David Page, the creator but producer-no-more of the hit show "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," says he got bounced because of the host of the show, Guy Fieri.
Earlier this month, Page, a former network news producer who lives in Hamel and started Page Productions circa 2005, resolved his breach-of-contract lawsuit against the Food Network, which he had accused of trying to replace him and of making Fieri, the spiky-haired blond host, unavailable for the shootings.
Food Network countersued, claiming that Page had created an "intolerable" workplace, which it illustrated by disclosing some profanity-laced e-mails it said the producer sent subordinates. After the settlement, Page was out.
Having attended a party for the show and spent time with Page and Fieri while they were shooting, I've been extremely curious about what caused the breakup. Page was finally ready to talk late Friday.
"The reason I lost 'Diners, Drive-ins and Dives' is because of Guy Fieri," Page said. "As happens to many instant celebrities, he pretty quickly decided he no longer wanted to be produced or directed.
"Guy worked for more than a year to try to get the network to take the show away from me and give it to another production company, where presumably he would be in control. He wanted to be the person making all the decisions, even though the decisions I had been making created a remarkably successful show and had done wonders for his career."
Fieri did not disagree with that latter assessment when reached for comment, but he took no responsibility for Page's ouster.
"David Page has been very instrumental in how that whole show started. I've got to give him nothing but thanks for getting it going. David deserves a lot of respect for how it got started, what he showed me, and where we've gone," said Fieri. "David's a great guy and so is Roberta [Brackman, CEO of Page Productions, an attorney and Page's wife]. I think David's got big opportunities in front of him."
As for what prompted Page's ouster, Fieri said, "That wasn't my thing. That was a Food Network gig." And as for Page's claim that Fieri conspired with crew members to get another producer, Guy said, "You know, I don't really mean to cut you off on this, but this is not my area of expertise."
Fieri is a winner of "The Next Food Network Star" reality show, but Page's D-3 concept really launched Fieri, who now even has a non-food-related game show on NBC, "Minute To Win It." A co-owner of several California restaurants, Fieri also has had several Food Network shows, but he listed his current shows as "'Guy's Big Bites,' always my mainstay; 'Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,' still happening; 'Minute To Win It,' still happening; and a new show with Rachael Ray called 'Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off.'"
We had a very lengthy conversation and Fieri was affable and charming as usual. But Page said there's a less genial side of Guy.
Food Network's veep of communications and PR, Irika Slavin, said, "Guy Fieri is and always has been a consummate professional. We look forward to continuing our work with him. Our lawsuit with Page Productions has settled and we will have no further comment about it."
Page said that during the year when there was a behind-the-scenes campaign to get him booted, Fieri "was colluding with a few disloyal crew members and employees to ensure he could take the show elsewhere and still get it on the air."
"When the network told me they were taking my show away, [Food Network General Manager Bob] Tuschman told me Guy had demanded it," said Page. "After that, I learned of the collusion between crew members and Guy in making it happen. Three of the four e-mails that were quoted in the paper were part of a back-and-forth with those crew members about and after their disloyalty."
Page sounds really angry in those e-mails. "Of course, I was," he said. "They conspired to take away the most important creation of my career, not to mention future income from it."
But Page said his e-mail that stated "'This is not a Democracy' had nothing to do with 'Diners, Drive-ins and Dives' but was sent to the production crew of a completely different show, after they had repeatedly failed to follow my directions on how to re-cut a pilot. It contained one use of the f-word, which is not an unfamiliar word to anyone who has ever worked in television.
"The allegation of a hostile work environment was a convenient charge to throw, out of context, to cover up some remarkably disloyal behavior, after the fact."
Wonder how they knew?
Thanks to TMZ, I've seen a little too much of the romantic action during the Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries honeymoon.
Except for Humphries' being shirtless, there was not much skin. But there was definitely a little something-something going on in a patio lounge chair outside their suite in Italy.
Since I think Humphries is in it for love, he should ask himself why TMZ had no trouble getting video of them "canoodling," as the TV show called the session. This is the tame version, at www.startribune.com/a630, which does not include the more erotic take aired on the TV show.
C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen on Fox 9 Thursday mornings.