived there until going to college, said he gets back to Pittsburgh often, including a recent visit at Thanksgiving, to see his parents, siblings and his dentist -- a high school buddy.

"My dad still technically works for the Penguins," he said, "and my parents still live in the house they bought in 1979. ... I have a very special place in my heart for Pittsburgh. It's where my formative years were. The South Hills and Pittsburgh in general was a really, really great place to grow up."

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