The Real Reason Emeril Lagasse’s Food Network Show Was Canceled

The Real Reason Emeril Lagasse’s Food Network Show Was Canceled


Bam! It’s impossible to describe just how influential
Emeril Lagasse was in shaping today’s culinary landscape. But in 2007, Food Network cancelled the show
that got so many people into the kitchen — and helped launch the network. So, why did Emeril Live really get the ax? When the cancellation of Emeril Live was announced,
Food Network publicist Carrie Welch released a vague statement on the network’s decision,
saying: “The only reason [the show would be cancelled
is] that it hit a ton of television milestones and, you know, all good things come to an
end.” Former Food Network president Brooke Johnson
gave a similarly vague statement to The New York Times, saying that while they still valued
Lagasse as an integral part of their team: “All good things come to an end, and it was
time to do something new.” Of course, that wasn’t the whole story. “Well, we won’t go there. It’s like … it’s a long story. You wanna really know?” “Yes!!!” The end of Emeril Live was quite a big deal. Since Food Network is huge today, it’s easy
to forget that way back in the olden days of the 1990s, it was struggling to even stay
afloat. Allen Salkin’s book From Scratch: Inside the
Food Network gives us a pretty unblinking look at just how far they’ve come — largely
thanks to Emeril Live, which was launched in 1997. In the early days, it wasn’t so much the Food
Network as it was the Emeril Network. He held the nightly 8 p.m. time slot, and
at a time when the young network was barely squeaking by, it was Lagasse they flaunted
to prove that they had the chops to make it. Salkin describes him as their “million-dollar
man in chef’s whites,” the star they pointed to when they wanted to impress. His contract in those early days was a three-year
deal, for which he was paid $333,334 each year. “WOOOOOO!” While that might not sound like much in comparison
to what some celebrities are paid today, Food Network lauded it as a million-dollar deal. The Food Network was essentially built on
Lagasse’s shoulders. Though network execs were boasting about their
average prime-time viewership of 778,000, they weren’t talking about their flagging
daily ratings, which were down to 544,000 from the previous year’s 580,000. The numbers loss was significant: Food Network
was suddenly left owing refunds to advertisers who weren’t reaching the viewership they’d
signed on for. We all know slumping numbers is a very real
indication that something at a network needs to change, and that meant rethinking just
what kind of programming they were putting on. Emeril Live became yesterday’s news, while
contemporary viewers wanted more. While Emeril Live was going up in flames,
cable TV was beginning to lean-in to reality competition shows. Food Network’s head of marketing reached
out to Emeril’s agent to try to get the chef on an up-and-coming show that would help
expose him to new viewers and hopefully lure those viewers over to Emeril Live. That up-and-coming show was Iron Chef, and
Emeril was having none of it. In a 2016 interview with GQ, the celebrity
chef explained why reality TV just isn’t his thing, saying: “I’m old-fashioned, and I want to teach people
how to cook, how to eat, how to serve, how to shop, how to drink wine, how to mix a cocktail
properly. I didn’t necessarily at the time want to get
into this competition stuff.” Like many Food Network stars today — Lagasse
had a full range of merchandise, including everything from cookbooks and cookware, to
salad dressings and spices. But when Food Network negotiated his contract,
they they hadn’t accounted for the money the popular chef was going to make selling his
branded goods. “BAM! Just like that!” According to The New York Times, Food Network’s
policy began to shift a bit in 2006. The network wanted more control over the licensing
agreements their stars made — so when they started signing newcomers like Bobby Flay
and Rachael Ray, they worked it into their contracts that chef-branded product lines
would be as much about the network as they were about the chef. Lagasse’s contract had no such rider, which
meant Food Network wasn’t making the same kind of money off his outside ventures. And as the network became more of a brand,
there simply wasn’t any room for Lagasse to continue to receive special treatment. Emeril Live was one of the network’s flagship
shows, and Lagasse was arguably their biggest star. But with his star power came a hefty price
tag, and that meant the still-fledgling network had to make some difficult decisions. According to to Allen Salkin’s book From Scratch:
Inside the Food Network, it was costing “hundreds of thousands of dollars a week” to keep Emeril
Live on-air — and those big paychecks were hitting the network where it hurt. On the other hand, each episode of Flay and
Ray’s respective shows cost an average of just $40,000 at the time, a price which included
their salary. Food Network had a choice to make: either
support one week of Emeril Live with their budget, or produce an entire, 13-episode season
of a show featuring up-and-coming young talent within the industry. You don’t need a business degree to figure
out why they chose the latter. It’s been more than a decade since the cancellation
of Emeril Live, and since then, Lagasse has gone on to do a number of other shows. The celebrity chef told GQ: “When it ended, everybody felt like it was
time for a little break. I didn’t necessarily think that, but that’s
what everybody else thought, that maybe it was time for a break from Emeril. And… you know. So I went and did some other things…” “Cause you know … men belong in the kitchen.” There’s no denying that Emeril Live helped
make Food Network into the juggernaut of programming it is today, but does Lagasse think they helped
him in any way? It’s doubtful. Lagasse dished to Eater: “The Food Network is not why I have 12 restaurants…. It all started at Emeril’s on Tchoup.” Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite
celebrity chefs are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one!

51 Comments

  1. Emeril wasn't trying to let anyone else make a name along with him thinking he was above everyone that is why it is important to stay humble make the money don't let it make you .

  2. Back in the day, cooking shows taught and inspired home cooks AND pro chefs alike. Now it's all competition this and competition that. Not much detail. Was one of my favorite channels. Rarely watch FN anymore.

  3. The REAL reason was he would say "BAM" really loud, and it scared the liberals at the network. They thought it sounded like a gun going off, and it made them nervous and scared.

  4. I REALLY miss the old Food Network. I used to watch it 24/7. Now, whenever there’s nothing interesting on 📺 🤦🏽‍♂️🤦🏽‍♂️🤦🏽‍♂️

  5. and now there is Youtube .. that beats fn hands down in the shows about people actually cooking and explaining how to cook.. and cooking stuff you can actually cook at home

  6. Emeril is THE reason I got excited about cooking AND still am to this day. In fact I still cook with his excellent cookware too. Both he and his cookware have served me greatly and a big "thank you" goes out from my heart to Emeril! Thanks for putting this video together.

  7. How was it costing the Food network hundreds of thousands a week to produce his shows when his contract was about $333k annually? If he was advertising his own branded products on his shows then of course the network should have a right to charge for that, but for them to get a % of revenue from that is ludicrous! The real reason he left is simple. He was a mans man of a chef and the new leaders of the network that came in wanted the star of their network someone to be less masculine. Bad mistake! I never watch that channel now as its programing blows!! You cannot watch the Food network to learn anything about cooking, but if you want to see how some single mom from Cincinnati can win a bake off, then this fluffy channel is for you!

  8. Food Network was overrun by trendy hipsters who have disproportionately high quotas for gays, lesbians and anyone with ear gauges or multiple facial piercings. Emeril is doing fine–he has a hit infomercial for Air Fryers. (sheesh…)

  9. So basically they wanted complete control over his brand name so they dumped him when he wouldn't renegotiate his contract. Uh yeah good decision on his part.

  10. For those who miss the old TVFN, there is Hope, and of course it’s streaming. British and French tv shows in the style of the better educational/inspirational style abound. Watch stuff like Two Greedy Italians (fantastic, like Two Fat Ladies), anything by Raymond Blanc (very serious detailed recipes from a superb teacher, great travel segments), and the wonderful French program Les Carnets de Julie offer solace to those sick of another damned episode of Guy Fieri, in which he says “money!” For the trillionth time. Alexfrenchcookingguy on YouTube is, without a doubt, the modern day Alton Brown, funny and fun and educational. Try both YouTube and dailymotion for your fix.

  11. Wow he got the f.n. famous they turn around an fire him because of pay he earned getting the food network mainstream.

  12. There went the time FN was good – Emeril, Paula Deen, a more humble Rachel Ray… now with their pathetic reality/ competition shows they are probably doomed to become what they were before Emeril… we are cutting our cable anyway.. so whatever..

  13. One of my favorite celebrity chefs because he simply loved people. He embraced black culture as well. I actually cooked for him in New Orleans. Born and raised there. So I was naturally influenced to be a great cook or a great chef. I attended culinary school a few blocks from his restaurant. Although I never work from him, he came to our school. And think us for helping out with a large banquet he had. He was super cool. He even said his trademark "bam!" Before he left.

  14. He taught me how to make the best thanksgiving turkey 🦃 I always get compliments on my turkey!!!!

  15. I used to watch Emeril show all of the time with my little brother. Those were the days…the past shows were so awesome.

  16. Don’t watch the FN anymore. It’s all contests, reality shows. Very boring. It’s not about cooking anymore.

  17. The classic old cooking shows were heads and shoulders above these amatuer compitition shows…and I hate Iron Chef and Chopped. Who really makes a meal of some of the junk they put together? The old better shows include Emeril, Justin Wilson, and one of my wifes favorites "Two Fat Ladies". TFL was ahead of its time with their stories mixed in with their cooking.

  18. Emerill Lagase too me was a child hood inspiration. Not just for cooking, but he taught important traits about character. Truly a compassionate and charismatic man.

  19. Letting Emeril go was the single biggest mistake in television cooking history. The reality show cooking contests got old quick, and besides cooking is a art, not a competition. What once was fun turned into a circus on crack

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