By Emily Blatta on Sept. 17th 2014
Working alongside celebrity host and chef Gordon Ramsay can get pretty hot.
Arthur Smith, executive producer of Hell’s Kitchen and Ryerson radio and television arts grad, is back for the show’s 13th season premiere.
“We knew we had something special when we started,” said Smith. “Hell’s Kitchen is unlike any other reality series.”
The show is a reality TV cooking competition set up in an intense culinary academy run by Gordon Ramsay.
The Emmy-nominated show first aired in 2005, and has since been considered one of the most popular cooking shows on TV.
While some reality shows might seem unrealistic, Smith said that Hell’s Kitchen is always natural and never scripted. “The contestants are authentic; we get real chefs and real people.”
After launching his career at CBC sports and producing three Olympic games, he went on to work with Dick Clark Productions and FOX Sports.
In 2000, Smith and his friend Kent Weed started their own production company, A. Smith & Co. Productions, now one of the leading production titles in North America, bringing Hell’s Kitchen to the top.
“I knew I wanted to work in the entertainment industry, and Ryerson gave me the confidence I needed,” Smith said. “[Ryerson] was an opportunity to experiment”, said Smith, who continues is test out new ideas in the show. After 13 seasons of Hell’s Kitchen, he said the most important thing is to “keep trying to re-invent.”
For prospective students looking to break into the industry, Smith offered a piece of advice, “Take the best guess of what you want to do and focus on it.” Smith said that many kids will take any job, but it’s imperative to set goals and stick to them.
“But a good show is like a good meal,” he said, “You have to have all the right ingredients.”
Joe Weinstock, formerly of Discovery Channel, will join reality production powerhouse A. Smith & Co. Productions as senior vice president of development. In his new position with the company, Joe will play a critical role in developing the company slate while cultivating new formats under the A. Smith & Co. banner.
A veteran of creating unscripted entertainment for independent production companies and networks alike, Weinstock will bring his years of experience to bear in developing reality hits that A. Smith & Co. Productions is known for.
“Joe is a proven executive with an exemplary history of creating hit shows across multiple genres,” said Arthur Smith, CEO of A. Smith & Co. Productions. “With numerous new projects in development for a spectrum of networks, we are very proud to have Joe join our team at one of the most prolific times in company history.”
In his role at A. Smith & Co., Weinstock will play in integral role in the development of both existing and future A. Smith & Co. programming across broadcast and cable. Prior to joining the company, Weinstock was senior director of development and an executive producer at Discovery Channel, where he oversaw and/or developed a slate including “Porter Ridge,” “Game of Stones,” “Kodiak,” “Bluegrass Boys,” and “Highway to Sell.” Before joining Discovery, Joe was vice president of production at Gurney Productions, where he worked as co-executive producer on a robust slate that included "Auction Hunters," "Duck Dynasty," "Hollywood Treasure," "Monster Man," "American Guns," "American Digger," “Haunted Collector,” and several shows for the fan favorite “Shark Week.” Prior to Gurney, Weinstock was senior director of original series for Spike. As a key member of the development team there, Weinstock worked as both executive in charge of production and producer on “Auction Hunters," "Jesse James is a Dead Man," "Deadliest Warrior," "Manswers," "Pros vs. Joes," "DEA," "1000 Ways to Die,” and the pilot of “Bar Rescue.”
Weinstock joins A. Smith & Co. during one of the most dynamic times in company history, as the company is currently developing more than 20 projects across both broadcast and cable. Projects in development include the recently announced project for HGTV, “Ellen’s Design Challenge,” which is being produced in conjunction with daytime TV personality Ellen DeGeneres. Currently, A. Smith & Co. series are performing exceptionally for their respective networks, with the broadcast stalwart “Hell’s Kitchen” returning for a thirteenth season on Fox September 10th, “Wizard Wars,” a new magic competition series that features famed magicians Penn & Teller premiering on Syfy, and “American Ninja Warrior” – fresh off a renewal for a seventh season – topping broadcast ratings every Monday evening on NBC. In addition to the company’s broadcast programming, the cable darling “Unsung” just received renewal for a ninth season on TV One, and now holds the distinction of being the longest-running show on the network.
Los Angeles, Calif. – August 20, 2014 – Reality production powerhouse A. Smith & Co. Productions today promoted long-time staffers Katie Hash to vice president of development, and Steve Miller to head of creative services.
Combined, the two have spent over two decades working within film and reality formats, and will continue to drive the company forward to further develop and hone the programming that A. Smith & Co. Productions is well known for.
“During their time here, both Katie and Steve have continually demonstrated their passion for creating quality programming that keeps our audiences coming back for more,” said Arthur Smith, CEO of A. Smith & Co. Productions. “We’re proud to recognize their achievements with expanded roles and increased responsibility, and look forward to their continued success at the company for years to come.”
In her previous role of Director of Development, Katie managed the development pipeline at A. Smith & Co., developing new show concepts, managing the thousands of pitches that come through A. Smith & Co. on an annual basis, as well as working closely with more than 40 different networks that the company maintains close-knit relationships with. Over the course of her tenure, Hash has been directly responsible for the development of several A. Smith & Co. programs, including “Wizard Wars” (Syfy) and “Monster Survival Guide” (NatGeo), as well as a handful of other development and casting deals currently in negotiation at a number of cable networks.
As head of creative services, Miller is responsible for creating sizzle tapes and reels for A. Smith & Co. shows, as well as directing the graphics department and working in tandem with the development team. Previous to his role at A. Smith & Co., Miller worked as director of on air promotion at Fox Movie Channel, where he oversaw the restructuring and creation of the on air promo department, while guiding the creative launch and look of the new network. Before Fox, Miller served as executive vice president of audio visual at Intralink Film, where he was the head of the audio visual department and responsible for the production of theatrical trailers, television spots, and company campaigns, with films such as “Star Trek,” “The Book of Eli,” and “Angels & Demons.” Prior to Intralink, Miller was executive vice president at New Line Cinema and MGM/United Artists, respectively.
About A. Smith & Co. Productions
A. Smith & Co. Productions creates some of the most innovative, highly rated and high-quality programming for the domestic and international television marketplace. The company has produced more than 2,000 hours of award-winning programming. Current productions include such hits as ”Hell’s Kitchen,” “Kitchen Nightmares,” “American Ninja Warrior,” “Ellen’s Design Challenge,” “Unsung,” “Full Throttle Saloon,” “Celebrity Crime Files,” “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura,” “Too Young to Marry?,” “Save Our Business,” “UFC Countdown,” “Joe Rogan Questions Everything,” “Divorce Hotel” and many others. A. Smith & Co.’s library of programming includes hit shows such as “Paradise Hotel,” “I Survived a Japanese Game Show,” “The Swan,” “Trading Spaces,” “Pros vs. Joes” and “Skating with Celebrities.” A. Smith & Co. has developed and produced the No. 1 show in America 25 times and a Top 10 show more than 200 times, producing programs with budgets totaling approximately one billion dollars for more than 42 broadcast and cable networks.
Contact: Brad Stapleton
Beck Media & Marketing
Written By Sara Bibel
August 20th, 2014
TV ONE DOCU-SERIES CELEBRITY CRIME FILES KICKS OFF THIRD SEASON WITH NEW NARRATOR ICE-T ON MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 10:00 PM/ET
--Ten-Episode Series Explores Controversial Celebrity Crimes Involving: Chris Lighty, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson Jr.,Ray Nagin, Shakir “Shake” Stewart, Medgar Evers, Huey P. Newton, Riddick Bowe, Ray Nagin and More--
August 20, 2014 – Silver Spring, MD – TV One, which entertains, informs and inspires Black adult viewers, today announced that its popular investigative docu-series Celebrity Crime Files returns for a riveting third season Monday, September 8 at 10 PM/ET. This season, acclaimed rapper and actor Ice-T joins the show as narrator. In its most captivating episodes yet, CelebrityCrime Files delves into the scandals, misdeeds and mysterious deaths of prominent politicians, athletes, athletes, entertainers, executives and civil rights activists.
“Ice-T’s iconic voice has catapulted him to an internationally recognized performer and actor,” said D’Angela Proctor, SVP of Programming and Production for TV One. “This season, his voice will lend a deeper look at crimes and indiscretions of public figures from this decade and decades past, while also showing a side of history that is rarely explored in the books.”
The series is produced for TV One by A. Smith and Co. Productions. Executive Producers for the series are Arthur Smith, Frank Sinton and Anthony Storm. Lamar Chase serves as Producer for the network. Executive In Charge of production for TV One is Robyn Greene Arrington.
By Amanda Kondolojy
18 Aspiring Chefs Vie For a Head Chef Position at a Gordon Ramsay Restaurant
Host, executive producer and award-winning chef Gordon Ramsay fires up a brand-new season of HELL’S KITCHEN with a special, two-hour Season 13 premiere airing Wednesday, Sept. 10 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Once again, 18 new chefs from all walks of life will be tested like never before as Chef Ramsay puts them through a series of grueling team challenges and dinner services to prove they possess the passion, culinary ability and determination to win a life-changing grand prize: a Head Chef position at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, a total prize value of $250,000. Season 13 also will feature the milestone 200th episode of HELL’S KITCHEN.
Click below to watch/share the opening to HELL’S KITCHEN’s most explosive season yet:
YouTube link: http://youtu.be/60TyKJrlE3E
In the first hour of the premiere episode (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT), Chef Ramsay extends star treatment to the newest batch of contestants when they arrive in Hollywood for a silver screen experience. But the Hollywood ending is cut short when Ramsay splits the chefs into two teams – men (Blue) vs. women (Red) – and asks them to present their signature dishes in front of a live audience. Later, the chefs struggle to work together during their first dinner service, and one team’s performance is so disappointing that Chef Ramsay forces them to leave the kitchen.
In the second hour (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), the Red and Blue teams will go head-to-head and dig as many Geoduck clams out of intricate sand sculptures and then recreate Ramsay’s Geoduck sashimi. The team that creates 15 perfect dishes will soak up the sun on a luxury yacht with Chef Ramsay, while the losing team will clean up the sand and prepare the Geoduck nigiri and chowder for dinner service. At the end of another fiery dinner service, one more chef will be sent home.
Throughout the season, the contestants will face grueling challenges, including serving a speed brunch for a culinary graduation, impressing an ultra-exclusive club with special guest judges and preparing delicious dishes for “glampers” at a nearby campsite. Also, the dinner services will be more star-studded than ever with celebrities dining at HELL’S KITCHEN, including legendary rock musician Steven Tyler of Aerosmith; talk show host Wendy Williams; NBA Champion Chris Bosh; Olympic gold medalist sprinter Allyson Felix; comedian Penn Jillette, actor Lou Diamond-Phillips and So You Think You CanDance judges Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe. As the competition progresses, the number of contestants will be narrowed down until only two chefs are left to compete for the HELL’S KITCHEN title.
By Chris Pursell
It’s been the summer of the Warrior, with NBC/Esquire Network’s sports entertainment franchise American Ninja Warrior continuing to cement itself as a summer staple from A. Smith & Co. The series recently got another renewal from NBC, and has been a stalwart on Monday nights as several athletes have gone viral with their mastery and failures on the course. Now, the company is looking to continue its success in sports entertainment, bringing back American Gladiators with a modern update. Meanwhile, American Ninja Warrior will present the Las Vegas Finals where competitors lay it all on the line for the $500,000 on Aug. 11 at 9p.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Kent Weed, President of A. Smith & Co. about the success of the show, digital extensions and the future of the series. Weed on the success of the show: I think the difference between this format and other shows is the stories of the athletes. They are relatable to the audience because anybody could do this, whether they are male, female, athlete, non-athletes, you feel like you could do this. They love the opportunity of doing something that is both unique and challenging. That is something else that is different about our show, you could be the best athlete in the world, or you could be someone who has lost 200 pounds to try to do this. Audiences find that inspiring. On digital strategy: Digital strategy is a new strategy. Up until recently, we’ve found it very difficult to make sense and to make money doing it. So, we’ve tried to strategize in a way that allows us to make money. In the last couple of years, it didn’t make sense. It was a new platform, kind of like cable 20 years ago when nobody was making any money. Our margins just weren’t big enough. But now, it is starting to trend towards less about making money initially and more about making money in the long term. What we are doing is looking at ways to do this as well so it makes sense of r the audience and they get to watch something that is valuable to them. So we are constantly trying to evaluate so it is value-added entertainment or whether it is special and unique. On the future: I think what you can expect moving forward is for people to complete the course. This is the only show that doesn’t have a winner! Yet it is still engrossing, fantastic to watch. Audiences are looking for a winner. We are also always thinking about what we are going to do next. The network is going to challenge us as well to create that. Once someone completes the course, we will make the courses harder. We challenge ourselves to make sure that we make it more difficult. Once you achieve this, can you do this? What’s interesting that we found this year is that a lot of competitors have built their own courses in their backyards. There is a huge, grassroots following for this. We are getting constantly challenged to beat them at their own game. They are looking to figure it out. Anytime something is new, it is challenging to the competitors, but they learn fast. On the athletes: They are getting stronger, they are more talented and they are smarter. The most interesting thing I think is that, as good as they are, when you compete, it is night and day compared to doing a course in your backyard. It is one thing to be really good in practice and anther to be good in the game. On finding franchises: We love sports, and sports entertainment is where we are centering a lot of programming. We are getting ready to do another huge franchise in American Gladiators, which is a brand we have the rights to with MGM. We believe in it and we believe in sports. Sports does well, it is an event situation. Sports entertainment can follow that, and I think that’s why American Ninja Warrior does well.
By: R. Thomas Umstead
TV One will return its docu-music series Unsung on July 30 with 10 new episodes, according to network officials. The series, which profiles R&B stars that were stars but never received superstar status, will feature in its upcoming new episodes such performers as Montell Jordon, Hi Five, The Emotions, Martha Wash, Troop, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Wilson Pickett, The Chi-Lites, Peaches & Herb and Rick James, said network officials. “As an intimate portrait of the lives of some of music’s most captivating artist, Unsung remains a celebration of their impact on both the recording industry and culture alike,” said D’Angela Proctor, senior vice president of Programming and Production for TV One. “By illuminating the stories of trials and triumphs in the upcoming slate, the legend of these iconic musicians will be sure to grow within the hearts and memories of our audience.”
by Lesley Goldberg
The network used its session in front of reporters at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour to announce additional season renewals for American Ninja Warrior, Last Comic Standing and America's Got Talent. As for the future of Hollywood Game Night, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said the network is already in production on additional episodes of the series, which runs on a different schedule than its summer unscripted fare.
The series have been solid performers this summer for the network as it looks to unscripted fare and inexpensive scripted co-productions to keep the lights on in the typically lower-rated viewing months.
"The renewal of these three series is evidence that we continue to hit our stride in delivering quality entertainment to a broad viewership,” said Paul Telegdy, president of alternative and late night at NBC Entertainment. “All of the hardworking talented people on these shows — both behind and in front of the camera — should feel very proud of their achievements.”
American Ninja Warrior has been a standout on Mondays, recently besting CBS' summer hit Under the Dome in the demographic in head-to-head competition. The A. Smith and Co.-produced series, which this season saw multiple women conquer the famed Warped Wall, will be back for its sixth season.
Last Comic Standing, revived for an eighth season, returned with host JB Smoove and judges Roseanne Barr, Keenen Ivory Wayans and Russell Peters. The Wanda Sykes-produced revival returned on par with its last outing four years ago thanks to a steady lead-in from Hollywood Game Night. It will return next summer for season nine.
America's Got Talent has been a cornerstone of NBC's summer schedule for nine seasons. The reality competition show, hosted by Nick Cannon and featuring judges Howard Stern, Melanie Brown, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel, has regularly ranked as summer's No. 1 series. The veteran series also recently bested ABC's big swing singing competition Rising Star in the latter's series debut with a special Sunday broadcast.
Unscripted fare is one of multiple strategies the broadcast networks have used to program in the summer. CBS helped change that game last summer with its Steven Spielberg-produced adaptation of Stephen King's Under the Dome.
by Michael Schneider
In reality TV, popular formats never really die — think the frequently revived Candid Camera — they just go into hibernation. Next to awaken is American Gladiators.
Executive producer Arthur Smith (Hell's Kitchen), who has turned the competition series American Ninja Warrior into a summer smash for NBC, is giving the 1990s syndicated hit (briefly brought back in 2008 by NBC) a modern makeover.
"It's a little darker, more intense, more serious," says Smith, who's producing the show through his A. Smith & Co. banner with MGM. "It's a little less red, white and blue. And there's no spandex. Spandex has left the building."
American Gladiators originally aired from 1989 to 1996 and featured amateur men and women as they competed against each other as well as the show's "Gladiators," who had names like "Nitro," "Laser," "Zap" and "Ice." The show spawned several international adaptations.
In a nod to modern times, Smith says the new American Gladiators will incorporate elements inspired by the popularity of both The Hunger Games and mixed martial arts. "Times have changed," he says. "This one is tonally different. It's more post-apocalyptic. But it's the same spirit."
Smith says he's been developing his Gladiators reboot for the past seven months and will shop it to broadcast and cable networks in the coming weeks. "I feel Gladiators is a big, broad family show," Smith says. "I've always been a big fan of the show." Smith says he isn't concerned that the NBC revival didn't last long. "Six years ago is eons ago," he says. "But what we're planning is a much bigger different from the original, and much different from the NBC show."
Casting will get under way after it lands a home; he's also waiting to tailor Gladiators to its eventual network partner.
But the overarching theme of the show is still David vs. Goliath-style battles. "There's no show in this world that embodies that spirit more than Gladiators," he says. "It's too great an idea not to grab."
By LISA DE MORAES
Ratings Rat Race: NBC Rules With ‘American Ninja Warrior’
NBC was No. 1 for the night in the demo among broadcaster, thanks to American Ninja Warrior, which climbed 13% week to week (1.8 compared to 1.6 rating) and 17% in total viewers (5.5 million vs. 4.7 mil). The 5.453 million in total viewers is a season high for a regular Ninja and best since a special USA vs. Japan telecast on January 13 (5.537 million). In its second hour, Ninja finished ahead of CBS’ Under The Dome recap (0.8/3, 4.34 million viewers), which finished last in its time slot, and ABC’s Mistresses original episode (1.0/3, 3.66 million). NBC noted its Detroit affiliate pre-empted NBC programming for a fireworks special that could impact these prelim stats, particularly in this 10 PM hour.
By Daniel Holloway
Primetime Ratings: NBC, ‘American Ninja Warrior’ Top Night
NBC’s American Ninja Warrior drew a 1.8 rating among adults 18-49 Monday night, up 13% from last week, making it the evening’s top-rated broadcast network. NBC was the night’s top broadcaster, averaging a 1.6 rating and 5 share.
By Tony Maglio
Ratings: Ninjas Fend Off Jack Bauer, Gordon Ramsey
NBC edged out Fox to finish first in ratings on Monday, thanks to added strength for “American Ninja Warrior.”
By Rick Kissell
NBC’s ‘American Ninja Warrior,’ Fox’s ‘MasterChef’ Top Monday
NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” and Fox’s “MasterChef” were in a tight battle as Monday’s top-rated program among young adults while ABC’s “The Bachelorette” was again tops in total viewers, but is down in demos from last summer.