By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Aug 09, 2010 at 11:00 AM
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You had to see it coming after she barely survived last week, but Aria Kagan's run for the "The Next Food Network Star" came to an end on Sunday night's episode.

The 30-year-old Wisconsin-born chef's departure leaves three finalists in the competition for a Food Network cooking program.

Kagan never really crashed and burned, but the bubbly personality plateaued a few weeks back as other competitors tried more adventurous food and offered a better on-air performance.

"You're just not bringin' it," Said Bobby Flay, one of the judges. "We need you to kick ass here."

Sunday night's episode recreated "Iron Chef," with contestants both cooking three dishes with a "secret ingredient," and doing on-camera descriptions of the other contestants and what they're doing.

Kagan's ingredient was bacon, but instead of making it the main player in any creative ways, she did a three-course breakfast featuring French toast with bacon, a cheese omelet with bacon, and finally, a salad, with bacon.

Judges scolded her for not making bacon the centerpiece of her menu. And "Iron Chef" Morimoto virtually sealed her fate when he called her offerings "diner food."

Her competitor in the bacon war, Tom Pizzica, flopped on a couple of his dishes -- including a nearly inedible bacon "steak." But he was complimented for trying something original.

Tom also did far better in reporting on the action.

"What I was getting was enthusiasm, but not an expert star teacher," judge Susie Fogelson, Food Network's senior vice president of marketing, creative services and brand strategy, told Kagan. "You lacked a seriousness to the assignment."

While the Town of Erin native failed in her final assignment, not all the comments were negative. The third judge, Bob Tuschman, Food Network general manager, offered some praise.

"Since week one, you've had the most natural affinity to the camera, like you were born to talk to the lens."

But even in a competition for a TV show, that wasn't quite enough.   

On the air: Chicago's WGN-AM (720) shuffles its lineup again, ending Greg Jarrett's morning show at 8:30 starting today, adding Cincinnati talker Mike McConnell from 8:30 to 12:30 p.m., and moving John Williams to the 12:30 to 3 p.m. slot.

  • Speaking of WGN, fired afternoon guy Steve Cochran can be found at
  • Speaking of fired afternoon guys, Phil Cianciola says he plans to talk about the announcement that Jonathan Green is retiring from the WTMJ-AM (620) afternoon show, and whether he'd want to return to radio, on his podcast today.
  • If you're hoping to watch "Breakthrough with Tony Robbins" on Channel 4 tomorrow night, you're going to be disappointed. NBC pulled the show after two episodes, replacing it in the 7 p.m. slot with reruns of Guy Fieri's "Minute to Win It." Fieri, by the way, is a past winner of "Next Food Network Star."
  •  "Sarah Palin's Alaska" will debut on TLC on Nov. 14. One of her super special guest stars will be Kate Gosselin, along with her kids.

Where TV ideas come from: It was Twitter for CBS' William Shatner sitcom "$#*! My Dad Says." Now, it's YouTube for Nickelodeon's upcoming "Fred: The Movie."

Lucas Cruikshank has been doing "Fred" videos on "YouTube" for the past couple years, and his fast-talking character made his Nickelodeon debut last year on "iCarly." Nickelodeon will premiere "Fred: The Movie" on Sept. 17.

Here's the trailer:


Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.