British TV chef Jamie Oliver, who became misty last March over the wretched state of U.S. school lunches during season one of his ABC series Food Revolution, will not have a chance to shed fresh tears in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles. Administrators in the L.A. Unified School District have barred Oliver’s film crews from setting foot in any of their schools.
Robert Alaniz, a spokesman for the district, which is the nation’s second largest, is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as having explained:
Reality TV has a formula. You either have to have drama or create conflict to be successful. We’re not interested in either.
It sounds as though Alaniz may have caught the series pilot, in which the cockney cook alienated the kitchen staff of one Huntington, West Virginia, school, by adopting a holier-than-thou attitude. Then again, it may not have been Oliver’s self-righteous tone that turned off the powers that be in the L.A. school district but rather the irony of the chef’s checkered television past. How serious should one take nutritional guidance from a man whose previous series include Jamie Saves Our Bacon, lamenting the disappearance of fat-rich pigs?
Or maybe it was Oliver’s larger-than-life ego, which Baylen Linnekin at Reason.com sums up as follows:
Oliver appears to believe there is something deeply wrong with those who don’t dine in his restaurants, buy his publications, watch his TV shows, or think of food as he does. To him, this deficit of character is so egregious and so widespread that only hugely expensive government re-education programs can rectify it.
According to People magazine, Oliver is hoping that parents will rally behind his cause to save American children from the fate of school lunch. It was toward this end that he opened Jamie’s Kitchen in Westwood, an L.A. suburb, to provide a food-centric community center. People quotes Oliver as saying:
Really, my job is trying to inspire people, trying to educate people, but also get them to have clear opinions about stuff, and stir up a little bit of trouble where some of the bad guys are getting away with murder.
In which case, chalk this round up to the “bad guys.”
- Critic’s Notebook: TV chef Jamie Oliver’s public meltdown; read the fine print on “deals of the day”
Click Subscribe at the top of the page to have my articles sent directly to your e-mail inbox. Follow me on Twitter or join me at Facebook. You can reach me at [email protected] or by posting a comment below.