Oliver's American revolution will not be televised in schools
Monday 07 February 2011
It was his most ambitious project yet, a bid to revolutionise the lunchtime diets of California's children, mirroring the success of his UK school dinners campaign in 2005. Jools and the kids had even been relocated to the sunny west coast of the US. But the Los Angeles schools board has told Jamie Oliver to go twizzle.
The filming permit for the celebrity chef's series Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, produced by American television network ABC, has been terminated by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), amid concerns he would cast the schools, and their pupils and parents, in a bad light.
Oliver had already filmed at one LA school, West Adams Preparatory High School, and was scheduled to film at Manual Arts Senior High School and Santee Education Complex before he was banned.
Officials said the decision came because he hadn't submitted a proposal outlining his intentions, but in terminating the permit, a spokesman sounded particularly nonplussed by the idea. "We decided to put a halt to it until we receive that proposal," Robert Alaniz said. "We really don't want to be part of reality TV. The success formula for reality TV is drama and conflict. We're just not interested in either. This serves as a wake-up call. We're not interested in participating in reality TV across the district. We just don't want to go there."
Oliver is disappointed with the news. Unless the decision is reversed based on his proposals, which seems unlikely, it marks a major setback for the series. "LA is not on my side," he told The Mail on Sunday. "They've got their fingers in their ears... la, la, la... I have never felt so deflated."
Last week, during a public address to the UCLA School of Public Health, he said: "The school fought for me to get into their school, as did the teachers and the parent groups.
"My filming permit was terminated because I can't promise that the LAUSD doesn't look good. Guys, I'm a British citizen. I love your country. I'm here not because I want to improve my TV career, because I have a perfectly good one."
Oliver had already worked his way round a refusal from the Californian authorities, who said last November that they didn't need his help. "We believe our direct work with nutrition experts, health advocates, the community, schools and students is the most effective strategy for our continued success and improvement," a spokesman said at the time.
Last month, Oliver used his keynote address at the California School Nutrition Association to plead for access to the state's canteens.
Mr Alaniz said his concerns were partly as a consequence of the district's last foray into reality television, when the NBC school makeover show School Pride left behind a sub-standard paint job at a school that cost the district $116,000 (£72,000) to repair.
For now, Oliver has been asked by LAUSD to propose three weeks of menus for meals costing no more than 77 cents (48p) per serving, the maximum expenditure available across the nearly 1,000 sites the body controls, but it doesn't promise access to the cafeterias in return.
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