By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Mar 11, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay's new NBC show, "America's Next Great Restaurant" debuted last week to weak numbers.

I hope that the ratings will improve because this is one of those "reality" competitions that can offer insights as well as entertainment.

The set-up is familiar, a group of wannabe restaurant owners pitch their ideas to a panel of "investors." The investor/judges winnowed the field to 10 finalists in last week's premiere, and those folks will battle it out for money to start their own "quick casual" eatery.

At their best, these shows are really about how to market an idea. In the first episode,  software sales director Sudhir Kandula was trying to sell the investors on his idea for an Indian restaurant chain. Kandula was pushing an all-vegetarian menu.

Flay questioned the potential success of an eatery targeting vegetarians, and asked if Kandula considered a possible meat option.

Kandula first seemed unmovable, but Flay's gentle pressure convinced to accept meat. That flexibility got Kandula into the group of 10 finalists, as he tries to get his idea off the ground.

"America's Next Great Restaurant" airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on Channel 4.

Here's last week's pilot episode, in case you want to catch up:

On TV: This year's NCAA Basketball tournament will feature game coverage starting next week on TBS, TNT and truTV, in addition to CBS. It's the first time for this broadcast/cable set-up. Milwaukee's CBS station, Channel 58, will air 26 games, including the Final Four and the championship. 

  • Milwaukee's Action Organizers will be featured on TLC's "Hoarding: Buried Alive" at 9 p.m. Sunday, in an episode filmed last fall that focuses on a Wisconsin family with a hoarding problem. The organizing company has been in two episodes of A&E's "Hoarders."
  • Racine's Kristin Bauer of HBO's "True Blood" will host "The Grand Slam Charity" Jam" April 2 at Potawatomi Bingo Casino. The multi-charity fundraiser, sponsored by Grafton's Kapco. Inc., will feature "American Idol" finalists Kimberley Locke and Paris Bennet, on the long list of performers and celebs. More information is available at the event Web site or Facebook page.
  • Anthony Arbucias has been named Channel 12's new general sales manager, coming from the Hearst-owned station's Baltimore sibling, WBAL-TV, where he has been local sales manager. He replaces long-time sales manager Pete Monfre, who is leaving to start his own business.
  • Brianna Keilar is CNN's new White House correspondent. She had been covering Congress.

It has to be better than last week's show: This weekend's "Saturday Night Live" has Zach Galifianakis, which has to be a huge improvement over last week's host, Miley Cyrus.

Here are NBC's promos for this weekend's show, at 10:30 p.m. Saturday on Channel 4:

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.