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Fox to bring U.K.'s 'Hell's Kitchen' (and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay) to America

By Wade Paulsen, 07/26/2004 

Looks like American Idol judge Simon Cowell isn't going to be the only nasty Brit to be imported along with his reality show by Fox.

According to Daily Variety, Fox has acquired the American rights for the U.K. hit reality-competition show Hell's Kitchen from Granada Television. In addition, the foul-mouthed British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay will travel to the U.S. as host.

Unlike the U.K. show, in which the contestants were 10 celebrities in the style of Granada's I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! (which was a U.K. smash but an American flop), the Fox show will feature ordinary people as contestants. The chosen chef-wannabes will live together in a house (shades of Pop Idol) while working at a restaurant specially created for the show (shades of The Restaurant) that seats 70-80. The producers will also create other, related challenges for the contestants during the run of the show.

Each week, one chef-wannabe will be found wanting and sent packing. The ultimate winner, though, will receive sole ownership of the restaurant used in the show -- a prize worth $2 million. Fox is said to be contemplating a ten-episode run, although it is unknown whether the number of contestants will be increased from the U.K.'s 10. The U.K.'s Brand Republic reports that Hell's Kitchen begins filming in September and will ultimately be aired by Fox on Friday nights.

Gordon Ramsay, a former soccer player for Scotland's Glasgow Rangers who is now a three-star Michelin chef with three top-flight restaurants in London, will attempt to join Cowell and The Weakest Link host Anne Robinson in captivating audiences on both sides of the "pond" with his acerbic wit.

Interestingly, according to The Belfast Telegraph, Ramsay says that Fox promised him that he wouldn't need to change his salty language for American audiences. Said Ramsay, "It's just as well because I can't change the way I am or the way I work. I'd have walked away if they'd started any of that 'Tone it down' bollocks."

But ... can Fox really make good on its promise? After all, Ramsay first became a famous TV star in the U.K. for using the "f-word" 111 times during a single broadcast of his restaurant-rehabilitation show Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, and we rather doubt that Fox reality-TV head Mike Darnell, already in the hot seat for his blatant idea theft, will want Ramsay to replace Janet Jackson's 'Nipplegate' as the latest target for indecency fines. Nonetheless, given Fox's recent moves, it's nice to see that Darnell is apparently still willing to license reality TV intellectual property instead of merely stealing it.

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