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Safer, Roker spice up Food Net

Hosts to make 'Legendary' specials, cabler bows tasty 2000 slate

Morley Safer and Al Roker have signed on to host more specials for Food Network, which announced Friday it will debut more than 1,000 hours of programming and more than 50 new specials in 2000.

Food Net is planning six more Safer-hosted episodes of “Legendary Hangouts,” which profiles hot restaurant spots and six to eight more Roker-hosted specials. In addition, the net has ordered more episodes of “TV Guide Celebrity Dish,” hosted by CBS News’ Mark McEwen.

The 46 million-subscriber cabler will roll out its lineup beginning in April with additional programs premiering in June. Other Food Net specials include “One Fat Lady, One Large Life,” which will pay tribute to the late Jennifer Paterson, co-host of “Two Fat Ladies”; and “From Martha’s Kitchen,” featuring decorating doyenne Martha Stewart.

New series include “Molto Mario,” a daily strip from acclaimed chef Mario Batali and “Food Nation With Bobby Flay,” a weekly half-hour program from the eponymous chef.

Food Net’s primetime ratings rose a whopping 33% in 1999 over the previous year. According to Food Net general manager Judy Girard, the net’s programming budget has risen 35%. The investment is apparently paying off. “This year the network will make significant money for the first time,” Girard said.

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