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Tuesday, March 13, 2007
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February 18, 2007 -- Catherine Zeta-Jones will don a gown, walk the red carpet, smile for the paparazzi and play the role of a presenter at an awards showlater this month. The Oscars? Not exactly. Zeta-Jones will present the award - a hefty silver slice of layer cake, it turns out - at the first FoodNetwork Awards, an effort by the Scripps Networks’ property to further expand its popular and profitable brand.

The cake represents one of 17 category awards that will be handed out Friday night-including others like “Icy Innovations” for achievement in ice cream and “Play with your Food” for selfexpression with edibles. The actor will appear with her co-star, Aaron Eckhart, in the awards show-to be telecast later this year-ahead of their next film, “No Reservations,” in which the duo play chefs.

Despite a glut of awards shows that often post lackluster ratings, the network- with revenue north of $425 million and daytime viewership up 26 percent in 2005 - hopes there’s room for one more.

They will trot out most of their stars, including Emeril Lagasse and Giada De Laurentiis.

“It’s a chance to focus attention on The Food Network, which obiviously we can monetize,” said network president Brooke Johnson.

“The awards show is a good move, and it puts them more in the

entertainment genre,” said Billie Gold, vice president and associate director of programming services at

media buyer Carat USA. “Even though ratings for awards shows have dissipated over the years, awards shows in general bring attention to the network.”

While the mood should be festive at the SouthBeachWine and Food Festival, where the awards showwill be held, not everyone thinks it’s a good idea.

“It’s logical they’d do it,” said Ira Matathia, a partner of NoFormula, a branding company and co-author of “NextNow:Trends for the Future.”

“I don’t think thatwatching an awards show is the way people use the Food Network,” he said, adding that people watch it to see chefs cook.

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