A few minutes into the TCA panel discussion for the upcoming syndicated strip “The Chew,” the show’s producer, Gordon Elliott, was interrupted by a journalist in the audience. He had opened the session by posing a question to one of the show’s hosts, Daphne Oz, about what qualified her to host the show.
“We’re the ones who ask the questions,” the critic sniffed. Chastened, Elliott smiled politely and let the questions start coming.
Perhaps Gordon made the faux pas because being in front of an audience and bright lights made him lapse into the job he’s better known for: host of 1990s syndication fixture “The Gordon Elliott Show.” He’s gone on to enjoy a successful career behind the camera as head of Follow Prods., the company behind Paula Deen’s shows on Food Network.
But assuming the role of interviewer in a room full of interviewers wasn’t even his biggest mistake. At 6″7″, Elliott loomed large both literally and figuratively over the “Chew” personalities at the center of the show.
Only three members of the “Chew” roundtable came to TCA to woo the crowd, and all of them were thoroughly upstaged by Elliott: Oz, a chef whose qualifications include being the daughter of another syndie star, Dr. Oz., and having been fat as a teenager; Clinton Kelly, who is better known as a fashion expert as host of TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” and Carla Hall, a former “Top Chef” contestant who was easily the most dynamic of the trio. (Not present at TCA but also in the cast are Mario Batali and Michael Symon).
If ever there was an ABC show that needed to prove its potency, it’s “Chew,” which has the misfortune of being the first of two lifestyle shows ABC Daytime is rolling out in the coming months to replace soap operas “All My Children” and “One Life to Live.” That puts “Chew” square in the crosshairs of the millions in those soaps’ cult followings. The best way to convert some angry fans might have been to get some positive buzz going.
Instead, the “Chew” crew saw all the oxygen in the room get sucked up by Elliott, who gives new meaning to being a big personality (one of his legs seemed larger than Oz’s entire body). When your producer is a more compelling presence than your on-air talent, putting them together on the same stage only makes them look worse by comparison.