Diane Haithman is a contributor to Deadline Hollywood
Could this year’s Emmy Reality and Reality-Competition categories turn into a food fight?
Perhaps more important: Should there be a law preventing a chef from wrapping zucchini around a toasted marshmallow, creating the S’More from hell (observed in a recent installment of Chopped)?
The stage — or should we say table — has been set. In 2010, Bravo’s Top Chef knocked The Amazing Race off its 7-year pedestal by taking home the Emmy for best Reality-Competition program (Race came back for another two wins before being unseated by The Voice in 2013). “I believe it was the first prominent, prime time food show to win the category,” says Primetime Emmy Award chair Bob Boden. Read More »
Anthony Anderson (The Departed, Law & Order) will be hosting the new Food Network series Food Fest Nation, which will air on Monday, July 21 at 9 pm ET/PT. Anderson will tour food festivals around the country, spotlighting regional cuisine. Stops on Anderson’s fest tour include the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival in Fernandina Beach, Fla.; the Magnolia Blossom Festival & World Championship Steak Cook-Off in Magnolia, Ark. where 4,000-plus kinds of ribeye steaks compete for a $10,000 prize, as well as the Long Grove Strawberry Festival in Long Grove, Ill. where the specialty menu items are strawberry ricotta ravioli and strawberry balsamic chicken. Anderson previously competed on Chopped and appeared as a judge and competitor on Iron Chef America. This fall, he stars and produces the upcoming ABC sitcom Black-ish. Anderson is repped by UTA, Principato-Young as well as Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson and Binder.
Food Network and Cooking Channel today unveiled 35 new series that will roll out during the next several months. Among the new additions on Food Networks’ slate, announced during Scripps Networks Interactive‘s upfront in New York, is The Valerie Bertinelli Project (wt) set for a September premiere. It features the Hot In Cleveland star and bestselling cookbook author and her husband preparing dinners for family and celebrity friends in their Los Angeles home. Bunim/Murray is producing. Also on the slate is an expansion of the Chopped franchise set for a July premiere. The five-episode Chopped Teens Tournament features 16 talented teenage chefs who must create the perfect appetizer, entree and dessert as they navigate through each round. The winner from each episode heads into the finale with a chance to win a $25,000 grand prize and culinary school scholarship. Notional is producing for Food Network. New Food Network and Cooking Channel series include: Read More »
Deirdre O’Hearn moves to Food Network from WE tv, where she served as VP Development & Talent. In her new role as SVP Programming and Development for Food Network and Cooking Channel, O’Hearn will oversee the programming team, lead development strategy for current daytime and primetime programming as well as manage relationships with outside production partners. The appointment was announced today by Bob Tuschman, General Manager and SVP, Food Network. At WE tv, O’Hearn helped develp many of the networks most popular series, including Mary Mary, SWV: Reunited, Kendra On Top, LA Hair and Marriage Boot Camp. Earlier in her career, she spent 16 years at A&E Television Networks, most recently as VP of Non-Fiction & Alternative Programming.
Paula Deen is looking to grow her brand again less than a year after being dropped from her high-profile gig at Food Network. Paula Deen Ventures — which includes Paula Deen Foods, Paula Deen Media, Paula Deen Restaurants, Paula Deen Cookware and Paula Deen Home — is being backed by Najafi Media, the deep-pocketed content and distribution subsidiary of Najafi Cos. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because it is: Founder and CEO Jahm Najafi was the principal investor and financing partner who with Jeff Berg launched Resolution talent agency in January 2013 — the first major full-service agency start-up in almost two decades. Paula Deen Ventures will be run by retail veteran Steven Nanula, who for the last two years led the development of the Paula Deen Food Company.
Nanula told the Wall Street Journal the company is in talks with TV networks and other possible partners, but no deals have been signed. The WSJ says the investment is from $75 million-$100 million.
Najafi is a former Salomon Bros banker active in real estate and private equity. The Phoenix-based firm has been in the mix of several deals as it adds to its entertainment industry holdings, which include ownership stakes in the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, Direct Brands (BMG Music Service, SkyMall, Columbia House and Book Of The Month Club), and Toronto-based recorded media manufacturer Cinram. “All of us at Najafi Companies have a deep respect for the hard work, unique content and quality products which Paula has built around her brand,” Najafi said today in a release announcing the partnership with Deen. “We know that the enterprise will be successful and valuable, as Paula and her team continue to bring quality products and experiences to her loyal fan base; and now we have a proven management team in place to build and lead the organization.”
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Paula Deen visits another of the stations of the cross on her road to TV redemption tonight — she’s the subject of an E! True Hollywood Story. E!THS says it will detail the “rags to riches tale of a broke, divorced mother of two who carved out a multi-million dollar empire as America’s southern sweetheart, only to see it all fall apart amidst a national scandal ignited by a lawsuit.” Deen’s career resuscitation has been TV-tantalizing since the lawsuit was dropped that had sparked her N-word scandal, nuking her TV reign and multiple endorsement deals — a career nosedive hastened along with an interview on NBC’s Today show she botched so badly even Today panned it.
First, reports got out she’d hired the real-life Olivia Pope — not the character canoodling POTUS, but the crisis management specialist on whom the hit ABC primetime soap Scandal is based. Then, two months ago, Deen made a pre-taped cameo on Fox’s MasterChef. Last month, the ex-Food Network star made her first live public appearance since her June mea culpa media blitz, opening the annual Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show in Houston with a pair of cooking demos that earned her a standing ovation. “I’ve said all along that the one place I’d want to make my first step back out is Texas. Y’all’s hearts are as big as … Read More »
Celebrity chef Paula Deen took a big step toward becoming non-toxic-for-TV today, when lawyers signed a deal dropping that discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit that wound up costing Deen her Food Network gig, among other business relationships. Both sides agreed to drop the lawsuit “without any award of costs or fees to any party,” according to a document filed in U.S. District Court in Savannah, the Associated Press reports. Former employee Lisa Jackson had sued Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers last year, saying she suffered from sexual harassment and racially offensive talk and employment practices during her five years as a manager of a restaurant Deen and Hiers co-owned. During a deposition related to the lawsuit, Deen acknowledged having used racial slurs in the past and, when a transcript became public in June, the media frenzy led to Deen being dumped by Food Network and other business partners.
Related: Paula Deen Can’t Be Sued For Racial Discrimination, Judge Says
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A federal judge in Georgia says a former restaurant manager can’t sue celebrity chef Paula Deen for racial discrimination. But the ruling today by U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. leaves sexual harassment claims against Deen intact, the AP reports. In his decision, Moore said Lisa Jackson had no standing to sue Deen on basis of racial discrimination. Jackson’s lawsuit against Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers started an avalanche of bad press for Deen leading to the collapse of her cooking empire. Food Network dropped her and other business partners followed after it was revealed that she confessed to using the N-word in a deposition for Jackson’s suit.
Related: Paula Deen Lawsuit “Never Been About N-Word” Says Plaintiff
Wednesday’s live sitdown interview will be exclusive to NBC’s Today whose Matt Lauer had been scheduled originally to talk to Paula Deen on Friday. “She has told us she will be here this time,” Lauer said today on the air. The Southern comfort food cook was a no-show citing exhaustion Friday, the same day she received the bad news that The Food Network wasn’t going to renew her contract when it expires at the end of June. This, despite her release of two videotaped apologies for using “N-word” racial slurs in her past. Today on its website asked whether Deen can stage a comeback after the racism allegations. But this TV appearance also may re-ignite the media frenzy after what appears to be a public backlash to Deen’s punishment for what seemed a survivable scandal on the surface. Now the entire matter has sparked a national debate about what constitutes ”acceptable” old and new Southern attitudes towards race.
Related: Food Network Chops Paula Deen After N-Word Slur; UPDATE: Her Response Read More »
Related: Paula Deen To Face Matt Lauer On ‘Today’
UPDATE: Paula Deen’s statement today: “I would like to thank The Food Network for 11 great years. Because of the gift The Food Network gave me, I have had the pleasure of being allowed into so many homes across the country and meeting people who have shared with me the most touching and personal stories.”
The Food Network told Deadline just now that it would not renew Paula Deen’s contract when it expires at the end of June. The announcement came following the popular Southern comfort food cook’s no-show for an interview on The Today Show and release of a pair of videos apologizing for her use of racial slurs — including the N-word — stemming from a 2012 discrimination lawsuit and specifically a May 17th deposition filed Monday in U.S. District Court. This follows another Deen controversy when she revealed in 2012 that her high-sugar, high-fat, high-calorie cooking had caused her to become a Type 2 diabetic — and then immediately began hawking drugs for the disease in profitable endorsement deals. But that backlash was nothing compared to the public outrage over this latest scandal. The Food Network did issue a statement on the matter early on, saying the channel “does not tolerate any form of discrimination and is a strong proponent of diversity and inclusion. We will continue to monitor the situation.” Today the Food Network did not … Read More »
At Least Four UK Nets Lining Up To Bid For FA Cup Rights
A bidding war reportedly is gearing up in the UK for TV rights to soccer tournament the FA Cup for the three seasons to 2017-18. Financial Times reports that BT, ITV, BSkyB and the BBC are entering bids. BT and ITV currently share rights to the FA Cup until the end of the 2013-14 season. FT says analysts predict that having all four in the ring could significantly push up the cost of the rights. In January 2012, ITV acquired free-to-air broadcast rights for 16 FA Cup games per season, along with some of England’s home qualifying games, for an annual cost of £43M. But the BBC is understood to be concerned about its lack of live soccer during the regular season. BT and BSkyB are still expected to be the most aggressive bidders.
Shanghai Now Second-Biggest Box Office Among Chinese Cities
Shanghai box office has become the second biggest of all mainland Chinese cities and is expected to continue to grow rapidly in the next few years, spurred on by investment from U.S. studios Disney and DreamWorks, according to a study by Artisan Gateway. In 2012, Shanghai’s box office was $214.2 million, a 22.2% year-on-year growth. The city, regarded as the birthplace of Chinese cinema, has 122 movie theaters, just two more than the No. 1 Beijing market. The U.S. Consulate, which sponsored the study, said it plans to contribute more to protecting IP rights, Shanghai Daily reported. Read More »
The company behind HGTV, Food Network and other lifestyle channels has a great topline story to tell for Q1. The bottom line? Not so much. Net income came in at $151.2M, -3.7% vs the period last year, on revenues of $594.4M, +11%. The revenue figure was well above the $582.5M that analysts expected. But earnings attributable to Scripps Networks investors, at 72 cents a share, were 2 cents shy of the consensus forecast. The company says that ad sales and affiliate fees were both up 11% in early 2013, respectively to $395M and $187M. Food Network revenues came in at $208.3M (+4.8%), with HGTV at $206.0M (+10.9%), Travel Channel at $76.4M (+15.1%), DIY Network at $$31.9M (+15.4%), Cooking Channel at $26.3M (+32.7%), and GAC — Great American Country — at $6.4M (+28.2%). But expenses for the quarter, at $347M, were +17%. Scripps Networks says that the increased outlays were “driven by programming amortization expenses as the company invests to drive viewership” as well as “higher employee costs and investments in planned domestic and international growth initiatives.” The company has been struggling to boost its audiences in the U.S., where the pay TV market has plateaued, and to expand overseas. Read More »
Travel Channel is embarking on its post-Anthony Bourdain life by adding four new series to its 2013 programming slate, which was unveiled today as part of Scripps Networks Interactive‘s upfront presentation today in NY. The lineup includes a new show from host Adam Richman, Adam Richman’s Fandemonium, which will premiere July 14. The other three greenlighted shows are the wilderness survival series Get Lost, the take-out food series Best Daym Takeout starring YouTube food critic Daymon Patterson, and the antique car restoration show Backroad Gold. Travel Channel also set premiere dates for Season 3 of Hotel Impossible (August 12) and Season 5 of Mysteries At The Museum (August 15).
Food Network is celebrating its 20th anniversary and along with sibling Cooking Channel will add more than 20 new series to its lineup, Scripps said today. HGTV unveiled nine new original series.
Here’s a look at the networks’ new and returning shows: Read More »
It’s not a leading economic indicator. But Scripps Networks CEO Kenneth Lowe says that programming on his cable channel HGTV “had to be turned on its head” when the housing bubble burst a few years ago. Viewers suddenly wanted to know how to flip their house, not just how to make it beautiful. But things are changing, he hopes: “As we slowly build the housing market back, it will have a positive effect on HGTV.” So will improvements at the network’s popular show House Hunters, where ratings have softened. “Stabilization is the key word” for that show, Lowe says. That concept is important for all of Scripps’ lifestyle-focused services. When it comes to advertising, “we’re not seeing a lot of things to be concerned about, but we’re watching along with the rest of the industry,” says Lori Hickok, EVP Finance. Lowe’s upbeat, though, because he says Scripps’ channels are “the female equivalent of ESPN. They’re must-have. … The passion and connection that female viewers have for these networks is second to none.” Even among those viewers, Scripps saw a shift last year to sports programming, which Lowe says “was a little unusual.” He attributes that to the growing appeal of live shows. Read More »
Shares are down 2.6% in pre-market trading following the 3Q earnings report from the owner of lifestyle channels including HGTV and the Food Network. The company said it had nearly $130M in net income, down 4.5% vs last year’s 3Q, on revenues of $503.7M, up 7.9%. Analysts expected to see $509.7M. Earnings at 65 cents a share matched the Street’s expectation — but included several one-time gains and losses. Factoring those out, the company says its continuing operations delivered 66 cents. Scripps says that its decision to produce new shows at all its networks contributed to a 25% increase in programming costs and a 33% increase in marketing and promotion expenses. Those outweighed an 8.6% gain in ad revenues, to $344M, and 6.1% improvement in affiliate fees, to $148M. As for revenues at the major channels: Food Network was +12% to $180M, HGTV was +4.1% to $181M, Travel Channel was +0.4% to $62.6M, DIY Network was +3.7% to $23.7M, Cooking Channel was +36% to $16.6M, and Great American Country was -21% to $6.1M. “Our strategy to stay focused on these attractive content categories has resulted in consistent growth for the company and the creation of significant value for our shareholders,” says CEO Kenneth Lowe.
Scripps Networks stayed on course in 2Q, which is a contrast to other cable channel owners that ended the period with mixed messages. The company generated $77.4M in net income, a drop of 27% from the period last year, which was muddied by changes related to Scripps’ acquisition of the Travel Channel and recent sale of Shopzilla, an online comparative shopping site. On an apples-to-apples basis, profits would be up 19% in the quarter, the company says. Revenues were up 12% to $534M. The earnings from continuing operations, at 78 cents a share, beat the 72 cents that analysts expected, while the revenues were on target. Scripps says that it saw improvement at all of its channels except Great American Country, where revenues fell 31% to $5.9M. With increased ad sales and fees from pay TV companies, Food Network revenues were up 8.2% to $187M, HGTV increased 8.9% to $189M, and Travel was up 15% to $70.3M. “Put it all together, and the company succeeded in delivering solid doubt-digit growth in revenue and segment profit during the second quarter and is on track for another outstanding year,” CEO Ken Lowe says.
The cable industry is livid today over a new FCC order that makes it harder for pay TV distributors to mess around with independently owned channels. Regulators clarified the rules of engagement called for by the 1992 Cable Act to resolve contract disputes that channels have with cable and satellite companies. One provision particularly infuriates cable: The FCC says channels can’t be interrupted during a fight; for example, Cablevision customers lost Food Network and HGTV in early 2010 when Scripps wanted to raise the price for its services. A standstill order would keep existing contract terms in place while the FCC resolves the matter. The agency particularly wants to prevent cable operators from using their near-monopoly power in TV distribution to favor channels that they own — or extort channel owners to sell equity in order to guarantee carriage. Public interest advocates welcome the change. “This will promote diversity in cable TV offerings by insuring that independent cable channels have a shot at getting carriage on large cable systems” says Media Access Project policy director Andrew Jay Schwartzman. But former FCC Chairman Michael Powell — now CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association — says the order shows “little regard for the limits of agency authority or constitutional rights, and a disturbing lack of appreciation of the potential impact of government intervention on consumers or the marketplace.” Read More »
Scripps Networks seemed to dash investor hopes that it might be sold when the owner of HGTV and the Food Network announced today a plan to buy back $1 billion of its stock — including $300 million from its controlling shareholder, The Edward W. Scripps Trust. Speculation about a sale grew on June 17 when the trust asked a probate court for a ruling that would have made it easier for family members to sell their shares. It would have dissolved the trust on the death of Edward W. Scripps’ last grandchild, who’s 93. Scripps’ stock price rose 5.9%, the biggest single-day jump in two years. After the company announced its stock repurchase, the share price fell 19 cents to $48.88. Scripps Networks CEO Ken Lowe says the decision “demonstrates our faith in the financial strength of our lifestyle media businesses and the company’s ability to generate strong free cash flow.”
Food Network’s Alton Brown, writer, producer and star of Good Eats, host, resident food historian, scientist and commentator on Iron Chef America, and host/judge on Next Iron Chef, has signed a new three-year deal with the network to develop new ongoing series. He will also appear as a guest star in two episodes of Food Network’s highest-rated series, Food Network Star, premiering in June, shoot a fourth season of The Next Iron Chef this spring to premiere in October and shoot Season 10 of Iron Chef America this summer. Brown will also produce and star in three one-hour themed Good Eats specials tied to Thanksgiving.