David Zinczenko Is Back at Men's Health

It would appear that David Zinczenko has more lives than your average editor—and that Hearst, the new owner of Men's Health, is somewhat fonder of the magazine's most famous steward than his former boss was. It was revealed today that Dave Z is coming back home—joining Men's Health as interim editorial director now that Rodale's sale to Hearst has been finalized. And it is Dave who has the last laugh—again. You may recall that five years ago, former Rodale chief exec Maria Rodale infamously bounced the longtime Men's Health editor, saying his contract was up and that it seemed "a good time for a change." Zinczenko is a Pennsylvania native who'd spent his entire publishing career, over two decades, at Emmaus, Pa.-based Rodale and who, in 2010, even gave the eulogy at a well-attended hometown memorial service for Maria's mother, Ardie Rodale, which I happened to attend. (As I recall, Dave was the only employee of the Rodale company and the only non-family member invited to speak that day.) As someone who'd apparently fallen out of favor at Rodale, Dave found himself in good company—he was one in a long, messy string of editors, publishers and other top executives the company would run through in the years after Maria took over the family business. And yet, no one had deeper roots at the company than Dave—nor had anyone else there risen as high, become as famous, or come to earn a bigger paycheck. As Maria noted in her acidic sendoff in the New York Post, Dave had fashioned quite the "high-profile life" for himself since he'd joined the company as a mere kid and budding journalist, having in the years since made his name in Manhattan social circles as a restaurateur, author, fitness expert on morning TV, sometime paramour of minor celebrities, and best friend and business partner of Dan Abrams, a pairing of bros about town that was once profiled in the Times and that Graydon Carter was fond of comparing to the two hapless dudes in "A Night at the Roxbury." (Until they became investors in their own restaurants, Dave and Dan were regulars at Carter's Waverly Inn in its heyday. It was there that, some years ago, I was dining with Dave when the Grand Poobah himself entered the room and, upon seeing Dave playing with his iPhone, signaled to the help—in what he must've thought was a discreet gesture—to order him to put it away at once. Graydon hated cell phones at the table, and it wasn't something he was shy about letting offenders know.) When they parted company, Maria hinted that Men's Health had, perhaps, become a little too aligned with its star editor—who I selected as Adweek's Editor of the Year in 2009, back when I was running that magazine's special issues. We recognized Dave for dramatically expanding the Men's Health brand into a post-print empire—something that has become all the more urgent as magazine ad revenues continue to tank. Maria's take on Dave's tenure? She commented that the magazine was not, in fact, "Dave's Health, it's Men's Health." (Meow.) It wasn't long before Dave had his revenge—jumping over to Men's Health's chief rival, Men's Fitness, part of Trump pal David Pecker's stable of media brands, including The National Enquirer. (When he left Men's Health, he agreed to a noncompete that precluded him from joining ranks with a range of men's magazines, including GQ and Esquire, but not, weirdly enough, the most logical destination, Men's Fitness.) A year ago, the tables would turn again, and Dave would exit AMI following another yet shakeup there—not that anyone expected a marriage between Zincenko and Pecker, an odd couple if there ever was one, to last. Think Beauty and the Beast. (I've got a good story about Pecker and Trump—one that happens to involve first daughter Ivanka—you should remind me to tell you sometime.) In the year since he left AMI, Dave has been writing his fitness books and going on the Today show to talk about wellness for dudes. But no matter what a bon vivant he aspires to be, Dave is a guy who's got ink in his veins and who seriously loves magazines. So don't be surprised if that interim gig at Hearst turns into a more permanent one.

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