PASADENA, Calif.--Press tour was turned into one big, fat, sloppy episode of Hell's Kitchen today. Chef Gordon Ramsay was in the house, and he had critics up on their feet beating egg whites instead of deadlines.
Somebody had the bright idea to distribute cooking pans, whisks and tubs full of egg whites, sugar and syrup on trays all over the Langham hotel banquet room this afternoon so that reporters to try their hand at preparing Baked Alaska. Ramsay demonstrated and had his bowl white and frosty in seconds; many of us never got it past the soup stage.
It all might have been some savvy plot to get critics to close their laptops and ibooks. The slop was flying everywhere, and there's nothing worse than a sticky keyboard when you're on a deadline. TV Guide.ca editor Amber Dowling managed to whip her egg whites into a frothy peak, as did the Toronto Sun's Bill Harris (although I'm pretty sure he cheated). Both got their treats torched by the master chef.
Ramsay led a lively and fun session. "Where the hell did you get that shirt?" he hassled one reporter in a Hawaiian number (shades of David Bianculli). "If you're cooking is as bad as your dress sense, we're fucked."
He was at press tour to promote his third Fox series, Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live, which sounds sorta like the old Galloping Gourmet show with Graham Kerr (ask your parents). Ramsay aims to help regular folks whip together meals in minutes; let's hope viewers are better at whisking than TV critics were today.
As energetic, funny and delightful as Ramsay was, no amount of whisking could have gotten Wanda Sykes to rise to this occasion. Her press tour session, promoting her Saturday night talk show coming this fall to Fox, was one big yawn. Many of her answers were spat out in three or four word sound bites. That's going to lead to a lot of dead air once her talk show rolls around.
It can't be any worse than one of Fox's first attempt to crack the late night scene: The Chevy Chase Show. That turkey lasted five weeks back in the early '90s as Chase himself reminded critics the other night at the NBC press tour party. The former Saturday Night Live player stars in the new NBC sitcom Community. He was relaxed and charming at the NBC affair, telling stories about the talk show bomb as well as his weekly card games back in the day with the likes of Johnny Carson, Steve Martin and Neil Simon. Now that would have been one hell of a late night talk show.
Here's one little Canadian tid bit he shared with colleagues Eric Kohanik and Winnipeg Free Press critic Brad Oswald: Chase was into camping as a teenager and worked at least one summer as a camp counsellor up in Muskoka. Who knew?