Tuesday, June 20, 2017

IS GORDON RAMSAY THE BIGGEST TV STAR OF ALL-TIME? Stop laughing, he might be. Time to consider his place.




So, this Emmy season, is very competitive. I mean, have you looked at how many series and actors and-, just everybody, everybody has submitted their names for an Emmy this year. Hell, I'm slightly amazed that I'm not on any of the ballots, although I haven't checked them all, so maybe I am and just haven't found it yet. Here you guys check it you want:

http://www.emmys.com/ballots/2017

but it got me thinking about the state of television at this moment. And then, I started thinking about television, all-time, and comparing it today, and that's when, something kinda dawned on me, something that I hadn't really noticed before, but frankly I couldn't ignore. Gordon Ramsay might be the biggest television star of all-time!

I know, that- that seems, weird. nonsensical even. I can hear everybody listing other names right now, "Hey, wait a minute, what about so-and-so, and so-and-so, and hold on, he's not even an actor! I mean, sure he's on TV, but that's not the same as being a legitimate star, he's just a chef!? Cooking shows don't make someone the biggest television star! Especially the angry Scottish Chef we tolerate, right? Right?

Um, do you guys just know how long he's been on television? 


Tubi's cheap and free people, get it. This is "Ramsay's Boiling Point", this was a documentary series made in 1998, about him opening up a new restaurant. He was already famous in the foodie community at this point, but it's this docu-series that made him a television star, back in, again, 1998! He's been basically on television consistently on two continents for almost twenty years now, and it doesn't look like it's gonna stop anytime soon. And let's keep that in mind too, almost nobody, has had hugely successful television shows as a performer, on both sides of the Atlantic, at the same time. Not to mention, multiple shows, on both sides of the Atlantic, at the same time.

Also, if you, only consider actors among a list of television stars, then you're just blind to television dynamics and celebrity. You know, who the First Emmy for Television personality? Beat out Mr. Television himself, Milton Berle, and this was before Lucy broke? Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen! Seriously, a televangelist. In fact, he won that category twice. And, in the world where Reality Television is often king, especially on network, it should not be a surprise, that a non-actor gets that mark. "American Idol" was the number one show on television, for a record seven straight years. Hell, "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scout", which, was basically, just the 1950s version of "Star Search", was the number one rated show in 1952, and even during the reign of "I Love Lucy", "The $64,000 Question, actually topped it in the ratings during one year, and over the years since, "60 Minutes" "Survivor", 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" , those shows made TV stars, as much as "Friends" or "Seinfeld" ever did.  Regis Philbin holds the world record for most amount of time on television, people, when analyzing television stars, don't immediately just think "actors". 

So, what else is there? How about money? Well, the highest paid person on television is Judge Judy, also, not an actor, and is only on one show, although she does produce a couple others, and more importantly, those are daytime series, which do not have the ratings that Primetime shows have. But still they're important, so,  let's check the celebrity money lists.

https://www.forbes.com/celebrities/list/#tab:overall

Here's the Forbes, list of richest celebrities, let's see, musician, musician, author, musician, athlete, musicians, number seven is Howard Stern, doesn't make the majority of his money being a television star, he's a radio star. Dr. Phil McGraw, is number 15, Daytime television, produces a few things outside of his show, doesn't star in much outside of his show, (and owes everything to Oprah Winfrey I might add), #16, Ellen DeGenerous, as a performer, two successful television shows in her career, the Daytime show, much more successful than she ever was on Primetime, still also, stand-up comedy money, doesn't have a current Primetime show as a performer. #18. Jerry Seinfeld, does have a Primetime show at the moment, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee", so that counts. Most of his money was made on Primetime television however, in the past, when he only had one successful show on television, although, syndication money is huge. That's the one show to have if you're only gonna have one. (He probably is a bigger TV star than Ramsay, overall, but not in terms of the Primetime landscape at the moment)  #19. Mark Wahlberg, does have a TV show on at the moment, and it's in the reality genre, "Wahlburgers". Mostly a film actor however, which is where he made most of his money, most of his television credits are as a producer. There's one other actor and television star ahead of Gordon Ramsay, and that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. TV show, he's got "Ballers" on HBO. He also became famous, originally as a TV star. Can't ignore. However, by nearly every measure you can think, biggest movie star in the world, half his biggest fans, probably aren't aware he's got a television show on.

Gordon Ramsay is number #26 on this list. One higher than Ryan Seacrest, and he's known for television. He does radio as well, but in front of and behind the camera, Ryan Seacrest is a television star. He's 24 spots ahead of Simon Cowell, 20 spots ahead of Judge Judy. Not that this is even relevant, but there isn't another Chef, anywhere on this list, and there could've been. There are plenty of TV stars, who are chefs now, many in terms of critical acclaim, are way more successful that Gordon Ramsay. Tom Colicchio, for instance. Anthony Bourdain, for instance, Mario Batali, Rachel Ray.... At a certain point in his career, Emeril LaGasse, was big enough he could've hypothetically been on this list, not as high as Gordon Ramsay is, and for all the supposed "Food Network Stars" there are, none of them are near this list. 

Currently, Gordon Ramsay, star in "MasterChef", "MasterChef Junior", "Hell's Kitchen", "The F Word" and "Hotel Hell", and those are just the big concurrently-running shows he does in America. "Kitchen Nightmares" ended, after seven seasons, that's a very good run for a show, and it wasn't canceled, he ended it. Big difference there, you can presume if it kept going, it might've stayed on the air. That's not counted limited series and one-offs he's had. And that's only counting the U.S. In England, "The F Word", five year run, that's big in England especially. "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" the British version of that show, three years. We're not even gonna count, how many other countries some of his series have been adapted to. Seven shows, you can legitimately call "Hits", in less than a 15-year-span.  

There's one other statute that I would normally use, to determine the biggest television star, and I can't, for Ramsay, because I can't do it for anybody, 'cause the results of the rating aren't revealed publicly, and those are the TVQ ratings. I think I've mentioned them before here, but if you don't know what they are, they're basically a rating system, that to this day is taken very seriously within the industry. You can how they determine the scores here on their website: 
http://qscores.com/

They do other, "quotient" scores as well, they've even separated TVQ and CableQ nowadays, but, this is a strange rating that determines not, how talented or major your show is, but how popular and well-known you are, and how much you're liked. The way, the television industry has always explained it, is, "Whether or not you'd want to invite this person, into you're home," which, is what you're doing when you're watching television. If there are actors, that, you recognize that, seem to always get on all your favorite television shows, but you might not know or remember their name, they have a very good TVQ rating. 

Now normally, if I were to guess, I would not think Gordon Ramsay would have a good TVQ rating. I wouldn't. Knowing what I know about the system I would've thought, "This guy just yells and screams at everybody all day, why would I want him in my house? He's entertaining at it, but do I want him in my house? Do I like him, is he a favorite star of mine? Probably not. That said, Simon Cowell, huge on both sides of the Atlantic, still has hit television shows, Piers Morgan, still inexplicably in some cases still has hit television shows,... there's other precedents for somebody, who's a bit tempermental and at times abusive, but, people realize it's for a reason, and that they care about what they do so much that it makes them freak out, and yes, in the Chef world, he's got dozens of restaurants worldwide, including a three-star Michelin ranking, he cares about his craft, even today, enough, and no, he's not an anomaly in that world. He might be the most famous or infamous example of a Chef with that kind of dictatorial personality, but he ain't the only one, not by a longshot. People, probably like him. FOX, would not, basically, devote, I don't even know, it feels like half their weekly Primetime lineup to his shows, every year. I end up watching his shows, and I don't even like most of his shows. Yeah, this is not a recommendation article, I like "MasterChef" and "MasterChef Junior", and "Kitchen Nightmares", as series; they're okay, but none of them I would go out of my way to watch. If someone else puts it on, they're fine enough, I won't stop them, and half the time they are the best thing on TV at that moment, but no, there's no sane analyses out there where any of his shows rank among the best on television, even within the reality genre. And I really don't like "Hell's Kitchen" much at all, never have. vastly prefer "Top Chef" in terms of reality cooking competition shows, in fact, I don't even compare the two; they're not in the same league to me, and I honestly can't imagine why one would watch "Hell's Kitchen" when there's such a far superior alternative on the air. But "Hell's Kitchen" is still around, and "MasterChef" and "MasterChef Junior", they're not bad shows. They're not the greatest thing in the subgenre, but they're fine. If you're a foodie, you'll probably watch them and not necessarily feel ashamed. So, bottom line, he probably has a higher TVQ than we might think.

Now, how are the Neilsen Ratings? Well, they're patchy. Yeah, they're not great at the moment, they have been in the past. Still though,  two shows in the Top 100, and deep in the bottom half, but he's consistent, and the Neilsen ratings, well, they're not as relevant as they used to be with streaming, and they are going downhill now. (And considering that this is a Primetime schedules where there's maybe up and over 500 different options to watch, top 100, is pretty much a big hit show now) That's natural though, they've been on forever and like most shows these days, it gets it's core audience, and that audience sticks with it, and since it is reality, it costs less than to produce those shows than others, so they stay on the air. Ramsay is good at that. He's become a personality just through sheer force. He came up at the perfect time, when the conclave of star chefs met with the upswing of Simon Cowell popularity, and he parlayed that to a lot of fame and money, and to successful concurrent television programs running on two continents at once. Even if you combine the rating for his two top shows last year, "MasterChef Junior" and "Hell's Kitchen", he's a Top 20 TV stars. Those were only two of his shows, and with that alone, he produces the same average ratings as "Scandal".

I have no idea, whether he actually is the biggest TV star of all-time, but he's gotta be considered at this point. Sure, less people are watching television these days and unless you're a Super Bowl, you're not getting a 10.0 rating and that doesn't even mean what it meant beforehand anyway. Even adjusting for today though, he's on the list. The only other person I can think of that tried to, as a performer, juggle this many shows at once, at the same time was Alex Trebek in '91, and he only had three shows and it lasted, only for a couple months. Ramsay's had a few failures, but not as many as, others in similar positions have had. I'm not the biggest fan of the Scottish Chef, but I think it's a fair argument to say that he's one of the biggest television stars of all-time, and you can make a case for him being the biggest even. Why that is, is anybody's guess. He fluked into a successful and cheap formula, or FOX and BBC just keeping him the time slots for series and he produced them, 'til they found something better and just never got around to it, it could be that he's just popular and his shows usually become strong enough hits to keep around. It could just be that like an angry Scottish Chef to berate his own potential sous chefs, while simultaneously, being unusually nice to others in the industry or those who want in. Could just be that we like food, and he provides it on network television, although I can't help but notice that most other Primetime network reality food series have failed, besides his shows. (Did anybody watch more than one episode of "The Taste"?)

Yeah, I hate to admit it, but (Sigh) if you're trying to figure out who the biggest stars of Television are, don't leave off Gordon Ramsay. He belongs on the list and really high too. 
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