Monday, December 17, 2007

The Food Network Has New Fish To Fry

Great article about the Food Network in the business section of The New York Times today. That's appropriate, because their programming has certainly been less about COOKING lately.

There was some GOOD NEWS!!! Next year, there will be "only" sixty new 30 Minute Meals from Rachael Ray, instead of the usual 80!

Honchos at the FN claimed, yet again, how much they loved Emeril, even after cancelling "Emeril Live". Gosh, who knows what they would have done, if they had actually admitted to being tired of him?

Mario is another story. Although there are some potential joint projects in the works, Mario knows his day there is done. “They don’t need me. They have decided they are mass market and they are going after the Wal-Mart crowd,” which he said was “a smart business decision. So they don’t need someone who uses polysyllabic words from other languages.” I really don't think Mario meant that to come off as elitist as it sounds. I think he just meant that the Food Network wants to appeal to the lowest possible common denominator these days.

Many of these changes apparently came when the FN's important weekend shows (its "In The Kitchen" lineup - actual COOKING shows) lost some viewership. What I can't tell from the article is whether this happened WHEN they switched around the lineup (removing Michael Chiarello for one), OR this is WHY they switched it up. I don't know, I just know that once he was gone, I turned off the Food Network after Ina on Saturday afternoons, never to return that day.

We also got an explanation of the whole Bobby Flay deal with Kohl's. Apparently, the Food Network was tired of its chefs becoming stars and putting their names on every little thing and not getting a piece of the action. So, now, the network is becoming much more Godfather-like in the marketing deals they are making with their hosts. That's why we can't feel too bad for Emeril. The Food Network has NO stake in his vast empire. That sounds like it will change from here on in for its other stars.

Couldn't the lesson here be that they could do two things at once? They could appeal to younger viewers (more desirable to advertisers) in primetime perhaps, while AT THE SAME TIME, give us foodies what we really want - cooking by COOKS or CHEFS? All we want is authentic QUALITY instruction with great tips and fine recipes. How hard could it be to serve that up? A smorgasbord of quality AND quackery. Keep your nonsense, if you have to, just don't take away our favorite cooks and chefs.


Emiline said...

I'm disgusted with the Food Network. Well, after reading this, I am. Is Michael Chiarello gone for good? I like him. I only like the "In the kitchen" type shows. I don't watch Ace of Cakes, Unwrapped, Dinner Impossible, etc. Not enough cooking.
Yes, the Food Network is definitely starting to remind me of "The Godfather". It's time for Mario and Emeril to move on; they really are too good.

Sue said...

Hi Em,
No, they didn't say Michael Chiarello was gone for good, in fact they didn't even mention his name, which is kind of noteworthy. I was just saying that sentencing him to the Siberia of timeslots is just one more insult in a long growing list.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

It's so sad. Why do pepole believe that if you enjoy good cooking shows, that you're obviously an elitist and therefore you're banished to the Fine Living Network? (BLEAH) I think the Food Network is losing ratings because it's losing the viewership of its original audience. They're just too short-sighted to see that.

So they reduced Rachael Ray 30MM down to a mere 60 shows? What about the other 300 shows she has on TV these days? She's like a bad penny. She just keeps turning up.

Chicagoman said...

I'm one of the lucky few that gets to watch Michael every morning, along with Bobby. Still doing some good cooking during the day, during the week. Luckily, I'm home :-)

Sue said...

Hi Shortie,
I soooooooo agree with you. And I can't watch MC on Fine Living, because he often has that tuft of hair on his chin, which is really hard to look at.

Hi CM,
WOW! You are devoted. I feel bad now that I'm not watching Mike every morning. I liked him on Saturday afternoons and I don't see why they put that very sweet and well-intentioned ninny on instead.

Chicagoman said...

The thing about Michael that I like is that he is really original with his recipes .. and for that matter even with some of his techniques. I almost always watch his show and see something that I say "ooh, that's a good idea". Even when he does his episodes where he is making ice cream creations for the kids, I get a nice idea. He can take the very simplest of ideas and put a good twist on them and, as always, he can manage the most complicated dish (uncommon these days on the FN) and show you more than a few things!

I know what you mean about replacing him on the weekends. I wish I could *snap my fingers* and put him back!

Well, I have to go. I have to go prepare my tablescape for the holidays ---- NOT! :-)

Sue said...

Hi Chi-Man,
Michael is definitely high quality. He really does offer great tips and techniques. I miss him spending Saturday afternoons with him...

Gotta go throw rocks at houses with tablescapes...