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Continued: C.J.: Guy Fieri takes one in the chops from critic

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 19, 2012 - 7:32 PM

Guy Fieri's former Twin Cities producer of "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives," David Page, rather enjoyed the New York Times restaurant review gutting Fieri's new Times Square eatery.

Page, creator of the TV show that launched Fieri's very successful broadcasting career, believes he was removed from the show in 2011 at Guy's request. The disagreement was ultimately resolved in the court system.

I called the incredibly well-connected Page, a man who never avoids bluntly sharing his opinions, to laughingly ask if he knew any New York Times dining critics.

"I've never met Mr. [Pete] Wells," Page told me Monday with a chuckle, "but he's clearly a discerning and sophisticated writer."

Page has not been to Guy's American Kitchen and Bar in NYC. After swapping lawsuits that severed their ties, I doubt the Page Productions exec would ever set foot in any property owned by Fieri, who has many successful restaurants.

"I've been to one of Guy's restaurants in California when we were shooting a special there. I ordered a panini but asked them if they could swap out the turkey for beef, and they said they couldn't because the sandwich came pre-made with the grill marks already pressed into them. So I wasn't totally surprised by what Mr. Wells found.

"The key to the review, in my mind, is that Mr. Wells was not attacking the concept of the kind of food you see in diners. He was attacking what he thought was Guy's hypocrisy in championing homemade food, classic American road food, and presenting what Mr. Wells thought was garbage on a plate."

In keeping with the spirit of Wells' critique, Page should have said Donkey Sauce on a plate, as one of the questions in the review that went viral was: "when we hear the words Donkey Sauce, which part of the donkey are we supposed to think about?"

Page told me he did not discuss the allegedly pre-made panini with Fieri. "Not a good idea to tell Guy something he doesn't want to hear," said Page, who recalled being charged for the panini. I sought a comment from Fieri about the panini incident via Twitter. So far no answer.

On NBC's "Today Show," Fieri -- who flew from California to New York to do media in the wake of the searing review -- called the critique "ridiculous" and said, "To me it went so overboard it really seemed like he has another agenda."

Sunday on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Howard Kurtz said, "The review was pretty vicious, no question about it. But newspapers have a right to do it, and sometimes restaurant owners, even the famous ones, have to swallow it."

FBI agent, clad

Pleased to report that Minneapolis FBI agent Chris Golomb was wearing a shirt Saturday at the "sneak peek fete" for Union, the rooftop restaurant in downtown Minneapolis.

With shirtless FBI agent Fred Humphries being in hot water for sending what obviously looks like a gag e-mail photo, it's probably going to be difficult to find a shirtless FBI agent even when the agents are on beach vacations with their families.

Humphries is the agent and friend to whom Tampa's Jill Kelley turned when she started receiving hostile anonymous e-mails recommending she keep away from ex-CIA Director David Petraeus. An FBI investigation determined the hateful e-mail was coming from Gen. Petraeus' biographer-turned-mistress, Paula Broadwell, a North Dakota native. (Check out ABC News video of Broadwell ushering her husband, Dr. Scott Broadwell, away from the pesky reporters wanting to ask questions as the Broadwells returned to their North Carolina home over the weekend [www.startribune.com/a1901]. Paula hustled Scott, who paused as if he was about to answer questions, away as though she still has all the power in that relationship, despite her dalliance with Petraeus. But I digress.)

Golomb appeared to be having a law-abiding evening at the big bash, wearing his shirt ... tie ... suit ... Oh yeah, and there was a woman on his lap. But she was his wife.

Supremes debated

A full-on Diana Ross debate erupted at Saturday's private opening for Union.

Attorney Aklilu Dunlap has apparently been waiting for the day when our paths would cross so he could vigorously complain to me about something I wrote about Ross in 2004! That was the year that Ross was the celebrity featured on the Christmas card of FOX 9 contributor Todd Walker. I noted her yellowish teeth -- which still surprise me, because Ross clearly cares how she looks or she wouldn't spend so much time on her hair before grocery shopping. Unless there's a health problem, why not whiten the choppers, one of the easiest ways to freshen up a face?

"Diana Ross is an unspoken feminist. Because of her business prowess, she put a lot of people to work. You know, she's a good business person," said Dunlap as his friends Joseph McGreevy and Jean Williams watched us jaw.

Was the way Ross reportedly mistreated the late Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson, turning them into disgruntled colleagues, being a good business person? And for all of her musical success, Ross had a super thin voice that lacked the elasticity required to age well.

"Diana could convey the meaning of a song a lot more convincingly than that hooven Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, excuse me," said Dunlap. "How many Mary Wilson concerts have you attended?"

Why shouldn't Ballard and Wilson have been resentful of Ross, who was getting favored treatment because she was carrying on with Berry Gordy, father of Diana's first born?

"I don't know about those things," said Dunlap, who only knows the flattering details of Ross -- a woman he said he'd marry if she asked.

I'm a recovered Diana Ross fan -- I once adored her.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. 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.

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