Celebrity chef Robert Irvine is setting aside his pots and pans for his latest TV series, a “Dr. Phil”-esque talk show from Tribune Studios to air on CW stations.
“The Robert Irvine Show” will take the place of “The Bill Cunningham Show” in the 3 p.m. Monday-Friday slot on Tribune-owned stations and other CW affiliates starting in September. The series will feature Irvine — known for hosting Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible” and for his regular appearances on foodie TV shows — dishing up tough-love advice and conflict resolution options for everyday people facing a range of problems.
John Irwin (“Couples/Family Therapy”) is exec producing “Robert Irvine” with Irvine and Andrew Scher (“The Doctors”). The series will originate in Los Angeles.
Irvine has spent 25 years building his profile as a culinary star, and he’s also known as a fitness buff. But he’s sought to expand his TV menu with a non-food series for the past several years. The talk show had been in development at Tribune for some time.
When Cunningham decided to end his five-year run in syndication with Tribune, picking up the Irvine show was a natural choice, according to Sean Compton, president of strategic programming and acquisitions for Tribune Media. Tribune through its affiliation pact with the CW has the right to program the 3 p.m. hour for the network’s affiliate stations. Tribune may also try to expand the show’s distribution in first-run syndication outside of the CW footprint.
“It’s really important for Tribune and for CW affiliates that (the 3 p.m. hour) has a great show,” Compton told Variety. “We had been talking to Robert for a long time and this opportunity seemed like a good chance to get him on the air sooner rather than later. We think people are going to respond to seeing a side of Robert outside the kitchen.”
Irvine’s “Restaurant: Impossible” typically features segments in which the host helps rudderless restaurateurs get their personal and professional lives back on track. The British chef who joined the Royal Navy at age 15 has also become a champion of military families, working with his Robert Irvine Foundation to help support service members and their families and raise public awareness about their needs. A mainstream talk show that is not hemmed in by a food focus is a logical extension of that work, Irvine said.
“Half the battle is making people understand what they’re doing wrong and how they can change their lives,” Irvine told Variety. “We can be entertaining without being demeaning. We want people to embrace the idea that these are not solutions to be jammed down their throat but that this is content that can help them change their lives.”
The specific format of the show is still being hammered out but it will be a mix of taped segments and in-studio interaction between Irvine and guests. Irwin said the goal was to “help individuals and families reach their full potential.”
“Robert Irvine” is set to begin production in mid-July. It’s not clear how the demands of the daily talk show will affect the future of “Restaurant: Impossible” or Irvine’s workload for Food Network.
“I’m working on different projects with Food Network right now but this is my priority,” Irvine said.
APA represents Irvine and packaged the series. Irwin is repped by WME.