Padma LakshmiLatest News and Opinion
Posted Wednesday 10/31/18 at 12:09AM EDT
Padma Lakshmi put on a comedy show in response to Louis CK's comeback
The Top Chef host's recent night of comedy tried to emphasize underrepresented voices, though she did get a cameo from her (and Louis CK's) friend Chris Rock. "The thing that annoyed me most about (CK's) particular case was that he tried to stifle and bury the careers of various female comedians who called him out on his shit,” said Lakshmi. “And it’s just like, it’s so hard as a woman, as an actor, as a director, as a comedian, as a writer, to even get noticed. And then to have the courage and bravery to speak the truth, and be slapped down and punished for it in such a cruel way, really spoke to me.”
Posted Wednesday 10/03/18 at 9:05PM EDT
Jimmy Kimmel under fire from Padma Lakshmi and others for his comments about Louis CK's comeback and for calling comedy "very democratic"
"If we get into the business of sanitizing every comedian and doing a thorough background check before they walk through the door, it’s going to be a very empty stage," Kimmel said when asked about Louis CK's comeback in a Hollywood Reporter interview announcing Jimmy Kimmel's Comedy Club in Las Vegas. "I think people tend to focus on the one or two people who walk out of a situation like that. Ultimately, the audience decides whether someone is welcomed back." Kimmel also laughed off the idea that comedy clubs should be a "safe space." Padma Lakshmi was among many on Twitter who criticized Kimmel's comments, tweeting: "Love you @jimmykimmel but the comedy community can also evolve their culture so that a known abuser who sexually humiliated women & silenced them for decades isn't welcomed back w/ open arms by @ComedyCellarUSA. I know a lot of standups who are NOT ok with sharing a bill with him. A 'background check' isn't really necessary for someone who openly admitted to masturbating in front of/on the phone to female colleagues for decades. We could just, as a culture and an NYC comedy community say, 'Actually f**k that.'" Kimmel was also criticized for saying, in response to a question about female comedians, that "comedy is very democratic. The people who are great, rise to the top; the people who are good, rise to the middle; and the people who aren’t good, don’t make it." As NPR critic Linda Holmes tweeted in response: "First of all, it's incredibly naive at this point to believe in absolute meritocracy in any endeavor, but to blow off the influences of any kind of discrimination in comedy is ludicrous. Second of all: Right in this same piece, they're talking about CK being given a spot on stage. A spot many people would kill for. Giving him that spot is a specific choice made by a specific person or people. That doesn't just *happen*. There are people who would give him that spot -- people who think his comedy is funny -- and people who don't. The idea that it's like the hot air balloon in The Good Place and you walk near a stage and it turns red or green? That's fake. I hate this depersonalization of the ways that people become famous, get opportunities to remain famous, and get opportunities to recover from stumbles. Those are all choices. It's not an algorithm." William Hughes added that Kimmel's "inner Adam Carolla emerged" in the interview, saying his "declaration against safe spaces is still a pretty f*cked-up thing to hear from a guy who is about to start actively employing people, especially since he just spent his last two responses first deflecting the idea that a club has a responsibility to make sure its employees won’t, say, take their d*ck out in front of other performers backstage, and then refuted any responsibility for making sure his club’s line-up isn’t a lazy parade of shitty-but-funny men. It is, in other words, both a continuation of the comedy club status quo, and a major bummer, especially since Kimmel has positioned himself in recent years as a voice for at least some angles of progressivism, ostensibly far removed from his old 'Girls jumping on trampolines' origins."
Posted Tuesday 9/25/18 at 1:05PM EDT
Padma Lakshmi writes about keeping silent after being sexually assaulted at age 16
Source: The New York Times
In a New York Times Op-Ed, the Top Chef host writes that she is coming forward with her story after President Trump questioned the accusation made by Christine Blasey Ford, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's accuser. "I didn’t report it," writes Lakshimi. "Not to my mother, not to my friends and certainly not to the police. At first I was in shock. That evening, I let my mother know when I was home, then went to sleep, hoping to forget that night."
Posted Tuesday 8/28/18 at 7:36PM EDT
Louis CK isn't owed a comeback -- he isn't owed anything
"I’m neither surprised nor, in fact, angry that CK is trying to do stand-up again," says Caroline Framke. "He’s a comedian with connections; wading back into the world to see where he might fit is his prerogative. But it’s also our prerogative not to give him the kind of time and consideration that many are insisting he deserves, especially when there are so many others who could use even one of the many chances he’s getting. The idea that there’s some kind of time limit on how long a person who committed sex crimes — which, yes, is the category to which masturbating at someone without their consent belongs — should be out of work is ridiculous. So is the idea that him admitting to it absolves him of having done it in the first place (especially when he only did so after getting called out by the New York Times, after years of denying it). So is the idea that it’s the right and decent thing to do to give him another chance, just because he waited a few months for the sting of his failures to fade." Saying that Louis CK has "suffered enough" makes his story one about redemption, she says, adding: "It minimizes the damage he caused, the women he targeted taking enormous risks to expose it, and the misogynistic rot within the entertainment industry that made it possible at all."
- Louis CK has made his "biased a**hole" standup act extinct now that he's been exposed as a liar, abuser and aggressor: "CK's entire comedy was predicated on the idea that he was a biased a**hole, but an honest one — a person who saw through the bullsh*t routines governing most human behavior, and could cut to a point by way of honesty," says Jeremy Gordon. "But last year’s revelations showed us that he is not an honest person — beyond being a liar, he is an aggressor and an abuser, and thinks he functions above recrimination. The notion that he could so easily return to doing 'typical Louis C.K. stuff' — and that this could even be normal, or fine — is so myopic that only a comedian could’ve come up with it."
- Louis CK's comeback sends a chilling message to victims: "It feels like nothing has changed," says Amy Zimmerman. "For all of the talk of cancelled men and their onerous contrition, it’s the 'heroes' of this movement who have suffered. When coming forward doesn’t lead to total blackballing, it triggers an avalanche of online harassment at the very least. While many alleged abusers have emerged professionally unscathed, accusers find themselves inextricably and publicly linked to their trauma. Survivors scroll through an endless minefield of potentially triggering content, and women are reminded every day that they live and work in systems that enable abusers and render women expendable. What does bearing witness to all of this accomplish, aside from depressing the sh*t out of the witnesses?"
- "The ability to drop in to do a set at a comedy club is a privilege given only to the most famous figures in comedy," says Dana Schwartz. "Louis CK is attempting to re-enter the comedy world by means of the same power structure that allowed him to abuse women for so long. And making it a surprise set, in which the audience may not have been ready or willing to see an admitted sexual harasser with an empty stage and the amplification of a silent room and a microphone, has the slimy feeling of Louis CK flaunting that power again."
- Kathy Griffin slams CK's comeback, saying "The Boys Club won again": "You know how many talented women and (people of color) comics are knocking on doors trying to get some time in front of audiences or powerful people in this business? And Louis just gets to glide back in on his own terms? Gosh, does it payoff to be in the boys club..the white boys club."
- Padma Lakshmi listed people funnier than Louis CK who haven't harassed women: "Not falling for this Louis CK 'triumphant return' narrative after years of him humiliating women who worked for & with him," she tweeted.
- Louis CK's comeback is a "workplace safety" issue: “Can you imagine the bank you're working at hiring back the guy who jacked off in front of women without their consent because it had been like, a year or something?” asked Ian Karmel, a stand-up comic and Late Late Show with James Corden writer. “It seems so obvious that we shouldn't let these people back into our communities without them putting in a lot of work to get better.”
- "What does it mean that CK’s ovation began before he even started his set?" asks Rebecca Traister. "It means he got applauded just for being Louis CK. Which, he might recall before he gets off on that too much, is exactly the reasoning that kept women from gaining any traction when they reported their experiences with Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose...Literally just being the powerful man is enough to get you a whole lot in this f*cked up world."
- "No one deserves to perform. Fame is not a birthright": "Even beyond the realm of criminal adjudication, there’s no reason for the public to believe the comedian has spent nine and a half months atoning for his misdeeds," says Hannah Giorgis. "He has not, as far as it is known, taken part in any sort of restorative- or transformative-justice process, a form of victim-centric community accountability that de-emphasizes court involvement. It is impossible to know what CK has spent the interceding months pondering while tucked away in his home, but publicly the comedian has done nothing to inspire confidence in his commitment to making amends...CK's August reemergence springs from the same well of self-aggrandizement as his lackluster November statement."
- Michael Ian Black apologizes after backlash over his Louis CK defense: "I hear all of your voices and I'm really sorry to have upset so many of you"
Posted Wednesday 8/15/18 at 7:08PM EDT
Samantha Bee and Padma Lakshmi parody Top Chef to comment on immigrants in the food industry
Tonight's Full Frontal episode tackles the 1.3 million undocumented immigrants who work in the U.S. restaurant industry.
Posted Tuesday 6/12/18 at 1:37PM EDT
Padma Lakshmi: Anthony Bourdain helped me get over my feelings of "imposter syndrome" when Top Chef started
"When the show started in 2006, I was surrounded by top-tier professional chefs," Lakshmi writes. "I had already published a book about food, had another coming out and had done a cooking show and a couple Planet Food documentaries for Food Network, but I still felt people thought I was just a model and what did I know about food? I hadn’t been to culinary school. I have never worked the line in a kitchen. Through our friendship, Tony taught me to feel pride in my own view of the world. We both relished travel and were transformed by it. He cared about me and my history and how that related to food. He was interested in everyone’s opinion. He taught me that no person’s opinion about food was too small to matter."
Posted Thursday 11/30/17 at 6:27AM EST
Today will never be the same, especially with its notion of “family”
For years, promoted the fiction that the Today show was like family with its “manufactured conviviality,” which “NBC played into that by steadily creating cults of personality around its anchors,” says Sonia Saraiya. “And yet," she adds, "Wednesday morning, turning on Today brought the sexual harassment movement right to your home, whether you wanted it or not. Now that we all know about Matt Lauer’s secret button that locked the door behind unsuspecting women he called into his office, the illusion of a happy television family is hard to believe in. Now the viewing audience has to reckon with the fact that the man they knew and watched for 20 years is, according to the company who made his career and the co-anchor who still calls herself his friend, a predator.”
- NBC must race to save its cash cow: GMA barely beat Today in the key demo in November sweeps
- Should NBC promote from within? Or pick somebody from CNBC or MSNBC?
- 10 potential Lauer replacements: Brian Williams? Ann Curry? Carson Daly? George Stephanopoulos!?
- Padma Lakshmi was scheduled to do a cooking segment Wednesday with Lauer: “When I walked into 30 Rock it felt like someone had died”
- Watch Charlie Rose awkwardly ask Matt Lauer and Katie Couric about their chemistry
Posted Wednesday 9/13/17 at 10:02PM EDT
Padma Lakshmi enters "detox mode" after wrapping each Top Chef season
Lakshmi says she cuts back on carbs and dairy to shed some of the weight she gains while sampling foods on the Bravo cooking competition, but that she's no longer worried about looking perfect.