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.