Walking into her living room, where her parents were watching Sunday’s Emmy Awards, Jane Lipsitz asked before the announcement for outstanding reality competition program, “Did we lose yet?”
Anything but. Lipsitz, who was working in New York on the Justin Bieber 3-D concert film, watched as her Magical Elves production company’s Top Chef defeated the long-dominant (and seven-time winner) Amazing Race.
“Everyone just went nuts,” says Lipsitz. “My phone, my Blackberry, it was all going crazy. Then [coproducer] Dan [Cutforth] calls me from backstage and says, ‘I can’t believe you’re not here!’ ”
From across the country, says Lipsitz (the Emmys took place in Los Angeles), “I heard that funny story of Padma Lakshmi hitting Phil Keoghan [of Amazing Race] before the awards and saying, ‘We’re taking you down this year!’ ”
But how did the Bravo cooking contest take down the CBS’s Amazing competition? “I think people were ready for a change,” Lipsitz says. “We poured our hearts and souls into Top Chef, and it’s so rewarding we were recognized. We were definitely the underdogs, the scrappy little show that could.”
Could another possible reason be that the Las Vegas season of Top Chef whetted the TV Academy voters’ appetites?
“We had such a high level of talent in terms of the chefs that it really stood out,” says the producer, “and hopefully reflected in how much we care about storytelling and the look of the show and casting and all that stuff.”
Besides, how could one go wrong with the cooking Voltaggio brothers? “We have not ever seen another set of sibling chefs,” Lipsitz says. “We wouldn’t not do it again, but that was definitely a unique story – and sort of Shakespearean – when it came down to the two brothers.”