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Giada De Laurentiis Added to Today Lineup, Starts Own Line of Food, Bakeware

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Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis is already the star of three shows: Everyday Italian, Giada's Weekend Getaways, and Giada in Paradise. She's also been a regular correspondent on NBC's Today. But now, according to Broadcasting & Cable magazine, her name-branding machine is kicking into high gear.

Already appearing in ads for Barilla pasta, she will also be launching a line of oils, vinegars, and spices (to clarify for all you pervs, we're talking about cooking oils) with Barilla due in December. She's designing a line of bakeware for Pyrex Glassware to launch in early 2008. And come September, she will co-host the new fourth hour of Today for one week each month for at least a year, as well as becoming "one of a rotating roster of co-hosts for all of the hour's segments."

Holy over-enunciated-Italian-words, Batman! Emeril may be the face of the Food Network and have his own line of cookware, and Rachael Ray may be the media-saturated star with her own talk show, magazine, and kitchen products, but Giada is really stepping out on her own here. She has really surprised me with her ambition. Her story always made it sound like she was just along for the ride, kind of like, "Oh my God! I wrote a magazine article about cooking for my large, Hollywood family and voila! Food Network asked me to host a show!" But now it seems like our dainty pasta princess is really aiming for household name status. (I was going to call her pasta queen, but that would be insulting Lidia Bastianich.)

And what a name it is. How refreshing to know that a household name could be one as long, complicated, vowel-choked and flat-out Italian as hers. Yes, Ray is technically Sicilian, but I don't think anyone associates "Ray" with Italian ancestry. I know it seems trivial, but I've seen and heard as many possible variations of my last name as possible. ("No, ma'am, you can't insert a consonant between the three vowels just to make it easier for yourself.") Even if it's in some small way, someone like Mrs. De Laurentiis gives hope to all of us. We're here, we have long names, get used to it!

Now, being a Giada fan from the beginning, will I mindlessly run out and buy her stuff? No. It's really not as if the world needs one more bottle of olive oil lining the shelves. I'm sure Giada's name alone insures some credibility, and therefore sales, but you just never know, especially when it comes to celebrity products. The article doesn't mention price points, either, so I'll simply have to wait, taste and see.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Sometimes Giada cooks on Today, sometimes she doesn't. So will there be any cross-promotion of her products on the show? Will she use her own products on her own Food Network shows? Because one of the more interesting points of the article is that Giada's products, including her books, are separate from the Food Network.

Food Network has approached De Laurentiis to jointly launch products, but she has chosen to go it alone (she already has three cookbooks in addition to the ongoing Barilla relationship) because star and network haven't been able to align on terms of a deal, she says.

“I came in at a time where Food Network didn't have those ties with a publisher and others,” De Laurentiis says. “They were doing food programming, and that was it.”

Luckily, both parties admit the mutual benefits of their relationship – the more popular one gets, the more it helps the other – and so it sounds like their relationship isn't affected negatively. Which is good, because I like Giada in the grocery store, even more so on my bookshelf, but most of all I like her where I got to know her first: on my TV.

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About Don Baiocchi

  • Luc Brooks

    Thank you for pointing out the act that Giada has been putting on for the American public. I am so tired of hearing people like Giada tell everyone that it was just an accident that she became famous. And I sure that her bubbly personality is an act too. Giada was awful on the Today show.

  • Dennis Serzen

    Giada projects phony more than most, especially that smile of hers, I turn off Today show if and when she deigns to make an appearance.