Food Net Diversifies Its Menu of Originals

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Experimenting with limited series and reality programming, Food Network will more than double its financial outlay for original fare during the 2001-02 season.

Though the E.W. Scripps Co.-owned channel would not reveal specific costs for its new original programs, executives said Food plans to offer more than 963 hours of original programming. That's more than 76 percent of the network's overall programming lineup, said president Judy Girard.

Food's new shows will follow the network's mantra of offering a smorgasbord of food-flavored programming for viewers. Most of them will launch during the summer, when network viewership is at its highest, according to Girard.

"We are only beginning to explore the diversity of programming that we can create around food as a lifestyle category," she said.

Unwrapped, a series based on several successful specials of the same name, is scheduled to launch in July. The show, hosted by Marc Summers, will explore the secrets behind viewers' favorite food sensations.

Also premiering that month is Appetite for Adventure, which exposes viewers to foods that relate to the great outdoors.

The channel will also bow several limited series in late summer and early fall. Girard said these entries would work well as pseudo specials, but won't have lengthy episode runs. Among those on the menu: My Country, My Kitchen, which follows top chefs back to their homelands to revisit their culinary and personal roots and Jacques Torres Chocolate, a how-to program for dessert designs.

Food will also take a stab at the reality genre with the launch of Cooking School Stories,
which chronicles the stressful lives of several students enrolled in cooking school.

In June, the network will embark on its biggest consumer contest to date: "Taste the Adventure," a multi-tiered sweepstakes. The two winning viewers will take a culinary journey through New York City, San Francisco/Napa Valley, and Hawaii, Girard said.

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