This season of Kitchen Nightmares delivered what was easily the series’ best episode, and since that aired, there has been a lot of off-camera drama thanks to owners Samy and Amy Bouzaglo—and viewers who responded strongly to what they saw. Their restaurant, Amy’s Baking Company, has received threats from the show’s producers and had a re-opening yesterday, in addition to being subjected to hacking and parody, including the mock ad below.
After the episode aired, the restaurant’s Facebook page was flooded with all-caps comments lashing out at viewers, much as they had lashed out at customers on the episode. Eater archived all the posts, which are hilarious as performance art or parody.
The restaurant’s owners later said they’d been hacked, though even that post seemed weird, because it insisted “our Facebook, YELP, Twitter and Website have been hacked.” Yelp hadn’t been hacked, it had just been flooded with negative comments (though Yelp’s policy is to delete those if they’re from non-patrons) just like their Facebook page.
Earlier, the server who quit during the episode did an AMA on Reddit and insisted what was on TV was 100% real and confirmed she’d received hourly pay of $8/hour, higher than a typical server. But several people pointed out this Department of Labor guideline that says employers are “prohibited from using an employee’s tips for any reason other than as a credit against its minimum wage obligation to the employee.” She also revealed that Gordon Ramsay left a $20 tip.
Meanwhile, Samy, whose full name is Salomon Buozaglo, may be deported; The Arizona Republic reports that he “is involved in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement case to revoke his residency status, his lawyer said Tuesday. Scottsdale immigration lawyer David Asser said the case against his client started two years ago and was the subject of a removal hearing Monday.” It is apparently unrelated to the TV show.
As a result of the negative publicity from the show, the restaurant planned a Tuesday night relaunch, for which they hired new employees who hadn’t watched the show. They promised “a portion of proceeds will benefit a charity organized to bring awareness to cyber bullying” and insisted, “Customers will be able to decide who is correct: a famous celebrity chef or the marketplace that has supported the small, locally-owned business for six years.”
But despite saying they had 1500 reservations, only “a thin crowd” showed up.
A representative for Amy and Samy announced the grand opening in a press release, and in it, Samy said, “We are very upset by what has taken place, apologize about the acrimony that has ensued but now must fight back to save our business. We hope and believe much good can result from what has transpired. We ask the public to keep an open mind as we begin to tell our side of the story.”
“If you disparage the show, its host, or its producers, you will breach your obligations under Paragraph 10 of your Personal Release and Paragraph 14 of your Participant Agreement. These agreements prohibit you from speaking publicly about Kitchen Nightmares, other than to acknowledge ‘the mere fact of your participation in the Series in personal publicity relating to yourself.’ Your conduct exposes each of you to liability for liquidated damages of $100,000.”
Of all the stupidity that has transpired during and since the production of the episode, that has got to be the stupidest. Threatening them and essentially preventing them from talking accomplishes nothing except making it seem like Samy and Amy have valid claims about how the show misrepresented them and/or their restaurant, making them look stupid.
Amy’s Baking Company was doing just fine doing that on their own.
The X Factor has new judges: Destiny’s Child’s Kelly Rowland, who also judged on the UK version of the show, and Paulina Rubio, a Latin pop star. Their addition probably brings more credibility than its panel last year, but probably doesn’t change the fact that it’s a giant, unwatchable mess.
Why was Bret Michaels missing in action on The Celebrity Apprentice’s finale? His time on the show didn’t exactly leave him looking good, but Bret tweeted that he was absent because of previous commitments: “Unfortunately I won’t be able 2 attend tonight’s #celebapprentice finale due 2 a private event & my daughter’s b-day.” He also wished Penn and Trace good luck.
NBC will air a scripted series, Siberia, that’s about contestants in a competition series who have to “band together in an effort to survive” injuries and “strange occurrences.” In a press release, NBC executive Jeff Bader said, “We believe a scripted series that offers an insightful behind-the-scenes view of how a reality concept comes together — especially when things don’t go according to plan — will connect with our audience in a very satisfying way.” Hopefully it’s more insightful than The Office’s weak, scripted look behind-the-scenes of a reality series.
The Real Housewives of New York City cast members held up production over new contracts, but Deadline reports they “took the modest pay increases Bravo was offering for season 6 rather than continue to hold out for big raises” and Bravo “also threw in a few more contractual baubles like covering expenses for additional hair and make-up for the cast..”
Want some one-on-one time with an executive at a production company or other people in the entertainment industry? Bid on several opportunities by Tuesday afternoon, including Shed Media’s US GM Pamela Healey, Fremantle North America SVP of Nonfiction Development, Alex Demyanenko in LA, producer Basketball Wives Troy DeVolld, and Bob Barker (yes, from The Price is Right). Proceeds will benefit the Caucus Foundation, which says it is “helping to launch the professional careers of student filmmakers (television, film and interactive) from groups currently underrepresented in the industry.”
America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon said that American Idol’s producers and network “feed into” the drama between his wife Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj; he also said that Mariah predicted the panel wouldn’t work.
The first-ever all-star Celebrity Apprentice concluded with Donald Trump breaking from tradition and selecting the finalist seated to his right, Trace Adkins, as the winner of the $250,000 prize, which goes to his charity, the American Red Cross.
Overall, Adkins raised $1,554,072 for American Red Cross, while Penn Jillette raised $698,655 for Opportunity Village, according to NBC. Jillette’s total for his charity, which helps people with intellectual disabilities get jobs, included $100,000 for having the best-selling Walgreens ice cream. As a reality TV character and contestant, I liked Penn better, and wish he’d won, but Trace made a compelling argument for why he should win, not that Donald Trump has ever used evidence in his decision-making.
Overall, the celebrities raised $3.332 million for charity, some of which came from the show and its sponsors. Trump also gave Lil Jon $100,000 for the American Diabetes Association, apparently as a way to make up for firing him for no actual reason.
But the celebrities also dragged down the show. The money raised for charity is the high point in a season that really sucked the life out of the franchise by retreading familiar ground and giving us nothing new in its returning celebrities, who we already knew and/or were really sick of. Its ratings recovered, but NBC didn’t give it a vote of confidence by saying a renewal decision would come in the future.
I think the format still has the potential to recover, if the show can find the right cast, and also pull back a little: for starters, the live spectacle finale is pointless, because Donald Trump is no Jeff Probst, and also the show no longer justifies a live finale. I’d rather have more standard discussion and decision-making at the end of an episode rather than hear the live audience make noise.
The show needs a bold shake-up, and I’d start with replacing Donald Trump with Ivanka. He’s a complete asshole who alienates viewers. She’s much smarter, more engaging, and a better judge, one who can get past the bullshit and really weigh evidence.
Trump could still make appearances and pretend it’s his show, but it never will be the show it once was (and still is in his mind), because his shtick is tired.
Here’s the fascinating thing: Despite Trump’s irrationality, the show remains an authentic competition, just one that literally has no rules. Penn Jillette told Hitfix that the show is “capricious and arbitrary but all that is out front,” and insisted “Every other reality show I’d ever done, and I’d done a bunch of ‘em, were deeply dishonest. And The Celebrity Apprentice isn’t. Everything is straightforward. They don’t even redo things. You know, on every other reality show they say, say that same thing but over here. They don’t do that.”
The world needs more authentic series, and again, the format has a lot of life left in it. It just needs to fire the right person.
They played a version of Family Feud (during which the Swamp People cast members demonstrated some remarkable Kardashian knowledge) and told stories about the show’s origin. They’re not exactly new to doing media or interviews, and are obviously confortable in front of cameras, but still, they’re funny and charming and comfortable with being themselves, and that works.
Later on the episode, some blowhard talked for a few minutes about why rural reality shows are popular right now:
The Celebrity Apprentice’s sixth season concludes Sunday, and it may be easy to tell who which of the final two celebrities will win the prize for their charity: that’s because Donald Trump has always chosen the celebrity sitting on his left as the show’s winner.
Maybe because that’s how Trump remembers who he’s supposed to choose? It’s possible this could just be a five-time coincidence, but if Trump does pick the person on the left Sunday night, that will be crazy/predictable.
The final two are Trace Adkins and Penn Jillette; both are strong finalists, and not just because they’re not grating and annoying like some of their competitors. As more than one person pointed out this season, Trace kind of checked out and sleepwalked through part of it, so I’d rather see Penn win, and not just because he dished great dirt on Trump and the production.
News that Top Chefreceived $200,000 from the oil spill fund the Deepwater Horizon disaster has prompted controversy and a debate of sorts between Bravo VP Andy Cohen, chef Anthony Bourdain, and TV auteur David Simon.
“The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation is giving $175,000 to invest in bringing Top Chef to New Orleans. Our investment came from our normal budget, which we planned for, not BP dollars. The BP dollars we have received are being used for our summer online advertising campaign, per our grant request for those funds.”
While that may be accurate, Bravo’s use of it as a defense is utter bullshit, though very clever. That’s because no one is talking about the $175,000 the city paid; the original newspaper report about the funding said it was “$200,000 from the Louisiana Office of Tourism, $175,000 from the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp” and noted that “The state’s Top Chef contribution will come from a recovery fund established by BP after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.”
So, again, the controversy has always been about the state’s $200,000 contribution, which Bravo’s blog post ignores. Earlier this week, Anthony Bourdain suggested Bravo give back the $200,000 and offered a charity that’d be worthy of the money. Bourdain added, “My point was not that taking $$ was ‘wrong’ but that given circumstances and perception, a give-back would be a nice gesture.”
Andy Cohen’s response/defense said the money is designated for tourism, and then referenced “Treme’s tax credits from NOLA.” Bourdain was a writer on Treme, and that comment earned the attention of David Simon, the creator of the HBO series Treme (and other shows, such as The Wire), who received an e.mail from Bourdain about it.
“I can’t be entirely indifferent to the shitty-ass, reach-around snark of some fellow who rushes to throw under the bus people about whom he has no knowledge whatsoever — and does so to gain a dishonest point in a fucking tweet war.”
Simon wrote, “I really don’t care what ‘Top Chef’ or Bravo does or doesn’t do,” but pointed out that HBO gave money to “to underwrite a long-term campaign by Treme to raise money for a series of 501c3 charities in New Orleans” that eventually raised more than $500,000.” And he disputed Andy Cohen’s point that there was any parallel:
“Mr. Cohen was not content to argue the merits or flaws of Mr. Bourdain’s point, or, for that matter, the merits or flaws of taking the funds in the first place. Instead, Mr. Cohen rushes to drag the Treme production into his defense, citing, in apples-to-oranges fashion, the fact that we have availed ourselves of the same Louisiana tax incentives that are standardized to every film production in that state.
For Mr. Cohen to flippantly imply that because HBO failed somehow to refuse the same tax rates that Louisiana offers to every production, we are in the same boat as ‘Top Chef’ and its extended negotiations for a BP payout is just, well, horseshit. Snide works well and seems plausible in 140-character morsels. When laid out in detail, it’s something altogether different. Sorry, but if Mr. Cohen is any kind of mensch and thinks about it for a little longer than it takes to type the first thing on his mind, he’ll see that an apology is owed.”
Andy’s only reply so far: “congratulations. we all love NOLA & want to bring as much business, tourism & attention to the city,chefs & gulf seafood.”
Alas, he seems to have forgotten about the business and attention he wants to bring to Bravo.
The Voice will keep all six of its judges next year, including Usher and Shakira, who have been the subject of reports in recent days suggesting they’re leaving. Instead, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton will be on both seasons, while CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera will appear in the fall with Usher and Shakira replacing them in the spring, just like this year. EW reported the news, noting that “NBC is finalizing deals with Shakira and Usher,” meaning it’s not 100 percent locked in yet.
Usher and Shakira have been remarkable additions to the show: the panel’s chemistry has been as strong as its initial panel, and arguably even stronger, depending upon your feelings about Christina. (Compare that to American Idol, which has just stuck people with names at the judges’ table and hoped it would work, and it just hasn’t, even when there are strong individuals.)
While, as EW points out, some have argued that Usher and Shakira should be permanent judges, I agree that it’s smart to keep the configuration the same. NBC took a big risk airing two seasons a year. Last fall, I was a little tired of the show and format, since a season with the same judges had just concluded a few months earlier. Switching between two sets of judges with similarly strong but still different chemistry makes it seem less like one endless, year-long season and instead gives us something to look forward to.
Update, 17 May 2013: NBC confirmed this today, meaning deals have been done for all four judges. NBC entertainment chair Bob Greenblatt said in a press release statement, “We’re very fortunate to have these six incredible artists to weave in and out of the show as their performing and recording schedules permit. The show has taken off largely due to the rapport and commitment of these great coaches, in addition to the expert hosting of Carson Daly.”
In the aftermath of the Survivor Caramaon reunion drama, with the eight pre-merge contestants being excluded, there’s been a lot of conversation about whether that improved or weakened the reunion. Jeff Probst was defensive in his explanation, offering a weak excuse and saying their goal is “to produce the best reunion show we can.”
While excluding almost half the cast is a dramatic shift, the reunion hasn’t been at its best in years. What Jeff Probst is interested in talking about or focusing on is increasingly not what I care about.
In the early days of Survivor, the show didn’t use its own host as host of its reunions. Bryant Gumbel hosted the first three, back when the show was a ratings and pop culture phenomenon, and although he probably brought a bit of credibility, he lacked passion and, you know, knowledge. Rosie O’Donnell hosted the fourth season’s reunion, and it’s there the show discovered the value in having someone who cares about the show ask questions of the fans.
Over the early years, Jeff Probst became more of a proxy for viewers during Tribal Councils, asking the obvious but unspoken questions that we were shouting from our couches. Eventually, though, that shifted, either because of the players’ savvy or Probst’s increasing desperation, grandstanding, and ego.
That’s spilled over into the reunions, where Probst often all but ignores the winner, especially if the winner has a vagina, to focus on things he’s interested in, even if they aren’t really the things I care about as a viewer.
I want to know more about the season I just watched. I want to know more about the winner’s strategy from day one. I want to know about hidden alliances. I want unfiltered, unedited, straight-from-their-mouths comments, good and bad. I want to know how the game affected them in real life. I want to know what they thought of their edit, or of the challenges, or of Probst being a dick to them, unless they are an alpha male, in which case they can talk about what it’s like to be Probst’s bro.
Of course, maybe most viewers don’t care about these things and I’m alone. At the very least, it feels like the reunion is focusing more and more on time-wasting bullshit. And while there’s no need to give everyone equal time—with all due respect to the lovely cast members, I don’t really give a shit if they’re moving in with each other, or got new shoes or whatever—there should be a better use of time than talking to a kid in the audience and pimping Boston Rob’s self-published book. It’s one thing to ask Rob about Phillip’s strategy and annoying behavior; another to give him a platform to grandstand.
The reunion’s increasing pointlessness was highlighted today when CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler revealed during CBS’ upfront presentation that the new season will feature “the return of great characters and their relatives.”
The reunion teased season 27, and I can see the value of teasing it and milking the reveal for months, even if we’ve known the twist for more than a month. But if they were going to tell the media less than three days later, why not, after revealing its (ridiculous) name, Survivor Blood vs. Water, have Probst spend a few seconds talking about the twist, perhaps explaining why they decided to do this? Or elaborate on his rationale for relying on returnees?
Probst may have his own Twitter account, talk show, and lifeline to EW, but the reunion is by far the biggest platform of the year in part because it reaches all viewers, not just the fraction of viewers who are superfans and think they’re the only people who watch. So it’s a real opportunity to explain and offer insight. That’s what would make the best reunion show, and Probst and company can easily deliver that if they want to.
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