24 April 2012

SNL Kagan


Steady as she goes could have been the unofficial slogan of Scripps Networks Interactive Inc.'s 2012 upfront event at the historic Foxwoods theater in Midtown Manhattan, N.Y.
Heads of Scripps' cable channels such as Food Network, Travel Channel and DIY Network did not promote new shows as much as they reminded the media buyers in the audience that these networks are dependable destinations for viewers.
Travel Channel President Laureen Ong did show clips of some new shows, however, such as reality show "Miami International Airport," a look behind auctions of lost baggage called "Baggage Battles," and a hotel makeover show called "Hotel Impossible."
Travel Channel also announced a slate of seven new series for this summer as part of its "Destination Summer" programming package.
They are "Mega Mansions," a look at some of the most iconic mansions, including a Hearst Castle vault; the self-evident "Xtreme Waterparks"; "All You Can Meat," about the best slabs of meat in the country; "Insane Coaster Wars," where experts and viewers voting online will be able to vote for the best roller coaster; "RV Kings," about a team that transforms RVs into dream machines; "Suite Choice," about finding the perfect vacation; and "American Originals," about companies, innovators and festivals that are uniquely American.
"This is why Travel Channel is going to move you," Ong said. Most of the shows are premiering in July, with "All You Can Meat" coming out in mid-August.
Last year's upfront had more big stars attending the event, such as chef Bobby Flay.
This year, Scripps had Food Network's Alton Brown, Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmern and actor Bronson Pinchot, who has a remodeling show on DIY Network called "The Bronson Pinchot Project."
During the upfront, Zimmern, star of "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern," came on stage with a durian, a smelly Asian fruit with a prickly exterior. He was not turned off by the durian, but he confessed that he could not stand walnuts.
"I cannot be near a walnut," he told Ong as they hammed it up on stage. "Deal killer, walnuts."
Food Network and Cooking Channel President Brooke Johnson also elicited laughs after she did an impromptu tap dance on stage, following a musical clip about the channels.
The two channels announced in March that they were introducing 22 new series and bringing back 35 shows.
For the Cooking Channel, one eyebrow-raising new show is called "The Culinary Adventures of Baron Ambrosia." The star, who dubs himself the "Culinary Ambassador to the Bronx," drives around in a convertible with a chandelier hanging from a rod, his eccentric manners in full display as he discovers culinary delights in less-traveled cities.
Another new show features the hilarious Mo Rocca of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" fame in "My Grandmother's Ravioli." The comedian does not know how to cook so he sets out to learn from America's grandmothers and grandfathers. For the Food Network, new shows include "Invention Hunters," in which two scouts look for the next great kitchen invention; "Mystery Diners," which exposes bad restaurant employee habits with hidden cameras; and "Blind Dinner Party," a series headlined by comedian Margaret Cho in which seven strangers from different backgrounds, beliefs and views come together to dine.
At the event, Johnson touted Food Network's position in the top 10 most watched cable channels in the country for the past three years.
Viewers "trust our expertise and they trust our authenticity," she said. "The expertise comes from our talent, the biggest food stars in the world and from the 30-plus chefs in our own Food Network kitchens. Our authenticity, I think, comes from knowing who we are: smart, creative, fun, informational, inspirational, family-friendly, a powerful, dare I say it, a beloved brand."


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