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On Location: LAUSD puts celebrity chef Jamie Oliver on no-film diet

British chef Jamie Oliver's food revolution is giving LAUSD officials a case of indigestion.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has suspended all filming of reality TV shows in district schools after a standoff with the celebrity chef, who had been filming his ABC show "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" at West Adams Preparatory High School in South Los Angeles for the last two weeks.

This week the district denied Oliver's license to film at another school, Manual Arts Senior High School, which, like West Adams, is operated by MLA Partners Schools, an organization that runs schools in South L.A. under a performance contract with LAUSD.

A person close to the production said that district Supt. Ramon Cortines would approve the permit for Oliver's show only if he could guarantee that he knew everything about the production and that it would paint the district in a postive light.

A spokesman for FilmL.A. Inc, the nonprofit group that handles film permits for the LAUSD, said the district's action was prompted not by any specific complaints regarding Oliver's show but by a concern that such reality TV programs can be disruptive to students.

"Yesterday the district decided that having unscripted reality shoots while classes were still in session was probably not the best idea,'' said FilmL.A. spokesman Todd Lindgren. "Reality programming is unpredictable, and the district decided that it was better to restrict that kind of programming."

“If you look at the last series he [Oliver] did in Huntington, W.Va., it was full of conflict and drama, and we’re not interest in that,’’ LAUSD spokesman Robert Alaniz said.

He said district officials were concerned that Oliver’s show would not fairly reflect steps LAUSD has taken to improve its menus, such as banning junk food and sodas.  “Our guidelines are certainly way above the USDA guidelines,"  he said, adding the district remained opening to working with the chef.

Oliver, who has championed the cause of promoting healthier eating in schools in Britain and now America, recently moved to Los Angeles and is filming the second season of ABC's "Food Revolution."  He has been trying for months to gain entry into the country's second-largest school system, but he has received a cold reception from district officials.

Oliver was not available for comment. But a spokeswoman for the show said the production would continue outside the school, regardless of the in-school ban.

In a speech at the UCLA School of Public Health on Wednesday night, Oliver said he had been inspired by his experiences at West Adams Preparatory and shared his frustration with district officials.

"Yesterday my filming permit was terminated because I can't promise that the LAUSD doesn't look good,'' he said. "They fail to see me as a positive, and they fail to see the TV as an incredible way to spread the word, to inspire people, to inform parents, to see other teachers doing pioneering things.'

Although many local schools generate extra cash by leasing out their facilities for filming, some reality productions have irked school officials. Last year, officials at Hollenbeck Middle School complained about having to spend more than $100,000 to fix a substandard paint job left behind by the TV show "School Pride."

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: Jamie Oliver works to transform the school lunch program of Central City Elementary School in Hungtington, W.Va., in the ABC show "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Credit: ABC.


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Comments () | Archives (40)

Instead of bringing in reality shows with their 15 seconds of glamor, not something students need any more of, why not woo physicists and doctors, nurses, urban planners, any manner of INTELLECTUAL career. Our students need to learn about long term planning for their futures, not crass commercialism.

What does LAUSD have to hide?!

How about the fact that there are OTHER districts that have far worse food choices, yet he insists on LA. Probably 'cause he'll get more attention at a large district like LAUSD.

We vehemently disagree with LAUSD stand on this issue. Jamie Oliver is above and beyond any target for disrupting the system or bringing false allegations against the school district. He is there to educate and bring issue completely out in the open so solutions can be affected and children can develop a healthier view of eating. In every show and place he goes, its the reisistance that clearly offronts him. What must be still hidden from camera view? What does LAUSD feel shamed of? I will answer that as a health practitioner and a Dr. husband who deals with education of parents and nutritional testing. We hear the stories from the kids and the parents all the time. The kind of food presented is not in their best interest and disrupts any possible help from our vantage point. Gluten free? ( as an example)Ha! There needs to be more education to dispel ignorance of all workers. School cafeterias haven't changed in decades. We have parents demanding even in preschool NO SUGAR SNACKS bc their kids, their little children are coming down with rashes and reactions and behavioral problems. What is wrong with the teachers? Easy fix, give sugar? This is such a huge problem, bigger than Jamie Oliver and he is only trying to bring up salient points for our childrens health and brain function. It riles us up to think there are constraints on his activity in LA. Shame on you LAUSD!

why does it have to be filmed? the knowledge is what's important, not the accolades for jamie or anyone else who tries to help educate kids and parents on how to eat properly.

jamie oliver is not the messiah of food. he's just the latest superstar.

The way Doctors, Nurses, Physicists, Urban Planners help out is by being given the opportunity to come in and make changes that have to start with a big spark, a big bang if you will. It also takes a lot of Money. Do you really think a bunch of smart people just sit around all day wondering where to go next? They become passionate, and aware of projects when they are exposed to them by people just like this.

So while I see that you think only people with college degrees gives them any right to help out our kids, it also takes the the exposure that Jamie Oliver and Ryan Seacrest can create. LAUSD has been against this from he beginning, they are in a bad place, the school system is hurting, it graduates only 65% of its students and it is falling down around them. I dont know how good of a light they were expecting to be portrayed in. Have you visited any of these schools? I have, and if going there shows anyone in LA that more time needs to be spent down there, working on the schools, more kids need help and more money needs to be donated, then the truth is out there. It is our jobs as the adults in LA to help where we can.

So unless you have an idea of how to get the INTELLECTUAL'S (I am a Nurse Practitioner in Downtown LA working with Deaf Kids in LA) and only them to help without celebrity endorsements, please put the plan in action. But until then, let them try to help these kids. Because not very many people are.

And how does LAUSD think this will look when Oliver's show airs? Do they think denying him access paints the district in a positive light?

Supt. Ramon Cortines would approve the permit for Oliver's show only if . . . it would paint the district in a postive light.

How obvious: they are concerned about the "disruption" caused by filming -- to LAUSD's image, not to the kids.

They doth protest to much...sounds like they serve bad "corporate" food and do not want to be called out for it.

As for Carol's comment, education should include how to properly maintain your own body. That seems pretty basic.

Actually, the real reason is:....LAUSD is afraid Jamie will expose the crap food they serve and how much waste there is at LAUSD.

If Oliver portrayed the LAUSD in a positive light he'd have to lie about everything he says.

I'm not a fan of LAUSD or the food they serve, but I agree with their decision. A film crew is always disruptive no matter the subject. Also, the success of Mr. Oliver's program depends on drama and conflict, so I'm sure he will do his best to bring it out. Imagine how boring the program would be if there was no conflict.

LAUSD hasn't been in a positive light in any memory of mine. Thank you LAUSD for creating such demand for private education. Because of you, private schools can charge ridiculous amounts of money for education that should have been provided by LAUSD in the first place.

You can only film if you're willing to be part of the propaganda machine, Jaimie!!! And they're stupid enough to come right out and say it... Man, LA is filled with low I.Q. gov. at every level...

Why was this allowed to start filming here in the first place?
I thought the district turned this down?

The conflict and drama in W Virginia had nothing to do with the school.
This is a tenet of reality shows, and Jamie Oliver's is no different.
This is a lame show and I'm glad that this failed attempt to EXPLOIT our kids has been stopped.

What's wrong with Jamie Oliver? There are thousands of school districts in this country, and hundreds in California alone. Why can't he just go to a school district that wants him there?

I think LAUSD should be thrilled to have the opportunity to open its kitchens to Jamie and the viewing public. If he can institute positive changes, great--I don't think that has to be viewed as putting the school district in a bad light. Instead, look at it as "live and learn." If the schools can learn something from Oliver and make positive, permanent changes as a result, why not?

Jamie Oliver is not a nasty or mean spirited person. I do not believe for one moment that his intentions are anything but good--even though I'm against his use of dead animals as food. He wants to improves kids' diets. How can that be bad? So what if there's some conflict, as in the first season? Conflicts and differences of opinion and being open to change make for interesting viewing. I just see no reason the show shouldn't go on.

Ummm... what are they using gold paint? $100,000 for an LAUSD paint job!??!

No wonder it's all bankrupt. I wonder if they used some of those $250 brushes and $100 paint cans, too...

@HonestRob... "exploit our kids," really? That's what he's doing? He's exploiting our kids by trying to get schools to feed them better for nearly the same amount of money? What are you, a plant for the district? Your take makes zero sense... my guess is you don't even have kids who eat these lunches... I mean, I don't either... but I'm not making outlandish statements.

How stupid can the LAUSD powers-that-be be? Did they even watch the first series on the Hungtingon, WV schools? Good lord. . . . . . .

Jamie Oliver wants to show the LAUSD how to offer their students healthier food choices for a lot less money.

But of course the LAUSD wants none of that.

No wonder they're going broke.

I watched the first season of this show and found it truly inspiring. Obesity rate in this country is alarming, diabetes kills, as does clogged arteries, isn't that something the LAUSD should be helping to prevent? You have a well known health and food fanatic trying to do something good and positive for your children and it is denied? it makes zero sense. LAUSD is already embarrassing, why add on to the reasons we should avoid enrolling our children in this district? I wouldn't classify this as a reality show but an educational show that parents, teachers and children should watch, it's for your own benefit. The economy is in the gutter, education in this country is weak and here we are provided with FREE guidance and help to improve not only our (and our children's) eating habits but most importantly our health.

Shame on the LAUSD- it must have ties to pharmaceutical companies, I'm sure! :o(

Every place where "reality" cameras are placed is reduced to childish, loud, attention-getting behavior. There is no place in a school for a reality show, no matter what the producers say they will pay, provide, or offer.

Listen....we all drank chocolate milk growing up and we probably didn't eat as much veg as he is pushing. Is it healthy, of course it is, and as a parent, I keep trying to get them to eat it but most of the kids at our LAUSD school throw away the fruit and veggies that they serve on the side of every meal. Kids don't like it and you have to come up with all sorts of tricks to get it done. His show that aired earlier from W. VA took on a very condescending tone to parents for juice boxes and chocolate milk. I don't need him to tell me what I can and cannot give my kids and I don't like the way he did it. I'm not waving the district flag I'm just tiered of the celebing of our society. If it is so important to him...do it with out the cameras.

Why Jamie Oliver and not doctors? Why a reality show and the publicity of "the latest superstar"? Because that's how this gets funded. Presumably, any number of credentialed Everyman nutrition educators could be in the school right now. They are not there; the tax payers have chosen not to fund them.

I don't think Jamie Oliver and his supporters have any illusions about the fact that crass commercialism plays a part in this - in addition to any specific talent he has for educating children or teaching people about nutrition.

He is using his celebrity deliberately to promote a cause he seems genuinely to care about because celebrity, for good or for bad, has power that can be put to use.

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