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In the television business, you are where you eat as much as you are what you eat.

TelevisionWeek Managing Editor Melissa Grego is tapping into Hollywood's penchant for the working meal with her TVWeek.com feature, Mel's Diner. Ms. Grego sits down with television industry players at their favorite restaurants, giving readers a window into the minds -- and appetites -- of industry heavyweights.

As each Mel's Diner guest dishes about what they're working on, planning and thinking about, Ms. Grego provides a unique view of the television business from the insiders perspective.

TVWeek.com invites fans of Mel's Diner to report back in the comments section on the meals, deals, or anything at all that is eating them about what the featured players have to say.

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Mel's Diner



Mel’s Diner: Lauren Corrao

June 8, 2007 1:03 PM

Who: Lauren Corrao, executive VP, original programming and development, Comedy Central
When: Wednesday, May 16, lunch
Where: Bistro 45, Pasadena

24MelsDinerLaurenCorrao.jpg

The Dish: It was never more apparent to Lauren Corrao than the day we had lunch that nobody’s doing comedy. At least not on the broadcast networks, she said.

It was the middle of the upfronts week, when the biggest networks reveal their fall schedules for advertisers in New York. The lineups included few new humorous offerings.

That’s actually pretty okay with Lauren. She loves “being able to do comedy when no one else is— and do it well,” she said.

As we dined, about eight new Comedy Central pilots were under way, with the casting process going on for one, director searches on others, one due to shoot in New York the following Monday, and the rest rolling between now and August.

The network could have “as few as two going to series, or as many as five,” Lauren said. She officially announced her development slate on May 29.

She gets shows, projects and ideas from all sorts of sources. For one thing, she believes in finding talent in the sea of amateur and short-form video circulating in new media platforms. For example, upcoming series “Lil Bush,” slated to premiere on Comedy Central on June 13, started on Amp’d Mobile.

The network’s staff always has an eye out for the next “Lil Bush.” Each week people at the network on both coasts submit videos that go up on a site Lauren checks out over the weekend. Not that she’s not looking and laughing at that sort of thing all the time.

The day we had lunch she was completely amused by a video her assistant and Comedy Central GM Michele Ganeless had each sent to her that morning. It depicts an unfortunate collision between a break dancer and a child spectator.

“It’s not the twistedness of the child getting kicked” that made her laugh, she said. “But the surprise of it.”

That’s her sense of humor. She likes the unexpected.

“I do enjoy humor and love to be surprised. That’s probably the reason I’m more suited to cable,” said the executive, who has worked at MTV and Fox and as a producer. “Broadcast tends to be more predictable because they’re trying to appeal to a mass audience.”

Dined On: Lauren said she comes to Bistro 45 all the time. It’s an elegant spot in a deco building in Pasadena and has developed a reputation as being one of the best restaurants in town. They offer an extensive wine list, wine dinners and truly wonderful food. It’s a little expensive, but I found you get what you pay for.

She has lived in Pasadena for eight years now, and quickly became friends with the owner, Robert Simon, and his wife. Lauren, who has a 13-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son, met Robert at her daughter’s school.

“I got into wine largely coming to this restaurant,” she said. She now keeps a stash of what she calls “the good stuff” both at home and the Comedy Central Stage.

At lunch, Lauren and Robert thought it would be good to order just a half bottle to share among her, Comedy Central PR guru Jenni Runyan and me.

24MelsDinerLaurenCorrao2.jpg

It was French, a chardonnay, and I honestly can’t tell you much more about what I ate and drank. But I loved the cauliflower soup, my monkfish entrée and chocolate dessert. Lauren and Jenni both started with a salad laden with burata cheese that they reported was good, good, good.

We shall blame my lack of additional fooddetailsontheimbibing. I rarely drink anything but water or iced tea at lunch. Or ever. Some so-called friends nicknamed me Half-Can Jan. (I swear, though: I took my time with the dessert, so no one was in danger when I hit the road back to the office).

Lauren said we Americans have something to learn from the Europeans about the whole drink-at-lunch, work-to-live idea. The British, too. (She worked in London for a year.)

“At lunch there, you go to pubs and people down two pints, sometimes two bottles of wine,” she said. “I’d get back from lunch and have to put my head down and sleep for an hour.”

On the Books: here!’s Paul Colichman

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Comments (4)

Vanessa Reyes Smith:

I love reading this feature and finding new and delicious spots all over the city...

v.

Lesta:

Holy schnikee does that girl get the boot! Before my wife and I had our daughter, I'd be rolling on the ground laughing but now I just chuckle when seeing stuff like that - appreciating the humor but in the back of my head thinking, "Thank gawd that wasn't my daughter!"
(For the record, I do hope she wasn't hurt.)

Thanks, V!

Lesta, I hear you, buddy. Let's definitely hope that child is OK. It really would be just horrifying. ... Still, I admit I somehow could not stop watching that video when I got it.

Melissa.

Brad:

Thanks for the insights and sharing the scary video.

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