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Gotta give Food Network credit for being loyal

Has anyone noticed how few people ever actually leave the Food Network? From management to hosts, it seems here's very little turnover compared with TV networks in general.

It's true that some chefs have graduated to other things (usually to more fame), but their overall roster has retained many whose initial stardom seemingly peaked a while back... Irvine, Cora, Summers? Even Ming Tsai comes back for many cameo roles. Meanwhile Flay has been on 15 different shows (according to Wikipedia). I'm not even sure which shows Tyler F., Alton, Ted Allen, Alex G. and others are most associated with these days..

I'm not complaining. In fact I think it's unusually refreshing that a modern network keeps re-investing in core people they seem to click with. Think of how many networks made billions from folks like Cosby/Seinfeld/etc., and promptly abandoned the people/shows when the ratings became average.

Like the talent or not, does it seem like "The Firm?" Ha ha. But really, I work in other parts of the media industry and there's usually an entirely new staff at most places every few years. FN seems to provide a lot of second, third and more chances.

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  1. I am sure you'll get a ton of posters hating on the Food Network and saying the chefs you mentioned (Flay especially) are in some way sell-outs. But I agree with you. I like that there are familiar faces on new shows, and whether they are hosting, judging, or cooking, people like Flay and Alton Brown definitely lend some credibility to new shows. To me.

    1. They could use some turnover.

      1. What "management" has stayed on board for an inordinate amount of time, and is that time exceptional in the world of TV production for a network like FoodTV?

        2 Replies
        1. re: tommy

          Never said "inordinate" but Tuschman's been there since 98. Fogelson has been there for 12 years. Is that exceptional? I'm guessing yes in terms of the TV industry, though there are certainly other execs who've been at their respective brands for years. But usually it's an industry with a lot of movement.

          1. re: tastyjon

            I guess you have to give them credit then. More companies should reward success.

            Still not sure if it's exceptional for a successful, growing company with feet in many waters. Not sure it's worth guessing about, either. I sure would be surprised to hear that other companies in similar situations are letting go of people in those positions. Of course, many successful people move on from successful companies, but the fact that these folks haven't doesn't necessarily speak to the Food Network's loyalty. Could be totally unrelated, in fact.

        2. THey had a major housecleaning a few years back when they didn't renew Emeril and Mario and a few others.

          Yet they cling to people like Aron Sanchez and keep building shows around this man trying to get something to stick.

          1. There were some early shows/hosts on Food Network that seemed to disappear but then, here in Canada we stopped getting the US version when they introduced FN Canada. Shows that come to mind:

            Two Hot Tamales
            Caprial's Cafe
            Three Dog Bakery

            Are these still around in the US?

            10 Replies
            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              None.

              You bring up a good point. The early days of FN there was a great deal of diversity. Then not so much they narrowed down their ‘Talent’ to only a handful of people. And kept reusing them over and over at one point Rachel Ray had three different shows on.

              Now any new talent has to more or less sign their soul away to FN contract wise. Which explain why FN would want to use and reuse the same people over and over again.

              1. re: Withnail42

                What are the details of these contracts?

                1. re: tommy

                  I imagine that the early contracts for Emeril and Bobby were blank checks and vague. I remember reading about Vern Yip's contract at TLC for Trading Spaces didn't specify the number of episodes he needed to be in, so he got to pick and choose how many times he appeared.

                  Bobby has started producing shows. He produced that Alex's Day Off show, which was beyond boring.

                  I miss the baking shows like Gale Gand. I was happy that they brought in a baking show (Dessert First). Anne Thornton is watchable. I've only made one of her recipes (fudge) and it was just okay, nothing special that I'll make again.

                  I'm just happy to see someone making dessert again.

                  1. re: tommy

                    From what I understand is that FN essentially locks a person down contract wise they get a piece of everything they do. This is why they develop and keep their 'talent'. They can pay them nothing and still get a cut of the action. They can't do that with people who are already established. But that doesn't stop them from trying. I know of a case where FN was negotiating with a prospective 'personality' who already had done a TV show and written a couple of books. FN wanted a percentage of the profits from the previous show and all sales of the books since publication, several years earlier.

                    1. re: Withnail42

                      It comes down to bargaining power. As a fledgling network they couldn't demand as much of their stars. Now they have strong, almost monopolistic power in the area of cooking TV, and can demand more. They are a business, and seek the best deals for their investors.

                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                  Caprial Pence and her husband have a show on public television here in the US.

                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                    I live in montreal and Im pretty sure (?) I get the US version... it just says food network and I get it with videotron.

                    1. re: kpaxonite

                      Here's the link to the FN Canada website kpaxonite. If those annoying Podleski sisters are on right now, it's the Canadian version. If not, lucky you!! ; - )

                      http://www.foodnetwork.ca/ontv/index....

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        Glutton for Punishment is on right now for me....I guess I'm lucky :) well not that lucky......but still

                        edit actually looking at the schedule maybe not (you posted just after 7:30...

                        1. re: kpaxonite

                          Looks like you have Food tv Cda kpaxonite. Still lucky that you missed the Podleski's though!! ; - )

                  2. On the one hand, it's a specialized gig: where else would Cat Cora or Robert Irvine or most of the "talent" go? Why would they leave, unless they hit the big time with their own restaurants or branding. As for management, how much of the staff you never see or even know about stays on. In the past, major successful shows (Carson, etc) have had long-lasting producers and program managers--if they're successful. Why wouldn't the networks abandon talent and cancel shows when ratings plummeted--that's the nature of the industry.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: bob96

                      FN invested heavily in giving them name and face recognition, so therefore the chef is used in all of their multi-personality shows like "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." And in return for being a team-player, the chef continues to be invited.

                      Edited to add:
                      >where else would Cat Cora or Robert Irvine or most of the "talent" go?

                      I was wondering that, too. Besides PBS, there aren't many networks that are heavy on "cooking" content. Cooking Channel is owned by Food Network. I suppose Bravo (owned by NBC) - they already have 6 or 7 foodie shows.

                      1. re: GraydonCarter

                        I don't know about Irvine, but FN is hardly a full time job for Cora. Many FN personalities have restaurants or jobs outside of TV. The TV appearances may be more valuable as a form of PR than as a direct income.

                        1. re: paulj

                          FN put Cora on the national maps. She was working full time prior of TV. Irvine has a sketchy past at best. He was really nothing before FN. If anything I don't know too many outlets that would have brought him back after his 'activities'.

                          1. re: Withnail42

                            I was a loyal viewer but haven't watched him since. FN must have bet that we'd have short memories, and the face/name recognition investment would still pay off.

                    2. Great question. I have noticed a number of new shows are now produced by (your term) "The Firm" in the past year, and with the addition of FN's new channel Cooking Channel the powers that be seem to have a host of new material (at least new for American audiences) to offer creating a secondary company in the process.

                      And, since I'm a behind the scene-er kinda gal myself I wonder how many people working behind a camera, in the office, on the phones, in the field have kept their jobs over the years that this elite group of tv chefs have and how loyal FN/Scripps are to those folks. For instance, I am aware (since friends have been hired) that BFlays Throwdown grabbed paid interns from the New School for the scouting and grunt work.

                      1. What proportion of the FN shows are produced inhouse v. outside production companies?

                        Gordon Elliot and Marc Summers moved from being FN hosts to producing their own shows - including some of the big name talent on FN (e.g. Paula). Good Eats has been Alton's own project from the beginning. DDD is an outside job; Outrageous Food comes from the same group. Even the most popular current show (judging from Chow interest), NFNS is an outside job. People who previously had nothing to do with food shows are discovering food competitions (e.g. Extreme Chef).

                        1. Absolute BS in my opinion. They are simply cross marketing their assets and whoever chooses to participate makes more money. There's no loyalty, just cash checking and fist pounding.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Bellachefa

                            Bellachef, my hubby agrees with you. At this point he feels FN is a frat house with the earliest alumn cashing the biggest checks. He doesn't feel that the new shows have anything to do with loyalty.