Turmoil threatens future of OWN’s ‘Sweetie Pies’

Execs scramble to ease conflict with family, intervention occurred

Life is anything but sweet on the set of OWN’s docuseries “Welcome to Sweetie Pies,” where conflict between the family at the center of the show impacted the production crew and left the future of the series up in the air.

“Sweetie Pies” centers on Miss Robbie Montgomery, a former background singer for Ike and Tina Turner, and her family as they work at their franchise of soul food restaurants in St. Louis. Recent episodes have spotlighted familial issues, including Miss Robbie’s son, Tim Norman, and his rift with his fiance as they plan their wedding. Meanwhile, sources say problems had been simmering for weeks off camera between the family and production staff.

Tension reached a boiling point during taping of season two in October between Norman, the staff of his restaurant and the production crew of “Sweetie Pies.” Details of the situation remain hazy, but there have been numerous heated exchanges between Norman and the Pilgrim Studios crew.

OWN attributes the volatility to the pressure placed upon Norman as he runs three restaurants, balances his relationships and takes care of his child while filming a reality TV show. Norman could not be reached for comment. There’s no word from OWN as to whether the conflict with the crew will be integrated into the narrative of the show itself.

OWN saw the problems between Norman, the family and the production crew as so serious that the cabler sent network co-prexy Erik Logan to St. Louis to attempt to calm the situation. Insiders say Logan arrived on the “Sweetie Pies” set with a security detail.

Cabler also offered the “Sweetie Pies” family help from life coach Iyanla Vanzant, who has her own OWN series “Iyanla, Fix My Life” that airs after “Sweetie Pies” on Saturday nights. They agreed, and cameras were present at the family intervention with Vanzant. It will ultimately be up to the family whether the footage of the intervention will air or not.

“This is a real family struggling with very real issues,” OWN and Pilgrim Studios said in a statement. “We asked life coach Iyanla Vanzant to travel to St. Louis to support them through this difficult time. Out of respect for their privacy and wishes at this time, the outcome of their work together is confidential.”

Dramatic conflict on the set of an unscripted show is not uncommon as reality stars are often seen shoving cameras or entering rehab during the production of a show. For Norman and many other average folk thrust into the spotlight thanks to a reality skein, the demands of filming and being in the public eye, combined with managing their personal lives, often becomes too much to bear. Even Alana Thompson of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” fame on TLC appeared undisciplined on her recent broadcast press circuit, telling Dr. Drew during an interview on HLN that she doesn’t enjoy being on TV because “fans come up to me [on the street] and I hate it.”

“Sweetie Pies” has been one of the few ratings success stories for OWN, a joint venture between Discovery Networks and Oprah Winfrey, as the net continues to find its stride as a relatively fresh face on the cable lineup. Skein pulls strong numbers in femme demos, including just under 1 million viewers during its season two bow in September. “Sweetie Pies” incident, however, conflicts with the OWN’s overall tone as a network, since the cabler is often seen as the antidote to salacious reality television.

Because of the on-set drama, the future of “Sweetie Pies” is still unknown. Production had been wrapping on season two’s 12-episode order when conflict began to erupt, and a holiday hiatus had been planned for “Sweetie Pies” before taping resumed in January to continue the second season.

January’s season two continuation is now up in the air, though, due to the conflict between cast and crew. Some production members and staff have exited amid the turmoil since the status of their jobs is presently unknown. All exec producers, including showrunner Craig Piligian, remain on board the series.

“We are finishing post-production on the current episode order that will air through December 15,” OWN and Pilgrim’s statement continued. “Right now, we do not know how this will affect the ongoing production or air schedule for next year. Our number one priority is the health and well being of the family and crew. We are hopeful we can return to production soon.”

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  1. Wendy Davis says:

    I enjoy watching sweetie pie.. Whatever you do do not cancel. Its my favorite. If u cancel i would truly hurt.

  2. HAZEL BAYLOR says:

    I hope they won,t cancel theshow. last year for my birthday 3-23 16 ,ihad the pleasure of going to calif. to t.j,s sweetie pies and my fam. and I enjoyed some great food.so let,s hope as a fam. everything will work alright and the show will stay on the air.

  3. Celeste Harrison says:

    I love this show. I do not want to see it destroyed by disrespect from both Ms. Robbie and much more from Tim. I have admired Tim coming from a prison stay into working hard with his mother to get the restaurants going. Both of them seemed to work 7 days a week and just when things are really going good egos appeared. Working with family is difficult but impossible with egos.

    As for staff they all believe these restaurants belong to them and therefore they seem to think they should be able to run them the way they wish to do. Well listen people these entities belong to Tim and his Mother and nobody else.

    Chloe should have a restraining order against her to keep her at least 200 feet away from any of the restaurants until she has had at least one full year of therapy twice a week to teach her how to respect boundaries.

    But that is the only time the outside law should be brought in. Tim and his mother, both of whom I respect very much should be able to throw out their egos and get back to the original spirit they began with and the vision they both shared should be returned to them. They need to let that happen. Please do not destroy your success that you have worked so hard to obtain.

    Thank you.

  4. las says:

    who gives a $#$% about sweetie pies

  5. Sandy says:

    Welcome to Sweetie Pie started off as a really good show. I looked forward to watching this show each week. But omg, I cannot believe the level of disrespect and the insubordination. It seems every time Tim tries to put someone in place to manage the restaurant they are not welcomed and immediate the crew starts to sabotage. They are so belligerent until it is sickening to watch. NO teamwork at all. How can you sabotage your own family business with people that have no vested interest? Charles going along with a sick out to sabotage your own family business, Charles how immature can you be. Obviously no one get consequence for their actions and inappropriate behavior. OMG, really, someone needs to whip this place into order. If this was a place I was managing, this crew would have been gone. The managers who are supposed to lead the crew they are the main one that is causing chaos in the workplace. All this is because of jealousy. Go up! And I’m putting this as nicely as I can.

  6. Charles says:

    I can’t believe there are only 7 posts regarding the disappearance of this show, which I enjoyed immensely. Yes, it was primarily based upon opening new restaurants and looking into the private lives of the families but they knew this going in.

    Sweetie Pie’s: You have to give credit to the Own Network for your expansion. Remember this was a reality show and you did profit from placing your lives in the viewer’s interest. Mend your fences and agree to a come-back.

  7. gwen crenshaw says:

    I love me some ms Robbie ,Tim an eespecially the nephew! make me laugh an cry.miss u when heoff an so happy when you return. when is the tea coming to Louisville?♥

  8. Jacqueline Price says:

    My husband and I love “Welcome to Sweetie Pies” and look forward to Saturday nights. However, the welfare of the family and crew is by far the most important thing in life. Do not sacrifice the family. It is not worth the sacrifice. Take care and God Bless You All.

  9. Gwen McNeil says:

    I don’t like reality shows but i love welcome to sweetie pies. Keep up the great work.

  10. S.Hill says:

    I do not like Tim Girl friend Janae,she need to face reality. She is just like any other single mother,She has no claim to Tim ,just because she had a baby. She sounds like a fool when she state our family, there is no family,she is just a single woman with a baby.That is not a family. Janae grow up and stop playing house, Tim do not need your permission to hire an assistant, you are not his wife.All he have to do is take care of his son, not you ( Just His Son). Stop using your Son as a pawn with Tim and his Family. And you need to stop trying to run Ms Robbie business,after all it is a family affair. Grow up .

  11. I hope WELCOME TO SWEETIE PIE’S will be on soon again . I really love this show , I miss watching about the lives of Miss Robbie, and all of the family members . COME BACK MISS ROBBIE !

  12. Sweetie Pie’s is the most shallow, low-class and stupid bit of programming I’ve ever seen. More one- dimensional crap. The hostess needs to omit the pig noise in the latest 2015 CONSTANT, irritating marketing of her program. This is really trashy behavior.

  13. marty says:

    I think sweetie pies need to resume and continue its show

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