Carla Hall and the other co-hosts of “The Chew” had no clue that their program was on ABC’s chopping block. The network first informed the crew, Hall said, after they had taped a new episode Wednesday.
In a sense, Hall was grateful not to hear the news from an agent or a news outlet.
“You know how things are with leaks,” she said Thursday during a phone interview. “You just have to tell everybody so everybody gets the news. I wouldn’t have wanted to find out even from one of my co-hosts whose agent knew before my agent did. … It’s harsh, and it’s hard. But I get it.”
Disney-owned ABC announced that “Good Morning America,” which has been largely outperforming NBC’s “Today” this season, will take over the 1 p.m. time slot occupied by “The Chew.” No word whether the program will change its name to “Good Afternoon America” for its added hour, which is expected to begin in September when “The Chew” winds up its seventh and final season.
Hall, 54, noted the wicked parallelism of the beginning and end of “The Chew.” When it debuted in 2011, the show bumped “All My Children,” the daytime soap that had aired for 41 years. “AMC” fans were not pleased, just as “The Chew” faithful were not amused at ABC’s decision to dump the program for another hour of “Good Morning America.”
“Being on the other side of that when ‘All My Children’ [was canceled], we all were blamed for it individually, personally, and it was a business decision of the network. You know, it’s not fair to do that to the people on ‘GMA.’ It wasn’t their decision,” Hall said. “Now I’m on both sides of that. I always understood it, but I understand it even more now. It’s to say to our fans, ‘Hey, look, it’s not their fault.’ ”
On Twitter, of course, “All My Children” loyalists rejoiced at the demise of the “The Chew.”
“The Chew,” the brainchild of executive producer Gordon Elliott, was an experiment to see whether daytime television could wean itself off a diet of syrupy soap operas and talk shows and embrace the universe of home cooking and lifestyle chats. When the program launched, it featured five co-hosts, including Hall, the Washington area caterer who appeared on “Top Chef” and “Top Chef: All-Stars;” Daphne Oz, a nutrition author and daughter of television doctor Mehmet Oz; Clinton Kelly, co-host of “What Not to Wear;” Michael Symon, a James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur; and celebrity chef-restaurateur Mario Batali, the closest thing to a superstar on the show.
Oz left before the start of the seventh season, and Batali was fired in December after numerous reports detailing the chef’s alleged sexual misconduct. B&B Hospitality Group has been trying to buy out Batali, a negotiation that seemingly intensified this week when the New York Police Department confirmed it was investigating the chef and restaurateur following a “60 Minutes” report in which a woman alleged that Batali drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2005.
Hall is not about to speculate on whether the allegations against Batali contributed to the fall of “The Chew.” “If they did, [the show] was a scapegoat,” she said. “But I have no idea.”
Nor is Hall immediately willing to blame a drop in ratings for the program’s downfall. “People are looking at television differently. They look at it on their devices, and there are no metrics for that,” she said. “It looks like everybody’s numbers are down, and it’s because nobody’s home and has appointment television.”
In the end, she said, it’s just cheaper for ABC to produce another hour of “Good Morning America” than to pay for an hour of “The Chew.”
“I think the saddest part is, we, being in the middle of the day, were a break from news. A lot of people said, ‘You are our happy place,’ and we truly took that to heart, that we were a happy place,” Hall said. “So we didn’t really talk about news because you were getting news everywhere.”
Hall also thought that “The Chew” succeeded in its mission to introduce cooking into daytime TV. “I absolutely think we did,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many people came up to us . . . saying, ‘Oh my God, I cook more at home now because I’m watching Michael Symon.’ ”
“I’m not saying everybody loved us, because some people were like, ‘It’s so silly. You have all these games. I just wish you would cook,’ ” Hall added. “But we weren’t that show.”
Hall said there’s no reason to worry about her, even with “The Chew” cancellation and the fact that she had to shutter her Nashville fried-chicken restaurant in Brooklyn last year. Once “The Chew” wraps its final two weeks of filming, Hall’s schedule will immediately open up. She has been spending 39 weeks a year taping episodes of “The Chew.”
“I feel like the one thing about me is that I do all kinds of things,” she said. “I didn’t want to be pigeonholed in food, so I think I have other opportunities that are looming and things that I said no to because I didn’t have the time.”
Among the possible opportunities, she said, are food-licensing deals and other TV shows. Who knows, she said. Some other network may even pick up “The Chew.” The one thing she’s not going to do is fret about her future.
“What I’m not going to do is sit at home and stress about not having a job in the fall and not take advantage of the summer that I need, ” she said. “Everybody else needs to know [my future]. I don’t need to know. What I need to do is just be very grateful for this experience.”