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Four New Shows on the Food Network


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Matthew, it is fabulous to see your post and to have the opportunity to meet you! I look forward to your posts. (Especially since old FN was so near and dear to my heart!)

-Lynn

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...i developed iron chef, good eats, mario eats italy, my country my kitchen, bocuse d'or, and many other series and specials for the network...

:hmmm::hmmm::hmmm::hmmm:

Developed?

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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The preview of Food Fight appeared tonight. Is this a redneck show? :huh:

The opening episode was completely different from the commercial spots we have been forced to get excited about for the last three weeks. The scene, environment, and locale were not as advertised. :sad:

It sadly looks to be from the same people who developed Date Plate... and that's not a compliment. What can you do with pork chops, $20, and two hours? Sounds sadly familiar with date plate, a sad program in and of itself.

:sad:

EDIT: Wait a minute, they "validated" themselves when they anounced at the end of the program that time was up. Someone from Team 'X' said, "Hang on, I need to kick this up a notch."

Ahhhh, put this on my TIVO. ...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

EDIT II: At the end of the program, they gave away 'gourmet prizes.' The 'gourmet' prize of prizes was the George Foreman grill!

Even local PBS stations have higher budgets than these new FoodTV programs! :angry:

Edited by Really Nice! (log)

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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thanks for the welcome everyone.

there seems to be a few questions floating out there on the board that i can answer...

1.what happened to me at food network?

2.what is program development?

3. why do people like paula deen and kathleen daelmann get cooking shows?

4. why are there poor shows like date plate and food fight on a national network?

5. why are the budgets so thin at food network?

1. two years ago, or so, i basically started pushing way too hard for smart innovative programming. that did not go over with corporate ownership who actually told me to make "less innovative programming" and to be more like HGTV. I was really unhappy there after a long time of being passionate about my job everyday. lots of people left/got fired/were laid off at about the same time because the network really started to change purposes and lots of people did not fit with the new vision.

i was fired for "corporate insubordination."

2. program development is thinking of shows and formats and producers to make show X. So a show like "my country my kitchen" was a concept i conceived and developed into a template that any chef who was suitable could be inserted into. then i oversaw the selection of the chefs and the day to day production. same thing with "mario eats italy"

program development is also finding existing things like Iron chef and figuring out how to reformat it so that it fits into its ne home. so for example, at food network nobody wanted iron chef. they thought it would fail and that it was too weird, but they needed programming. so i figured out how to make a 70 minute show 43 minutes. i found the voice over people figured out what should be dubbed and subtitled etc...

development is also taking a kernel of an idea nd extending it like "good eats" which i discovered on the kodak website as a half an hour pilot. alton and i figred out how to extend the show and refine his storytelling arc.

of course it is also figuring out how events like bocuse d'or etc can become full fledged shows.

3. lame talent gets put on air for lots of reasons.

a. you need to throw talent out there to see what /who sticks.

b. the process at food network is very closed and often unfair. paula deen came to the network because gordon elliott had her appear on a frat house episode of doorknock dinners. gordon loved her personally and she is nice enough but really bad on air. basically gordon pushed her onto lots of appearances on the network until the only step left is to have her own show. beleive me paula and kathleen and many others got dozens of "no's" before they got their begrudging yes.

c. the network has imaginary slots they "need" to fill -- basic, southern, latin, etc and feel that if a decent person comes along who tests well then give them a show and see a) above.

4. the corporate ethos at scripps is to own your programs in all media in perpetuity. when you own your programs you have a lot more freedom with what you do with them ie cut them up, run them elsewhere, sell them etc. this is not a bad thing per se, but most good producers do not want to lose all their rights to a show if it is good. the way you make money in television is ownership or producing in bulk. so really good producers largely don't want to produce for food network unless they can keep a share somehow. so the producers who produce for food network tend to be the producers who want to establish a relationship with the network and make hundreds of hours of the same style program again and again. also scripps has inhouse production companies that make lots of show simultaneously for food and hgtv.

5. the budgets vary at food network. my theory is that a show gets the least amount of money it takes to be the best it can be (as the idea is articulated by the producers)

so a show like good eats (high concept and purpose as stated and executed) gets more money than date plate because the producers are lame and the concept is undeveloped.

hope this is an interesting start.

best,

matthew, not related to the stillking matthew stiilman in prague or to alan stillman the restauranteur.

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Awesome...We captured a disgruntled ex-food network guru...Hey, Matt ever see TEN TO MIDNIGHT with Charlie Bronson? I like you in the role, you're integrity will play the kidnapped daughter role. Words can be your 45.

Can we get you to write about this? I'm sure Eric Hahn at Restaurant Edge would practically laydown in traffic for a shot at a column. Maybe we could form a posse, a cyber-petition movement to get that network to reevaluate its suicidal tendencies. Cause you know, it's only a matter of time before these brilliant lug nuts start a Warren Commission investigation of A Cook's Tour.

You've come to the right place friend.

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Matthew:

Thank you for your explanation. I almost feel a sense of closure! Some time back I was so happy to have FN, but have recently wondered why they seem to be shooting themselves in the foot with the newest line up of programs and the loss of some real talent.

Speaking of talent, what projects are yours up to these days? Tell us more about yourself -- bang out an eGullet bio and more fully introduce yourself! I'm sure I'm not the only one interested! :cool:

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i wouldn't say i am disgruntled.

i would definitely write about this stuff and/or be interviewed.

there are lots of really smart people who care a lot about food at the network who could make great stuff if they were allowed, but there is a corporate mentality that has permeated that prefers profit over innovation. scripps is ok not being a top twenty network, they want profitability and flexibility with their cable properties for increased profit on the local level which floats stock prices.

innovation is not part of their equation. that is ok.

my problem was that i thought i could change it.

i was a fast riser there. i went from emptying buckets underneath the sink of ready set cook to writing scripts with alton brown and negotiating with fuji with three and a half years.

and while i had a lot of influence there and made a lot of things possible, a corporate entity has a tremendous amount of inertia on its side. ididn't realize that.

so there are dopes there too. it happens. but what will change the programming at food network is new ownership not petitions...sadly. or start a new competing network

if you want to find me offline i am at matthew_stillman@yahoo.com

best,

m

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If you're willing to come off a couple of names and addresses I'd be glad to write a persuasive and jarring letter on behalf of all of the food lovers out there. Don't worry I won't mention anyone but myself...no eGullet references, no names...Something's got to be done to turn the Stepford Wife mentality around. I'd be more than willing to take that on...PM me if you're willing to give the names up. Thanks.

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Matthew, it's good to see you on this board.

One question I have: did the changes at Food Network occur only after Scripps bought it? Or was the Food Network leaning toward the banal direction on its own? I've always been curious about that. Thanks.

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did the changes at Food Network occur only after Scripps bought it? Or was the Food Network leaning toward the banal direction on its own? I've always been curious about that. -----------------hmm good question. scripps was always a partial owner. if my memory holds up they took majority control in the summer of 98. or certainly they had increased their status.

that was right as iron chef was launching.

their work towards "synergy" with other scripps brands (hgtv, diy, fine living, shop at home) was a gradual process.

they didn't come in and slam the door. but at this point the synergy is synergized pretty much.

again, not a bad thing intrinsically, and certainly a legitimate business method but not good longterm philosophy in my opinion.

m

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I was really unhappy there after a long time of being passionate about my job everyday.

Welcome Mathew,

I know what you mean. I too was recently 'released' after 11+ years with the same company. For a long time I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning, but the last two years...

Anyway, how do we go about starting a new network? :smile:

Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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matt, if you could shed *any* light on the IC voice-over issue, i'd be more than very pleased. as discussed by some elsewhere on egullet, some of us think it's absolutely brilliant. and i, for one, have no idea how it could have possibly been done.

any comments would make my day. :biggrin:

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Ugh. I turned on TFN while making dinner tonight and managed to catch a few minutes of Lighten Up. That has got to be one of the stupidest things I've ever seen on TV. Unappetizing food and even more unappetizing hosts.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Matthew: I think "My Country My Kitchen" was far and away the best show on Food Net. Are they still making them? I handed a Beardie to Irene Wong last year--so I hope/assume so. Which leads me to my questions:

Where are the Gordon Ramsay and Eric Ripert episodes? Were one hour shows filmed--or are they half hours?

Is Planet Food independently produced--like my show--and whats the story with that? Some of them are pretty good..

Explain Rooney.

abourdain

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Explain Rooney.

Here is some background info on chef Rooney:

See a nice bio on Steve Rooney here...

I heard thru the grapevine he was in Toronto Canada working as a chef, but was trying to open a place in Scotland.

I'm sure the "Stanley Roper" of tv food hosts would rather forget his work with Mario. A disingenuous performance to be sure.

Edited by Kerouac1964 (log)
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Matthew:  I think "My Country My Kitchen" was far and away the best show on Food Net. Are they still making them? I handed a Beardie to Irene Wong last year--so I hope/assume so. Which leads me to my questions:

Where are the Gordon Ramsay and Eric Ripert episodes? Were one hour shows filmed--or are they half hours?

Is Planet Food independently produced--like my show--and whats the story with that? Some of them are pretty good..

Explain Rooney.

Save it for Matthew's Q&A on June 9....

Yes, Rooney... Jesus.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Matthew: I think "My Country My Kitchen" was far and away the best show on Food Net. Are they still making them? I handed a Beardie to Irene Wong last year--so I hope/assume so. Which leads me to my questions:

Where are the Gordon Ramsay and Eric Ripert episodes? Were one hour shows filmed--or are they half hours?

Is Planet Food independently produced--like my show--and whats the story with that? Some of them are pretty good..

Explain Rooney.

Thanks for the praise on "My Country My Kitchen." I agree that it is the best show produced by Food Network staff. You get shows of that quality when you have a really good producer, Irene Wong, who knows her tv production stuff and who is also knows her food and is really passionate about it.

I think Irene is still making them.

As for the Gordon Ramsay episode...I am not sure that his "where" would be interesting and while he is a shockingly remarkable chef and smart and articulate I don't think he comes across well on television, from what I have seen of him. You, Anthony, are a lovable epicurean misanthrope who comes across well on television. Gordon may just be a epicurean misanthrope without the lovable streak...IMHO.

Eric Ripert was on the list for the first season of production. I got the idea for the show from a Food and Wine article where Eric was in Andorra grilling rabbit on a piece of slate with his childhood cooking pal. The powers that be edited him off the list because Andorra wasn't "exotic enough or destination enough for a first season." Fair enough, I pushed a bit but it didn't happen. I thought he would make it on eventually. Also I love Eric on television.

MCMK is a half hour show. There may have been an hour special in their once or twice, but I don't think so. It is hard to give an hour to talent who only have one shot at supporting an hour of television.

Planet Food is independently produced by Pilot Productions in London- the same people who make the fantastic Travel Channel series "Lonely Planet." They piggy back their shoots and bang out two shows. Some of the shows are good...all are beautiful. Pilot has great style. "Lonely Planet" is still one of the best made shows on cable.

Steve Rooney.

Firstly, Steve and his wife are friends of mine, so you will only hear kind words from me because that is all I can say about them.

Steve, an accomplished chef in his own right, worked with Alton Brown on the first three seasons of Good Eats developing recipes, testing stuff, and making great comic additions to the Good Eats cast/mythology.

Steve is very funny has a solid philosophy/personal take on food and wanted to do his own thing somehow.

The opportunity came along in a way when Mean Streets Productions, the company that produced Good Eats at first, got the nod to remake Mario in "Mario Eats Italy." The powers that be at FN love to give chefs sidekicks when they are not sure they can be by themselves and be interesting (i.e. Bobby and Jacqui, no they were never an item, or Mario with his visitors at his cooking bar to name two). The show was supposed to be fun and bring out Mario's naturally funny and informed side, give him someone to teach and have adventures with. Steve was supposed to play a wide-eyed rube/dope and he did- quite well I thought.

The show didn't do badly but Steve didn't come off as well as he could have...hard to say why, but it didn't land perfectly. I wish I had as much to do with the scripts as I did with the development of the idea. I think I could have helped it. The show had all the right ingredients, sharp writers, producers, talent etc...

Anyway Steve got his very own gig in the end...so alls well that ends well.

stillman signing off.

best,

ms

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Matt: Thanks for your frank and fascinating answers. Too bad about Ramsay. The original BOILING POINT was the most riveting and accurate depiction of the real business of cooking I've ever seen. Now THAT would be something to see on FN.

Some of the MCMKs were absolutely lush and beautiful and heartfelt and should make anyone associated very proud.

I have heard similarly kind assessments of Rooney the man, but I think neither he nor Mario were well served by the comical sidekick scheme. Knowing Mario as I do, I think the last thing he needed was a script. Just let the man loose on Italy would be my strategy. Felonious Monk has never lacked for something to say in person--or on Molto. ( I think the Buford article caught that magnificent bastard in all his true glory).

Glad to have you aboard and best success in any and all your ventures.

abourdain

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