The TCA panel for ABC’s new daytime series “The Chew” had the potential to be both tense and informative. ABC Daytime President Brian Frons, who decided to replace the network’s long-running soaps “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” with the food-oriented talk show, was listed as a panelist. A room full of journalists was prepared to ask him tough questions about the cancellations, the last-minute deal to move the two soaps to the Internet, and whether he had any second thoughts about ending “One Life to Live” in light of the show’s recent ratings growth. Instead, Frons gave a brief description of the show’s premise, saying that “We learned a lot from the success of ‘The View.’ We learned about our viewers wanting an upbeat tone, entertainment, relevance, information they can use, and a wide range of opinions. This show delivers that in the world of food, which has become the center of everyone’s life.” He then introduced the hosts and executive producer of “The Chew,” Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly and Daphne Oz and Gordon Elliot, and left the stage. The panel was not going to be an interrogation after all.
Elliot and the hosts discussed the show’s tone (light and fun) and potential topics (healthy grocery shopping, school gardens, cooking quick meals, segments on special occasion meals). Elliot explained the show’s genesis. “Brian Frons came to my office and said ‘We would love to do a show based on lifestyle based on the successful format of ‘The View.’” He claimed the show’s much mocked title came from the same conversation. “‘The View,’ ‘The Chew’ – the whole thing took about thirty seconds.”
They also fielded several questions about how taking over “All My Children’s” timeslot might impact the show’s performance. Elliot said, “We hope that [soap fans] will enjoy our show. We were asked to come join the daytime line-up because the daytime audience has changed. I’m delighted that the soap opera fans now have the option to watch the soaps online… We would love soap fans to share a little bit with us. Now that they’re online they can watch On Demand. They can have their cake and eat it too. No pun intended.”
Kelly added, “I also think a lot of the reason people tune into soaps is that they feel the cast of people are their friends. I think that what we can offer is a group of people who are friends.”
When asked about the soap fans who have vowed to boycott the show, Elliot said “I understand how those viewers feel. I enjoyed those soaps for years, too. We got them in Australia when I was a kid. But I don’t control the process that made that decision. I was greatly relieved that the shows moved online… If they don’t like it, I can’t control that.”
Elliot was also asked if he considered hiring an ABC soap star, like Susan Lucci, to co-host the series. Elliot was enthusiastic about the idea, saying, “Wouldn’t that be fun? She’s Italian. She could bring on a lasagna.”