Elijah Wood to host Food Network Cooking Show
August 25, 2002
divisiontwo staff writer
The Food Network announced today it will begin weekly broadcasts of a new program entitled "Elijah's Goods" in November. The series will be a departure from previous Food Network shows, as the host will be a famous movie star and the focus will be less on preparation of recipes and more on overall presentation. The pilot, filmed last July, was a big hit with teen focus groups, a demographic the Food Network has been salivating over since its 1995 inception.
"Today's teenagers don't want to watch an old British lady or flamboyant chef prepare an elaborate gourmet recipe that takes three hours and feeds fifteen," said network TV analyst Joanna Briggs, "Teens want exactly what 'Elijah's Goods' will offer, namely a popular young movie star in disturbing costume interacting suggestively with consumer items and baked goods for thirty minutes every Saturday evening. It was the next logical step."
Scene from "Elijah's Goods", courtesy Food Network
"They want a Food Network show that highlights quick and delicious consumables they know and recognize, like cupcakes and frozen pizzas, framed in a post-modern setting that is both frightening and provocative," explained Food Network marketing director Jeffrey Studer. He admitted, "It's hard to attract modern teens to a show about food without big-name star power and the type of irony that leaves anyone over 30 scratching their head in confusion."
Jon de Lyon, director and executive producer of the series, says "Elijah's Goods" will feature relatively little dialog, and will instead focus on visual and aural forms of storytelling to convey the show's message. "In 'Elijah's Goods', the camera acts as a disembodied spirit that swirls around Elijah as he travels through a dystopic dreamworld where common food items are symbolic of sex and power, and pallid, eyeless humanoid characters are soulless cogs in a gigantic nightmarish machine," he told divisiontwo.
"Elijah's Goods" will air for 30 minutes completely commercial-free, as the show is entirely sponsored by paid product placement within the program itself. One of the paid spots in the pilot episode is a scene in which Elijah, dressed as a rotting Mary Poppins, hand-feeds Triscuit mini pizzas to blindfolded school children inside a classroom slowly filling with water. The pilot episode also includes a scene in which a golden retriever licks Jello Instant Pudding from the bare feet of a writhing, giggling Elijah.
"This is an exciting series," reads the network's promotional material for the show, "one which will challenge the boundaries of television and product placement, and do for food what MTV did for music."
Critics for the most part don't know what to make of the series, which is often a good sign. "I watched the first ten minutes of 'Elijah's Goods' and I couldn't drive for three days," writes one, while another states, "this series is so indecipherable it makes the Dead Sea Scrolls read like a children's book." The latter comment is likely in reference to a scene in the pilot where Elijah covers a lunchmeat version of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Heinz Ketchup, wraps them around his naked torso and soars across the New York City skyline.
Hit or miss, the food network hopes its new gamble will pay off by creating a buzz that attracts teenagers and college students underserved by the major networks' Saturday primetime offerings, such as Touched By An Angel and Walker, Texas Ranger. Divisiontwo's man-on-the-street reporter Cal Sindel was lucky enough to attend a screening of the pilot episode, and gave it high marks. "There's nothing for drunk and stoned kids to watch on Saturday night until MadTV comes on at eleven," he noted, "and 'Elijah' fills that void better than anything else I can see on the Fall schedule."
"Elijah's Goods" has been given a TV-14 rating by an independent review board, and will carry a disclaimer at the beginning which states it should not be watched by anyone with a history of epilepsy or mental illness, as the show was a possible contributing factor to the seizures and permanent psychosis suffered by two focus group participants. The Food Network is downplaying both incidents, claiming that two cases of neurological injury are not beyond the threshold of acceptability for a show that was screened in front of more than 300 people.
"It shouldn't be a problem", Studer said, "but we'll conduct a review after six episodes to make sure. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of the victims, and as part of the settlement each household will be receiving generous coupon books containing special offers from our sponsors."
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