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Chef Jamie Oliver's food fight with L.A. Unified on hold till after sweeps

May 5, 2011 | 12:24 pm

Those who get their school news from reality television -- and are following the saga of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and L.A. Unified School District -- will have to be patient.

“Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” has been pulled from the ABC schedule during the crucial sweeps month of May -- when networks try to draw in as many viewers as possible, industry sources confirmed Thursday.

Oliver’s battles over food quality with the nation’s second-largest school district have attracted attention, but apparently not as many viewers as could be lured by reruns of “Dancing with the Stars,” which supplanted Oliver.

But Oliver is scheduled to return.

“They’re basically rebooting the series on a different night, post-sweeps,” said one industry insider who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The series will return May 27 with a replay of the first two episodes back-to-back at 8 and 9 p.m. New episodes will then run every Friday at 9 p.m. until the series concludes on June 24.

Those not relying on the show may already know that, as reported, newly installed L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy will bring forward a ban on high-sugar flavored milk to the school board. He made the announcement with Oliver on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”, giving Oliver a victory to highlight on his own series.

Oliver and Deasy are expected to come out looking good on the small screen. No such luck for widely venerated Ramon C. Cortines, the recently retired superintendent of L.A. Unified. Cortines, fed up by distracting and negative experiences with reality shows, had banned Oliver from campuses.

According to internal correspondence obtained by The Times, Cortines is set up to be a villain of sorts: “The district [Ray] starts to play a role in the second episode … I believe that continues for a few additional weeks [with Jamie continuing to plea with LAUSD to meet and being given a big NO on camera by Ray].”

School board members don’t come across so well either. Board member Richard Vladovic bemusedly wondered if it were possible perhaps for the producers to show him with fewer chins. Then he added that some good could arise out of Oliver’s effort to promote healthy eating -- “if it’s going to help some of our kids focus on obesity.”


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TV chef Jamie Oliver may get into L.A.'s public school cafeterias after all

Jamie Oliver praises plan to remove chocolate-flavored milk from L.A. schools

-- Howard Blume