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Bam! Lagasse Spreads His Wings

March 4, 2008 12:15 PM

Chef Emeril Lagasse, long a staple of the Food Network, is extending his reach. Last year Food Network said it was suspending production of “Emeril Live,” but continuing to work with the chef and restaurant owner and renewing “The Essence of Emeril.”

That didn’t sound like good news. Late last month, Lagasse signed a $50 million deal, which could grow to $70 million if certain terms are met, with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. That means Stewart’s company will have the rights to his television shows, Web site, cookbooks and other products sold under his name. The deal does not include his stable of restaurants.

At the time, executives from Food lauded the Lagasse/Stewart deal, saying it was a win-win situation.

But is it? I don’t think so. Sure, Food still has Lagasse, but he soon will start appearing on another cable network.

Come this summer, Lagasse will have a new show on Discovery’s eco-friendly Planet Green, the new moniker for Discovery Home.

Planet Green, in conjunction with Whole Foods, will give Lagasse a nightly show that will be shot on location at the Whole Foods store in the nation’s capital. The chef will do a show using products right from the shelves and aisles of Whole Foods.

That’s an ingenious marketing ploy, and I applaud Discovery, which morphs Discovery Home into Planet Green this summer, for its creativity in grabbing a big name for the channel’s launch.

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Comments (6)

Andy S.:

Sounds like you're asking where the line of overexposure is. At what point does the Emeril brand begin to cannibalize itself? Now that he's with the company that brought us way too much Martha, we should find that out in short order. It's interesting, though, that the Food Network apparently had already concluded that he was overexposed when they took one of his shows off the air.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Andy,

I'm not asking that question at all. I'm wondering what is going on at the Food Network. Just yesterday, it cut Robert Irvine, host of "Dinner: Impossible" loose. And for good reasons, he cooked his resume by admitting that he never cooked for several U.S. presidents, etc.

Why didn't Food know that and vet him out when he was hired? Food is also still honoring his present production deal, and I think they had grounds to just get rid of him.

But back to Emeril. I'm more interested in what Discovery is doing with him than Martha Stewart. The deal with Whole Foods is fascinating. That's the win-win here.

Thanks for the post,
Marianne

Arthur Greenwald:

Actually you left out a new Emeril venue: Feeemantle is distributing the existing Essence of Emeril shows via broadcast syndication.

Even so, I don't think Emeril is remotely overexposed, especially compared to his new business partner Martha Stewart.

The Food Network cut Emeril Live not due to overexposure but for budgetary reasons — Emeril's been their most expensive production for years. Not surprising since he was the first of the TV chefs to be represented by an agency (William Morris.) What changed was that Food Channel finally achieved a loyal enough audience for its other shows that they could afford to wean themselves off their Emeril dependency.

The William Morris connection may be why Emeril's exposure is much smarter than some of his counterparts. While Rachel Ray appears on Triscuit boxes, Emeril has his own (non Food Network) branded line of cookware, sausage, fresh produce (!) -- all in addition to his signature restaurants.

Marianne Paskowski:

Arthur,

Thanks for filling in some of the gaps here as we cook along and noodle on these latest Emeril deals. However, I don't think any of the chefs, including Rachel Ray will ever attain Emeril's success.

Rachel is so annoying and grating on the ears, let alone the palate. Food Network went for the cheap and they got it. Sure she has her cookbooks. I bought one, what a waste of money.

By contrast, I long ago bought an Emeril holiday cookbook, took me 12 hours to make a Christmas dinner, but what a wow meal that was, unlike Rachel's quickies.

Still think Emeril will do great at Discovery.

Thanks for the post,

Marianne

John Golden:

Don't be too hard on Rachel, she may not be the chef Emeril is, but then again who is. She is however, much easier to look at (at least for males).

I had heard that the Emeril-Martha deal was to pump some badly needed cash into his New Orleans restaurant.

As for Food Network shows my favorite has always been "Good Eats".

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi John,
Nice to hear from you again, it's been awhile. Gee, I thought you would say your favorite Food net show was "Iron Chef." Guys seem to like it, if it's even still on, I don't know.

Given what happened in New Orleans, I'm sure Emeril could use the cash for his restaurants, he has two, the original Emeril's and I think Nolas, anyhow, I've been to them both.

I think his new show on Planet Green, in conjunction with Whole Foods is going to be a winner. Andy, above, thinks Emeril is overexposed. I think Rachel is over exposed. But to each his own.

Thanks for the post,
Marianne

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