LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Interview With Rocco DiSpirito
Aired July 25, 2003 - 19:41 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, now the world of television, from the X generation, watching Gen-Xers in a real world to people watching people behave badly for a million dollars, there is no shortage these days of reality TV. We all know that. You can now add to the list eating out in Manhattan Italian style. NBC's latest reality installment follows chef and restaurateur Rocco DiSpirito as he opens what he hopes will be New York's next best Italian restaurant, the best one in the city, he hopes.
He joins us now from Los Angeles.
Rocco, thanks for being with us.
I mean, I can't even imagine...
ROCCO DISPIRITO, CHEF, RESTAURATEUR: How are you?
COOPER: ... you're opening up a restaurant at the same time as you're shooting a reality show. How do the restaurant business and the television business interact?
DISPIRITO: Wow. In so many different ways. You know, at times, it was an incredible blessing to have all the attention, at times it, you know, was a logistical nightmare. I mean, but in the end, I think both the TV production and the restaurant ended up being something special.
So I'm really proud to have done it. It was definitely a big risk, but I think if you've seen the first episode, it's really a new twist on the genre of reality and a new direction that I think is much better than...
COOPER: But I mean, to, but to have one...
DISPIRITO: ... the previous.
COOPER: ... to do one of these shows, I mean, successfully, you need, you know, six cameras, crew, lots of crew people running around, a lot of space, and the stuff that makes a good TV show is not necessarily the same things that make a good restaurant. I mean, a TV show needs lots of drama. That's not necessarily what you want for a dining experience, and I guess nothing better than a TV show than chaos, and I'm not sure you want that in the kitchen. So how do they interact?
DISPIRITO: Well, the thing is, like I said, there were definitely some logistical issues. There were 100 people on Mark Burnett's crew. But they, of course, were professional, lovely people, and we were able to work it out most of the time.
And the other thing, you know, you -- as a restaurateur, my job is to basically control the chaos and the drama. There's always going to be chaos in the restaurant business. It's a very, very difficult space to operate in, the restaurant business, you know, requires a lot of human beings to intersect at just the right place to make it all work out.
COOPER: Well, now, as we certainly know when camera...
DISPIRITO: ... frankly, I can't think of a better medium for a reality show.
COOPER: We all know when cameras around, human beings often behave badly. I understand there have been some customers who come in, you know, joking around, putting a, you know, a fake little Volkswagen bug in one of the meals, saying, you know, There's a bug in my meal, and sending food back, hoping to get on camera. Does it bring out odd things even in, like, your wait staff?
DISPIRITO: Yes. I mean, I definitely think there was some overacting on the part of the customers and the wait staff. The people who came in during the shooting were clearly there to, you know, have a moment on television, and that's fine. You know, they had a good time in the end, and ultimately, that's what I'm there to do, is give people a chance to have a good time.
I -- you know, looking back on the whole Volkswagen bug thing, I thought it was pretty funny. I'm wondering if it was a marketing move from the Volkswagen people, because we -- no one stops talking about it. There was actually a miniature Volkswagen Beetle in a salad, and they said, Waiter, there's a bug in my salad. And we actually took it to the kitchen and remade it. It was a funny moment.
COOPER: Yes, in New York, everybody's a comedian. Rocco DiSpirito, appreciate you joining us. Good luck to you...
DISPIRITO: So many out-of-work comedians.
COOPER: Yes, I know. Good luck to you, I mean, your show, and your restaurant as well. Thanks very much.
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