Screen Junkies » bravo Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Wed, 17 Sep 2014 22:16:30 +0000 en hourly 1 Bravo Developing A Series Based on Brett Easton Ellis’ ‘Rules Of Attraction’ Mon, 12 May 2014 15:55:58 +0000 Penn Collins Hopefully, this will turn the "End of the World" party into a widely recognized thing.

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Sometimes, Bravo likes to confuse us by taking the lowest lowbrow content ever (Housewives and such) and sprinkle it with decent programming. If you have a very long memory, you may recall that Bravo was originally called such because it served as a show about the arts. Opera, plays and such.

Obviously, that was a long time ago, and now it’s only slightly above E! in its dedication to art.

However, they’re at least moving forward with something based on a book, as Roger Avary, the producer and writer of the 2002 film Rules of Attraction, is now looking to turn it into a series.

While the movie didn’t seem to be about much in particular, over the longer arc of a series, they’ll need a more cohesive plot, so they’re having a murder take place where EVERYONE IS A SUSPECT.

Whatever. Just put Shannyn Sossamon in it, and we should be ok.

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Holy Hell, Bravo Just Announced 15 New Series Tue, 08 Apr 2014 17:56:18 +0000 Penn Collins Yes, but will any of them be reality shows about empty, stupid people?

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Bravo‘s lucky these shows only cost about $45/episode, because they just ordered a shit-ton of new shows. Of the 15 that were just announced in the press release, only 2 are scripted. 13 are reality, and 0 of them presumably fall in the wheelhouse of the average Screen Junkies reader, unless you were hoping for more twists on Top Chef.

I’m not even going to consider running through the new shows, so here’s the press release, copied and pasted. The only commentary I will offer is that one is called Game of Crowns, which…man, that’s stupid.


“Odd Mom Out”

Produced by Left/Right with Ken Druckerman and Banks Tarver serving as Executive Producers along with Jill Kargman, and Piro Vision’s Tim Piper and Daniel Rosenberg.

Forget about keeping up with the Joneses, in acclaimed author and celebrated fashionista Jill Kargman’s world, life is about keeping up with the Rockefellers. This hilarious half-hour comedy, based not-so-loosely on Jill’s own life, captures the fantastically outrageous world of the uber-wealthy momzillas of New York’s Upper East Side. Playing a version of herself, Jill is living in a world that has become so elite, so hip, and so trendy, that she’s now the odd mom out.

“Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce”

Produced by Universal Cable Productions with Marti Noxon, who wrote the pilot, Vicki Iovine, Meryl Poster and Robbie Duncan McNeil serving as Executive Producers.

Based on the best-selling “Girlfriends’ Guide” book series by Vicki Iovine, the scripted series written by Marti Noxon (“Glee,” “Mad Men,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”), follows Abby, played by Lisa Edelstein (“House”), a self-help book author who hides the fact that she’s separated from her husband as she starts to navigate her life as a single woman in her early 40s in Los Angeles. As previously announced, the series also stars Janeane Garofalo (“Reality Bites”) as Lyla and Beau Garrett (“Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior”) as Phoebe. The network now confirms, Necar Zadegan (“Emily Owens, MD,” “24”) will star in the new role of Delia and Robert Duncan McNeill (“666 Park Avenue,” “Chuck”) has signed on as Producing Director for the series, which is slated to begin production this summer. Paul Adelstein played the role of Abby’s husband in the pilot and Carrie Fisher made a cameo as Abby’s book editor Cat in the pilot.


“Top Chef Duels”

Produced by Magical Elves with Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz serving as Executive Producers.

Previously announced as “Top Chef Extreme,” this new culinary competition series hosted by celebrity chef Curtis Stone brings back eighteen of the biggest, boldest and most talked-about personalities from past seasons of “Top Chef” and “Top Chef Masters.” In each episode, two former chef’testants will face off head-to-head in three rounds of extreme culinary challenges, each being given the chance to up the ante and challenge the other’s culinary skills. The winners of each battle will compete in the season finale in a test of pure gastronomic talent and ambition until only one is standing to claim the $100,000 grand prize and culinary bragging rights. Curtis Stone will also anchor the judges table with Gail Simmons, while chefs Wolfgang Puck and Hugh Acheson and special guests will round out the judging panel throughout the series.

“Best New Restaurant”

Produced by One Potato Two Potato with Gordon Ramsay, Tom Colicchio, Elizabeth Cook, Nicola Moody, Pat Llewellyn and Ben Adler serving as Executive Producers.

A new out-of-studio culinary competition series that tackles the food world from a fresh direction: the restaurant. Acclaimed restaurateur and host, Tom Colicchio, along with his trusted team of experts, pit 16 of the nation’s hottest new restaurants against each other in a series of challenges aimed at determining who provides the best all-around, top-to-bottom experience. Tom will travel across the nation in search of only one restaurant that deserves a cash prize and to be crowned “Best New Restaurant.” The series is modeled after the UK hit “Ramsay’s Best Restaurant” from executive producer Gordon Ramsay.

“100 Dates” (working title)

Produced by All3Media America, Goodbye Pictures and Lime Pictures. Eli Holzman, Stephen Lambert and Derek McLean will serve as Executive Producers for AllMedia America; Rich Bye will serve as Executive Producer for Goodbye Pictures; and Kate Little and Claire Poysner will serve as Executive Producers for Lime Pictures.

“100 Dates” follows a group of young, successful New York singles as they search for love and live it up in the city that never sleeps. Marking the network’s first foray into real-time docu-drama production, each episode will be shot and aired within the same week. This addictive series takes transmedia to the next level as fans will be able to interact with the cast and affect the story in ways that have never been seen through social media.

“Friends to Lovers?”

Produced by World of Wonder with Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell and Angela Berg serving as Executive Producers.

A true social experiment exploring what happens when platonic friends leave the comfort of the ‘friend zone’ behind and transition into exclusive romantic relationships. “Friends to Lovers?” attempts to answer the age old question, can friends really become lovers, as it follows multiple sets of friends who take a leap of faith and decide to take their relationships to the next level.

“Manzo’d with Children”

Produced by Sirens Media with Lucilla D’Agostino, Valerie Haselton and Rebecca Toth Diefenbach serving as Executive Producers.

Caroline Manzo of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” attempts to be the ring leader of her crazy Italian family. Her children are driving her more nuts than ever as Albie is single and ready to mingle, Chris is eager to come up with the best idea since the stripper/car wash, and Lauren has finally let Vito put a ring on it. Meanwhile, husband, Al Sr., has no tolerance for all these shenanigans. It’s one crowded house filled with laughter and personality…and maybe a few rounds of the Ham Game.

“Euros of Hollywood”

Produced by CORE Media Group with Jennifer O’Connell, Rob Lee of Bayonne Entertainment and Andrew Hoegl serving as Executive Producers.

With personalities as big as their native countries, six successful European jetsetters are taking Los Angeles by storm. From an Albanian pop princess determined to conquer America her way, to a self-dubbed Italian Renaissance man whose personality screams “I’m a star,” these men and women are stopping at nothing on their rise to the top. With their hearts on their sleeves, they have a few things in common— the pursuit of wealth, power, fame and the American dream.

“Ladies of London” – Premiering June

Produced by Adjacent Productions with Izzie Pick Ashcroft, Claire O’Donohoe, Anna Geddes, Jane Tranter and Michael Brooks serving as Executive Producers.

Set in the glittering, class-conscious city of London, the docu-series follows a group of elite British socialites, Annabelle Neilson and Caroline Stanbury along with American expats Juliet Angus, Caprice Bourret, Marissa Hermer and Noelle Reno who all run in similar social circles, but are worlds apart. From weekend getaways in the English countryside, to high tea at one of London’s exclusive polo-clubs, both groups adhere to strict unwritten rules of engagement where reputation is everything.

“Game of Crowns” – Premiering July

Produced by Shed Media US with Pam Healey, Lisa Shannon, Dan Peirson and Tess Gamboa as Executive Producers.

Six pageant wives compete on the “Mrs.” pageant circuit to snatch the spotlight with their intense preparation from obsessing over the perfect swimsuit to honing their interview skills– all while being dedicated mothers and wives. The cast includes Susanna Paliotta, Shelley Carbone, Lynne Diamante, Vanassa Sebastian, Leha Guilmette, and Lori-Ann Marchese.

“Million Dollar Listing Miami” – Premiering June

Produced by World of Wonder Productions with Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell and Eric Detwiler serving as Executive Producers.

The hit franchise is expanding into the sexy city of Miami where three luxury agents, Chad Carroll, Samantha DeBianchi and Chris Leavitt, battle it out in the world of high-end real estate. With a surging market in South Florida, properties are selling for record rates and agents are cashing in on massive commissions like never before. Business can get heated as the brokers attempt to make a name for themselves and outshine their competition by landing the next big listing.

“Jersey Belle”

Produced by Authentic Entertainment with Lauren Lexton, Tom Rogan and Sonia Slutsky serving as Executive Producers.

A classic fish-out-of-water tale, this docu-series follows outspoken New Jersey native and Hollywood publicist, Jaime Primak Sullivan, as she navigates life in the upscale southern suburb of Mountain Brook, Alabama. Jaime’s life was turned upside down after she married the town’s “most eligible” bachelor. Despite the help of her girlfriends, who are determined to sculpt Jaime into a southern darling, Jaime can’t help but speak her mind – often to hilarious results. Can Jaime keep her Jersey cool in the Deep South, or will her southern-bred BFFs finally turn her into a true-blue Alabama belle?

“Untying the Knot” – Premiering June

Produced by Engel Entertainment with Steven Engel, Krystal Kennedy and Dean W. Slotar serving as Executive Producers.

When couples go from “I do” to “I don’t,” Vikki Ziegler is who they call to mediate, advise and divide their assets out of court. Each episode features a different divorcing couple struggling to divvy up their belongings that range from dazzling diamonds to the family pets. Expert appraisers Michael and Mark Millea evaluate the items in question and help Vikki determine a fair division of assets. Why let a judge decide your fate when this “Divorce Diva” can cut through all the drama to determine who will get what?

“Extreme Guide to Parenting” – Premiering July

Produced by Punched In The Head Productions with Amelia D’Entrone, Craig D’Entrone and Lauren Lazin serving as Executive Producers.

From spoiling and severe punishments to helicopter and new age methods, this is parenting at its most extreme. Each episode gives a candid look at two different households with very unique styles of raising their children – and each family strongly believes their methods are superior.

“The Real Housewives of Atlanta: Kandi’s Wedding” (working title)

Produced by True Entertainment with Steven Weinstock, Glenda Hersh, Lauren Eskelin and Carlos King serving as Executive Producers. Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker also serve as Executive Producers.

You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker. Against vocal family opposition that played out dramatically in season six of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” Kandi and Todd have decided to move forward and tie the knot. Each episode follows Kandi and Todd as they plan a larger-than-life “Coming to America” themed wedding ceremony, signifying the couple’s initial introduction in Africa.


“Going Going Gone” (working title)

Produced by Fremantle Media North America with Thom Beers, Toby Gorman and Jodi Day serving as Executive Producers.

A never-before-attempted live televised estate sale where viewers are given the chance to snoop around the most spectacular homes in the country and bid LIVE on what’s inside! From a hand-sewn peacock feather dress modeled by Naomi Campbell at Milan Fashion Week to a stunning worn leather knife roll used by Wolfgang Puck at the time he opened his first Spago, at home viewers will have the opportunity to own some truly unique treasures.

“Tour Group” (working title)

Produced by Monkey Kingdom with Will Macdonald and David Granger serving as Executive Producers.

This luxury travel docu-series will follow a diverse group of upscale characters on a mind-blowing vacation through the most stunning, eclectic and exclusive sights and scenes around the globe. With such vibrant and varied personalities forced together in alien environments for two months, this dream holiday could be just that as some might find love under the pink light of the Taj Mahal, or turn into a nightmare for others as the furs fly in seven star resorts from Dubai to the Maldives. One thing is for certain, from a Safari in Kenya to the Souks of Morocco, this will be the ride of a lifetime.

“Gen XYZ” (working title)

Produced by Warrior Poets and Crybaby Media with Morgan Spurlock, Ethan Goldman, Jeremy Chilnick and Danny Passman serving as Executive Producers.

Six ambitious and successful women from four different generations are each on the precipice of taking their career to the next level in the fashion and beauty industries. While working to navigate the delicate balance between their personal and professional realities and aspirations, these trail blazers are grappling with what “having it all” really looks like for women of today in the cutthroat fashion industry.


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Bravo’s Giving You A TV Show That’s Just About People Watching TV Fri, 13 Sep 2013 18:26:08 +0000 Penn Collins But will they be mindlessly surfing the Internet while watching, like we do?

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It appears that the development team at Bravo just learned what “postmodern” and “meta” mean, and they’re in a hurry to use those ideas regardless of how dumb the concept.

And it’s dumb.

Fortunately, the Franco-esque series The People’s Couch will only run for three episodes and be limited to 30 minutes each of a diverse group of Americans watching and commenting.

It’s partially our own fault following the moderate success of Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and those Talking Dead/Talking Bad AMC wrap-ups. If you comment here, you’re further demonstrating that TV viewers are looking for a more communal experience. How some jerks on a couch watching TV help nourish that desire is anyone’s guess, but whatever. It’s Bravo.

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Bravo Is Adapting/Rebooting/Whatevering ‘Heathers’ Into A TV Show Wed, 12 Sep 2012 15:50:22 +0000 Penn Collins "I LOVE MY DEAD GAY SON!"

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Ok, Bravo. You’ve never done anything scripted that warrants my recollection, but I’ll pretend that you won’t screw this up. I feel like I’m meeting you more than halfway on this one.

In a push to offer more scripted fare, Bravo has announced it will be adapting the black comedy Heathers into a TV series, picking up 20 years after the original, in a time where Veronica (Winona Ryder’s character) has a daughter of her own and moves back to Sherwood.

The daughter will be fending for herself against the Ashleys, the daughters of all the Heathers from the originals. The concept of an elitest group of Ashleys might sound familiar because they appeared in the awesome Disney cartoon Recess, but their presence may have been a nod to Heathers, so I really don’t know what to believe anymore.

Whatever keeps housewives off the air is cool with me, I guess.

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Get Your Hopes Up, A ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ Sequel Is ‘Yes, Absolutely 100%’ Getting Made Thu, 09 Feb 2012 19:00:19 +0000 Penn Collins Chris Meloni returns as Gene, the shell-shocked Vietnam vet or GTFO.

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Never mind that the Wet Hot American Summer cast, which includes Amy Poehler, Chris Meloni, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Rudd, have gone on to superstardom since the 2001 original. Writer and star Michael Showalter told Bravo‘s Andy Cohen that a follow-up to the cult hit is getting made.

When the film premiered in 2001, it featured a dozen or so thirty year-old actors playing sixteen year-olds. Now, Showalter says those same actors will be playing sixteen year-olds at the age of forty. That could be kind of funny.

While Wet Hot American Summer didn’t really pop up on anyone’s radar at the time of its release, the cult following enjoyed by members of The State and Stella ensured that the film would enjoy a long, healthy quoted life after its theatrical run.

Universal has expressed reluctance at following up on the property, given that it’s only known and loved by a small percentage of the population, but someone wouldn’t say something they didn’t mean on Bravo, would they?


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‘Project Runway’ Star Tim Gunn Hasn’t Had Sex In 29 Years. Think About THAT! Tue, 24 Jan 2012 22:43:34 +0000 Penn Collins That glow that you get after sex? I guess you can get that from cosmetics, too.

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Tim Gunn has made no secret of the fact that he’s a gay man living a celibate lifestyle. It’s one thing to hear the phrase “celibate lifestyle” and brush it off, but it’s entirely another to hear the man admit to ABC‘s The Revolution that he hasn’t had sex in 29 years.

Yep, 29 years.

The last time Project Runway host Tim Gunn got dirty with another person, the Iran-Contra affair was still four years off. Ronald Reagan was a new president.

He said that the celibacy was brought about by a previous relationship that, in conjunction with the rising threat of AIDS in the gay community, just sorta turned him off of sex for the next thirty years or so.

Perhaps if we took our filthy minds off of sex for a scant thirty years, we would be able to write that novel we kept putting off, start that artisanal granola company that we’ve always dreamed of, or maybe even get popular catch phrase like “Make it work.”

My catch phrase would be “GIMME A HANDJOB!”

See? Catchy!

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Anderson Cooper Bans Kardashians From His New Talk Show Fri, 13 Jan 2012 21:59:50 +0000 Penn Collins He should ban the real villain here, himself. Read on to figure out what the hell I'm talking about.

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While promoting his new talk show, the effervescently-titled Anderson! (exclamation point mine) on Bravo‘s Watch What Happens Live, the silver-haired dreamboat said that if he could ban any guest from his new show, he would choose the entire Kardashian clan. This just moments after possible-bastard Khloe tweeted how much she loved Cooper. Rough week for Khloe.

While I appreciate Anderson Cooper’s strong anti-Kardashian stance, I take issue with his edict for two reasons. One: The Bravo host specifically asked for only ONE person who would be banned from Anderson! (again, exclamation point mine), but Cooper bent the rules to accomodate his personal politics. You know who else bent rules to accomodate at the convenience of his own beliefs? If you do, please leave his name in the comments for a special Screen Junkies prize.

Reason two: Anderson Cooper is so quick to judge the Kardashian clan over their fame-whoring, which I completely agree with, but refuses to turn the microscope on himself to examine the wrongs he’s perpetrating across the country and possibly the world. Namely, he’s making honest, Christian straight men go gay with his good looks, nonchalant charm, and terrific wardrobe. Specifically, he’s making me question my sexuality, and I’m sure I’m not alone here. (If you count among the straight men going gay for Anderson Cooper, again, put your name in the comments to be eligible for a special Screen Junkies prize.)

I don’t want to harp on his any longer than I already have, but Cooper should ban HIMSELF from his new show, Anderson, (my exclamation point omitted because I’m incredibly angry with him right now).

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5 Most Nauseating Reality Show Pregnancies Wed, 30 Nov 2011 23:27:11 +0000 Wookie Johnson These are more disgusting than the birthing scene in 'Beloved'.

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Today, Kourtney Kardashian announced to the press that she will be bringing another fame whore into the world. So far, she has not detailed how she will be cashing in on the pregnancy, but you can bet that magazines will shell out top dollar for rights to first pictures, and a reality television camera will likely follow her into the delivery room. Then, after 72 days, we’ll all be shocked when she announces that she doesn’t want the baby anymore and tries to shove it back into her womb. Those wacky Kardashians.

Okay. So maybe that’s a bit extreme. One thing we do know is that the coverage of her pregnancy is certain to be nauseating. Much like these five pregnancy-centric reality shows.

16 and Pregnant

If there’s one mission that 16 and Pregnant has achieved, it’s raising the awareness that it’s hilarious when fat people hit one another. Also, pregnancy is bad. Never get pregnant. But seriously. It may seem insensitive to laugh after heavyset-on-heavyset violence, but I counter that accusation with this:

I rest my case.

Pregnant in Heels

Bravo‘s Pregnant in Heels follows Maternity Concierge Rosie Pope as she helps entitled, expectant New York caricatures and their effeminate husbands trick out their nurseries and obtain other assorted baby needs. Just don’t go to her with any spell check needs.

Scott Baio Is 46… and Pregnant

Don’t let the banner image fool you. Scott Baio is 46… and Pregnant is not about Chachi’s Thomas Beatie-esque attempts to father a child himself. It focuses more on his selfish fear and adjustment to the idea of having to wake up early and have a baby touching his stuff with all of its baby germs. Who can blame him? I’d be pissed too to find Honey Nut Cheerios in my humidor.

The Rachel Zoe Project

I’ll admit that I have never watched The Rachel Zoe Project. But when I began researching this article and asking around she was everyone’s first recommendation for nauseating pregnant reality stars. Strength in numbers.

Tori & Dean: Inn Love

Tori & Dean: Inn Lovefollows the couple as they eagerly search for a way to spend the inheritance she netted from her estranged, dead father. Well, at least it has likable characters at its center. The first season follows the expectant couple as they search for a bed and breakfast to fix up and make terrible with their presence. By season two, they were no longer enamored with the notion of working for a living and returned to the limelight of Hollywood having successful spun her inheritance into more wealth and fame.

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Take The ‘Is That Patti Stanger Or Chewbacca’ Challenge Mon, 26 Sep 2011 21:04:05 +0000 Wookie Johnson 'Patti once pulled a man's arms out of their sockets after losing a game of canasta.'

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Is that Patti Stanger or Chewbacca? This question has plagued mankind ever since The Millionaire Matchmaker was unleashed onto the public three years ago. A recent poll showed that more than 40% of Americans are under the mistaken impression that the beloved Star Wars Wookiee has converted to Judaism and is hosting his own shitty dating show on Bravo. In order to clear up the confusion, we did some research, and discovered that with a little practice, it is possible to tell The Millionaire Matchmaker’s Patti Stanger apart from Chewbacca. And if we can do it, so can you. Take the quiz below, and you’ll be on your way….

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Giddyup: ‘Top Chef: Texas’ Unveils Contestants And Guests Wed, 21 Sep 2011 21:44:50 +0000 Penn Collins A patient nation still holds out for 'Top Scallop'.

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Having already knocked out the coasts and Chicago, Top Chef producers have decided it’s time to visit (sigh) the flyover states. Next stop: Texas. The show will bounce between Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio in the upcoming season, which premieres on November 2nd.

This season’s bizarrely random smattering of special guests includes: Charlize Theron, Pee-wee Herman, Cat Cora, John Besh, Tim Love and Patti LaBelle. Do you think the contestants will find themselves pandering to Pee-wee’s well-documented love of porcini mushrooms?

I’m kidding. I have no idea if Pee-wee Herman likes porcini mushrooms.

Host Padma Lakshmi and Judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons will be joined by chefs Emeril Lagasse and Hugh Acheson.

Can a humorless host please synopsize the upcoming season in a meaningless sound byte?

“Just like Texas, this will be our biggest season ever,” said head judge Tom Colicchio.

Thanks, Tom.

Here is a list of the hopefuls. I recognize none of the names and three of the restaurants. See if you can beat me!

Nyesha Arrington, 28 –  Los Angeles, Calif., Wilshire Restaurant.
Lindsay Autry, 29 – West Palm Beach, Fla., Omphoy Ocean Resort &Michelle Bernstein
Jonathan Baltazar, 36 – Long Beach, Calif., Heights Cuisine.
Ty-Lör Boring, 34 – Brooklyn, N.Y.,  Spasso
Molly Brandt, 30 – Hollywood, Fla., Allure of the Seas for Royal Caribbean
Chaz Brown, 29 – New York, N.Y., Fatty Crab
Kimberly Calichio, 27 – New York, N.Y.,  Fishtail by David Burke
Beverly Kim, 31 – Chicago, Ill., Aria Restaurant
Chris Crary, 29 – Los Angeles, Calif., Whist Restaurant in the Viceroy Hotel
Andrew Curren, 32 – Austin, Texas 24 Diner
Berenice deAraujo, 33 – Miami, Fla., Sra. Martinez
Janine Falvo, 37 – Atlanta, Ga., Briza Restaurant
Richie Farina, 28 – Chicago, Ill., MOTO
Sarah Grueneberg, 29 – Chicago, Ill., Spiaggia
Chris Jones, 30 – Chicago, Ill., MOTO
Edward Lee, 38 – Louisville, Ky., 610 Magnolia
Whitney Otawka, 30 – Cumberland Island, Ga., Greyfield Inn
Simon Pantet, 30 – Seattle, Wash., Twenty-Two Doors
Colin Patterson, 37 – Seattle, Wash., Sutra
Laurent Quenioux, 51 – Los Angeles, Calif., Vertical Wine Bistro
Paul Qui, 30 – Austin, Texas, Uchiko Restaurant
Keith Rhodes, 39 – Wilmington, N.C., Catch Restaurants
Grayson Schmitz, 27 – New York, N.Y., Exec. Chef
Tyler Stone, 22 – Sacramento, Calif., Personal Chef
Heather Terhune, 39 – Chicago, Ill., Sable Kitchen and Bar
Chuy Valencia, 25 – Chicago, Ill., Chilam Bilam
Nina Vicente, 29 – Seattle, Wash., Spur Gastropub
Ashley Villaluz, 25 – Seattle, Wash., Sous Chef
Dakota Weiss , 35 – Los Angeles, Calif., 9:30 Restaurant and The Backyard

If the list seems long to you, you’re not alone. They have increased the field from 16 to 29, though only 16 will be making it to Texas. Why are they doing this? Who the hell knows. Probably some sort of “bigger is better” philosophy because they’re in Texas and everything is bigger in Texas. Like the size of the list of mentally retarded people they execute. That’s huge.

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‘Top Chef’ Needs More Cooking, Less Gimmicks Thu, 10 Mar 2011 21:56:19 +0000 Jame Gumb The road to “Hell’s Kitchen” is paved with good intentions.

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Last night’s episode of “Top Chef” was a sad indictment on the American educational system. The five remaining contestants were whisked away to the Bahamas where the remainder of the season will take place. After the Quick Fire Challenge, judge Tom Colicchio informed the group that Elimination Challenge would involve cooking for “Bahamian royalty,” and the chefs seemed genuinely excited at the prospect. After all, who wouldn’t be? Me.

Now, I’m not exactly a member of the foreign service, but when you start talking about a royal family for a country that’s 50 miles off the U.S. coast, it catches my attention. Shouldn’t I have heard of the King and Queen of the Bahamas at some point in my life? More importantly, how does a former colony in the Americas end up with their own king? Unfortunately, the chefs never thought to ask these questions, and went about preparing for their royal engagement, only to find out they’d been duped. There is no Bahamian royal family (GASP!), and the meal was for the “King of the Junkanoo” at a tiny restaurant. In short, they prepared a meal for royalty, but they ended up serving commoners.

Now, the fact that none of the five chefs knew that there is no king or queen in the Bahamas is bad. I hope maybe someone did, and it was edited out by the producers. But that’s irrelevant. This is a cooking show, not a social studies class. Why should Antonia be punished because she didn’t pay attention in school? More importantly, what purpose did the trick serve? I know improvisation is an important skill for chefs, but there’s a difference between having to adapt to a situation and having to scramble because you were lied to. The entire situation may have been entertaining to watch, but at the end of the day, it didn’t help in determining who is the better chef.

Throughout the season, the chefs have been asked to participate in numerous challenges that have had absolutely nothing to do with their culinary skill. For example, in episode 10, they were told to create a meal for the employees of a Target using only ingredients and cookware found in the store itself. Granted, this challenge had some redeeming value, as it showed the chefs ability to think outsid the box and work with ingredients on hand, but it was still disappointing to see Angelo go home for salty soup. Of course it was salty! All the food came from Target.

A similar example came from episode 12, when the contestants had to make a meal using only items from the Ellis Island ferryboat. When “Top Chefs” are reduced to boiling hot dogs and mixing popcorn with fruit, what does that prove? Nothing, but at least this was only a Quick Fire.

Perhaps the worst example was from episode 6, where the participants were split up into groups and taken out on chartered fishing tours in order to catch the meal they would be cooking that evening. Granted, it’s important for a chef to know his or her ingredients, but this was ridiculous. One’s ability to catch a fish does not reflect on one’s ability to cook it. If someone had came up empty, would they have been sent home? That’s like sending Tom Brady home from the playoffs because he can’t kill a pig and tan it’s skin for a football. Apparently, the producers disagree, since the previews for next week’s episode show the remaining chefs diving for shellfish. If I wanted to watch “Deadliest Catch,” I’d have DVR’ed “Deadliest Catch.” I want to watch “Top Chef,” damn it.

Sadly, when it comes to tricks and gimmicks, the contestants aren’t the only ones being set up. In episode 12, it was the audience who got punked. After sitting through an entire hour of nonsense involving family histories and personal journeys, the judges were “unable” to reach an agreement because all the dishes were so spectacular. Give me break. This culinary miracle just happened to take place on the most contrived, overly emotional episode of the season, when family members of each contestant were in attendance? How convenient.

From what I’ve read, there won’t be any double eliminations in the remaining episodes, which is strange. TV schedules are decided months in advance, but I suppose the producers and the network just said, “Sure, what the hell? We can do an extra episode on short notice. No biggie. Oh, now we’re flying five people to the Bahamas instead of four? Great!” Even if I’m all wrong, and I’m just being a cynical bastard (which is entirely possible), that’s no excuse. This isn’t the Special Olympics! They aren’t all winners. If they honestly all did that great of a job, do an elimination Quick Fire and send someone packing. If no one goes home, it’s no longer a competition, and I just wasted an hour of my time watching assholes cook for no reason. That’s what the Food Network is for. This is Bravo. I want blood!

People watch “Top Chef” because it’s smarter than its competitors, and it doesn’t traffic in manufactured drama. I’m not going to stop watching anytime soon. And the fact that it’s taken eight seasons for me to get pissed off speaks volumes. Keeping a show fresh is difficult, and for the most part, the producers have done a spectacular job. But these recent gimmicks and pointless challenges aren’t going to do the show any favors in the long run. After all, the road to “Hell’s Kitchen” is paved with good intentions.

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