'Restaurant' star serving up show for fall 2005
Rocco DiSpirito is cooking up plans for a daytime gabfest with Endemol USA.The celeb chef — and star of NBC’s reality skein “The Restaurant” — has signed a deal with Endemol to develop and host an hourlong, five-day-a-week strip targeted for fall 2005 syndication. In addition, Endemol has inked multiyear overall deals with producers Joe Livecchi (“She Spies”) and Scott St. John (“Change of Heart,” “Studs”). All three pacts come as the studio behind hits such as “Fear Factor” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” continues to expand its original production efforts. Endemol is finalizing the pitch for the DiSpirito skein and will begin meeting with syndicators in the next few weeks as it searches for a distributor. David Goldberg, prexy of Endemol USA, said DiSpirito could help fill the gap left by the exit of Martha Stewart from the daytime scene. “He’s a showman, he’s a great communicator and a proven television talent, and all of those experiences make him ideal to host his own show,” Goldberg said. “Everyone’s trying to find the next Martha, but more relatable. I think Rocco can fill that void.” While DiSpirito will no doubt do some kitchen work, “It will by no means be a cooking show,” Goldberg said. Exec said the skein, still in the early stages of development, will be a blend of elements, perhaps even “a mini-reality show.” Second season of “The Restaurant” begins Monday on NBC, with much of the drama focusing on DiSpirito’s battle to retain control of the Gotham eatery he created last summer. While most of Endemol’s efforts have been focused on primetime and cable, studio has been working to get into syndication — most recently partnering with Tribune for the pilot “Mobile Court.” Addition of St. John and Livecchi to Endemol USA’s producer list will help the studio expand its original production efforts as well as provide talent to adapt Endemol’s overseas formats to the U.S. market. To that end, St. John has been tapped to serve as exec producer of the quizzer “Deal or No Deal,” which is expected to bow this summer on ABC. Besides being a creator and exec producer of syndie dating skein “Change of Heart” for five years, St. John developed and exec produced the quizzer “Street Smarts.” He’s previously had overall deals at Telepictures and Sony. “Scott has a long history of coming up with great ideas,” Goldberg said. “He just brings a very unique perspective to the business.” As for Livecchi, exec recently ankled his post as an ad exec at the NBC Agency, where he worked on campaigns for the Olympics, the XFL and numerous primetime skeins. “Joe is sort of an idea maven, and once ideas are sold, he knows how to get them made,” Goldberg said. “He’s a nice blend of a number of different talents.” While at NBC, Livecchi also worked in programming, co-creating and exec producing (with Vince Manze) the syndie actioner “She Spies.” He also created “The One That Got Away,” a two-hour reality special airing May 31 on NBC. Before NBC, Livecchi spent three years at ABC as director of interstitial programming and branding and another four at Paramount Domestic Television.