NEW YORK (AP) – Emeril Lagasse is leaving the Food Network’s prime-time schedule for the Fine Living Network, a move the chef hopes will mean a second course of “Emeril Live!”

The show that combines cooking, music and the chef’s own energetic personality has been a staple of the Food Network’s prime-time lineup since its 1997 debut.

But ratings have tailed off, and last year the Food Network moved the show from 8 p.m. Eastern to 7 p.m. Its average audience has declined from 717,000 three years ago to 579,000 this year, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The Food Network will air reruns of “Emeril Live!” in the afternoon. But corporate sister the Fine Living Network will pick up the show at 7 p.m. starting on July 7.

The show will air seven nights a week in that time slot. In its first week, five original episodes will be shown and, for about two months, a new episode will be shown each Monday while the rest are reruns.

Fine Living is carried in about 50 million homes, fewer than half the nation’s 110 million homes with television. The Food Network is in more than 90 million.

“As you know in television, things have to evolve and this is a little evolution for me,” Lagasse said.

While his prime-time showcase may be smaller, Lagasse said it represented an opportunity to expand his fan base to people who might not necessarily seek him out. He’ll also be paired on the schedule with Martha Stewart; on weekdays Fine Living airs reruns of Stewart’s syndicated program a day after it’s shown on broadcast television.

“It’s really what I consider to be a network-defining moment for us,” said Bob Baskerville, Fine Living Network president.

Fine Living will be rated by Nielsen Media Research for the first time this fall, and Stewart and Lagasse provide some big draws.

Lagasse held out hope that if the reruns do well on Fine Living and on the Food Network during the daytime, corporate owners the Scripps Networks would decide to order a new run of “Emeril Live!” episodes.

“Who knows what’s going to happen?” he said.


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