Friday, February 22, 2008

You Mean...Reality TV Isn't Real?

I don't blog about food much, but this "expose" in the Village Voice about Iron Chef fascinated me and, perversely, made me absolutely roar. Having interviewed Mo Rocca, a frequent judge on the program, last year, I wonder what he does during the apparently interminable breaks and set-ups and break-downs that are, in part, at the heart of this piece. Crack jokes? Order a sandwich from Subway?

Here are some choice bits from the piece. Seriously, why hasn't something like this been written about other reality shows? Because of airtight contracts? Really? Really? Or maybe it's because the fourth estate is in on the joke to some degree?

Anyway, some choice bits:

"....As far as I could tell from the monitors, it didn't matter where the guests sat, since you can't see their faces anyway, enveloped as they were in fog. Only occasionally did a sweeping shot reveal the vague characters on the edges of the room, intended to make it seem like the stadium is thronged. As a TV viewer, I was under the impression that the fog was used only at the start of the show, but the fog machines kept cranking throughout the taping, concealing all sorts of details the network might not want you to see. As the taping progressed, we felt more and more like we were viewing the scene in The Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls aside the curtain and the wizard's tricks are revealed...."

"....I sat worrying about how fresh the dishes would taste to the judges, who seemed in no hurry to get the judging started. Eventually, after 45 minutes or so, they took their seats for the next part of the taping: Kelly Choi, the statuesque host of local TV show Eat Out New York, wearing an astonishing quantity of make-up; John J. Nihoff, who is described on the Food Network's website as "Professor of Gastronomy" at the Culinary Institute of America, though the institute's website styles him an associate professor of liberal arts; and Ted Allen. It was announced to the audience that the tasting of dishes for each chef would take about 45 minutes, and, I wondered, wouldn't this give the Iron Chef—whose dishes would be tasted first—a tremendous advantage?...."

"....When the champion was announced, Morimoto prevailed. As I watched the show one year later, I learned that the contest had been a rout, with Morimoto receiving 59 of 60 points, including a perfect 20 for taste. Poor Nicotra got only 51 points; he hadn't even come close. That afternoon in the studio, Iron Chef Morimoto stood impassively to receive his award, as if he couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. The audience was never given the actual scores. Instead, it was ushered out immediately and unceremoniously, since a second Iron Chef contest was about to be taped."

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1 comment:

Harp said...

of course its fake, its tv! and nihoff is the professor of gastronomy. i am taking his class right now.