Fox signs Ramsay to bring Hell's Kitchen to the States

LONDON - Gordon Ramsay has signed a deal with Fox TV to make a US version of hit reality show, 'Hell's Kitchen', just as the network has come under fire from rivals claiming it is stealing show ideas.

The US version of 'Hell's Kitchen', which screened on ITV1, will use ordinary men and women who think they can make it as chefs. The major difference will be that the winner of the show will receive their own restaurant in Hollywood worth over $2m (£1.08m).

Filming will begin in September with the show going out on Friday nights on Fox.

This comes as a battle between Channel 4 and ITV to sign Ramsay unfolded yesterday. Channel 4 reportedly offered £1.2m and ITV £1m. The chef has already filmed a pilot show for Channel 4 and is still in talks with ITV about the next UK version of 'Hell's Kitchen'.

The foul-mouthed former Glasgow Rangers footballer was as famous for his over-use of expletives as for his culinary expertise in the UK series. Producers have said he will probably have to tone things down for the US version, or face being bleeped to the anger of TV executives.

Fox's decision to bring 'Hell's Kitchen' to the US coincides with ABC Primetime president Stephen McPherson accusing the broadcaster of stealing ideas for its formats.

ABC bought the rights to RDF's award-winning show, 'Wife Swap', screened in the UK on Channel 4 and due to air in the US in autumn. Fox is planning to air its own version, 'Trading Spouses', before 'Wife Swap', but did not reveal this until after ABC announced details of its show.

In a videocast from Paris to the Television Critics' Association meeting in Los Angeles, McPherson warned writers and developers to be wary of showing ideas to Fox: "They will steal it, plain and simple."

NBC has had similar trouble with a reality boxing show it devised, called 'The Contender'. Fox announced plans to release a similar version, 'The Next Great Champ', after the NBC show was unveiled.

NBC Universal Television Group president attacked Fox on Saturday, saying: "Quite frankly, they used to be innovators, and now they are imitators."

A Fox spokesperson declined to comment on remarks by either rival.

  • News Corporation, owner of Fox, is preparing to announce plans for a new cable-satellite channel devoted to reality programming in the US. Scheduled to go on air in the first quarter of 2005, the network will be known as the Fox Reality Channel and is expected to combine original programming from Fox's various production entities with the network's library of unscripted fare.

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