How much did Emeril Lagasse make off his Cooking Channel show “Emeril’s Florida”?
Pat Roberts, a producer for the show, which saw the celebrity chef eating his way through the Sunshine State, is trying to block a subpoena to turn over financial records to the Florida House of Representatives, according to widespread media reports.
The Panama City News Herald reported that the state’s tourism promotion agency, Visit Florida, which relies primarily on state funding, paid at least $10 million over a five-year period for “Emeril’s Florida.”
Lawmakers apparently want the receipts and to know how much Lagasse and Roberts pocketed for their work.
Back in November, Roberts and his company MAT Media sued the House, claiming that the records sought by the House included trade secrets and confidential business information.
“If he has nothing to hide, he should have cooperated,” House Speaker Richard Corcoran said in a statement. “Instead of cooperating, he’s hired high-priced lawyers to shield himself from the taxpayers and avoid telling the truth. ... If it’s a fight he wants, then it’s a fight he’ll get. We will win.”
The House demanded last week that Roberts turn over records by Tuesday or risk fines and even jail time. The Tallahassee-based producer is hesitant as he could reportedly be sued if Lagasse’s financial information is revealed.
According to the Capital Times, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker held an emergency hearing Tuesday on the matter and decided a formal hearing would be held Friday in Tallahassee.
Lagasse often visited restaurants in South Florida during the run of the show, which ended last year.
In December 2016, rapper Pitbull disclosed that he was paid $1 million by Visit Florida to promote the state from July 2015 to June 2016. The head of the tourism agency, Will Seccombe, was fired after the deal became public.
Visit Florida’s contracts for “Emeril’s Florida” weren’t negotiated with the TV star’s management company, like the deal with Pitbull, reports The Naples Daily News.