Food Dishes Out New Reality Fare

Food Network will serve up several new reality shows — including a cooking show featuring rock musicians Dweezil Zappa and Lisa Loeb — as part of its fall original programming schedule.

The Scripps Networks service, which averaged a 0.6 household primetime rating during March and first-quarter 2003, will increase its overall programming budget by 58 percent to cover the debut of 12 new series and 60 specials, according to network executives.

Among the reality series are Dweezil & Lisa,
which will bow in first-quarter 2004 and feature the cooking experiences of Zappa and pop singer Loeb; Jamie's Kitchen, in which Food personality Jamie Oliver trains unemployed kids to run a restaurant (bowing in October); and Into the Fire, a behind-the-scenes look at restaurant life (set for fall).

The shows will join the previously announced reality series Date Plate, which pits two single contestants against each other in a cook-off to woo a member of the opposite sex; and Food Fight, in which groups from different walks of life combine to participate in a cooking contest, to win prizes. The former premiered last month, while the latter launches in April.

Other new original shows on the network's menu include the spring and summer premieres of food/lifestyle shows Boy Meets Grill
and Roker on the Road;
Trivia Unwrapped,
a questions-and-answers show that tests pop culture food knowledge; How To Boil Water, a how-to cooking show; Lighten Up!
a lighthearted look at recipe renovations; and Cookworks,
focusing on the inner workings of a cooking school.

In the fourth quarter or later, Food may also unveil Mario in America, based on the American travels of Italian chef Mario Batali; and What America Eats, an examination of the dining habits of people around the U.S.

The network will also create specials around several of its signature series, including a backstage look at the launch of a new restaurant by network personality Emeril Lagasse on April 20. A five-week King of Iron Chef Tournament
— a takeoff on the network's popular Iron Chef
series — began April 5.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.