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Considering the nature of this week's episode, I'm going to try and anticipate some questions viewers might have...
1. We allowed the chefs to have a camera because one of them had asked for one because it was their last night and they wanted to mess around and have some fun. I think we all expected them to film themselves doing impressions of Tom and Padma and some of the producers (that's what usually happens and it makes for fun extra content for the Bravo website).
2. The chefs know that there is someone on the production team sleeping in a room nearby and that they can go to them at any time if they have a problem. Marcel could have done this but did not. We do not have producers sleeping actually in their rooms -- it has never been necessary to police grown adults and industry professionals like that.
3. The next morning, I got a call from a field producer who had arrived at the loft to find Elia and Ilan without any hair. I was furious with them as I felt it was kind of a juvenile prank to pull which undermined the dignity of the show (little did I know there was much worse to come).
4. Marcel did not come to the production team at any point the next morning to make a complaint about what had happened so it took a little while for us to find out. He was in an interview and towards the end he mentioned it rather casually to the producer who was interviewing him. The producer then asked him for the full details and notified me.
5. Once we saw the tape, we had absolutely no choice but to ask Cliff to leave. I was very sorry to have to do so, as it was clear it was supposed to be a prank but it clearly went too far.
6. From the moment Tom told him he had to go, Cliff handled himself like a total gentleman.
7. I think Marcel was genuinely sorry that Cliff had to leave like that. (I think I would have been a lot less forgiving -- it must have been pretty unpleasant to be woken up to that).
8. It was a little embarrassing in front of Chef Eric Ripert. We were so proud to have him on the show and he had been impressed by the meal in Santa Barbara. It was all going so well, dignified and all about great food. Then all of a sudden we were at judges table with one chef missing and two chefs missing their hair. It was like we had been hit by a crazy-bomb.
9. It was a strange irony that the judges felt that they most likely would have eliminated Cliff anyway. They could still have decided to eliminate another chef but chose not to. I think it was the right call, as it would have felt unfair to eliminate a chef for being the second worst in the challenge -- especially with the stakes being so high. I've been producing television for about 12 years now and nothing quite like this has happened to me before -- it was a strange and uncomfortable situation for everybody. Of course it does make for a very compelling episode and for a producer 'compelling' stories are the holy grail. But this is one story I would prefer not to be telling.
In my next blog I am going to try and answer some of your questions -- I know I have been very bad at responding to these which must be very annoying. Although I won't be responding to questions like, "How did a talentless hack like you get this job?" Those questions will be answered in my forthcoming autobiography, "Sleeping your way to the top, my life in television." Until then...