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He's No Chicken, He's Just Busy, Busy-Bam!

January 17, 2005 12:00 AM

Food Network last Sunday was set to premiere "Iron Chef America," the domestic version of its long-running Japanese import where chefs compete head-to-head to create culinary masterpieces against a ticking clock. Food Network celebrities such as Wolfgang Puck and Mario Batali are scheduled to compete, but don't expect the channel's signature chef Emeril Lagasse to step into Kitchen Stadium anytime soon. "We've asked, but he declined," a source said. A Food Network spokesman confirmed that Mr. Lagasse will not duel on the show, but denied the chef was worried about getting-Bam!-kicked down a notch. "It wasn't a matter of him wanting to do it; it was more of a scheduling issue," the spokesman said.

-JAMES HIBBERD



No Guarantee

So far this season, Dennis Haysbert has not appeared on Fox's hit action series "24" as President David Palmer. He has been replaced as the president on the show by Geoff Pierson, who plays President John Keeler. Mr. Haysbert may be back in a recurring role later in the year, but so far there is no deal, according to a Fox spokesman. In the meantime, Mr. Haysbert will show up on commercials on the show and on the show's Web site, by virtue of a deal between Fox and Allstate Insurance, which has been using Mr. Haysbert as spokesman for the past year. Later this season, Allstate's ad agency Leo Burnett Co., Chicago, will create mini-movies and special content focusing on how Allstate fights fraud, which will appear on the "24" Web site. As far as we know, that insurance will not cover Kiefer Sutherland's Agent Jack Bauer, who has survived everything from plane crashes to atomic radiation. For Agent Bauer, the only survival insurance continues to be strong ratings.

-WAYNE FRIEDMAN



Next Wave

What would you do if the name of your new business suddenly were linked to one of the biggest tragedies in history? In the case of Tsunami Productions of Parkton, Md., which is attending NATPE next week for the first time, the answer is nothing. So far, there's been no negative reaction to the name, according to Me-lissa Mc-Comas, a marketing guru with retail connections, who founded the company. People tell her: "Now we'll know how to pronounce the name of your company," she said. Tsunami produces shows that get sponsorship-or have product placements-from marketers the firm has relationships with. At NATPE she'll be pushing two new weekly shows-"Beauty Behavior," a makeover show for "real people," and "H.I. 101," where regular guys take on home improvement projects. Ms. McComas said she named the business "Tsunami" because it signified a "surge and motion and movement" and is considering giving some of her proceeds to the tsunami relief efforts.

-JON LAFAYETTE