‘The Robert Irvine Show’ exclusive: Executive producer John Irwin takes us behind the scenes

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Want to know what goes into making a daytime conflict-resolution show? It’s a difficult process that requires a lot of hard work, specific casting, and making sure you have the right people in every job. Yet, in the end these shows, when pulled off properly, can be some of the most successful on TV.

“The Robert Irvine Show” is a relative newcomer to this space, and is currently airing daily across many CW stations (click here to find it in your neighborhood). It features the chef / “Restaurant Impossible” star doing his part to try and solve problems for people in need, while still putting a twist on the established format.

In going behind the scenes as to how this show is made, and how it came together in the first place, we had a chance to speak directly with the show’s executive producer John Irwin, a man well-known for his work on “Celebrity Rehab,” “Couples Therapy,” and a spectrum of live and prerecorded specials.

CarterMatt – What made you as a producer want to get into this particular space?

John Irwin – Primarily because I have a pretty extensive background with ‘Celebrity Rehab,’ ‘Couples Therapy,’ and the conflict resolution stuff. Also, I’ve done a ton of live event television. It felt like a natural thing — obviously the show’s not live, but we shoot it in front of a live audience. It’s the same kind of energy, you know?

What was the process like getting someone like Robert, who is largely known for something different [in food], into this world? Was this something he was actively interested in doing?

He was really excited to do the show. He obviously cuts his teeth in ‘Restaurant Impossible’ doing the same sort of conflict resolution stuff. The stuff that he was doing on food was sort of the perfect training ground to step into this show. That’s exactly what he did. There was a very small learning curve; he came in, and was batting 100 right out of the gate and that made everybody’s job easier. He definitely knows how to handle it and deal with everyone up there.

When I first started looking at the show, I started to realize that there is a little bit of a natural connection here in that Robert, as a chef, probably has worked with every personality under the sun. That probably equips you for something like this.

For sure. If it wasn’t for food, Robert could’ve been doing this for construction. He has a knack for looking at situations and coming at them from a logical place and be able to solve problems. The fact that he was doing it in the food space, as you just said, you deal with some of the craziest personalities in that space. That was the perfect training ground for him to step into this place.

But I feel like there isn’t a situation you could put in front of Robert that he wouldn’t quickly solve.

Are the challenges different here than they are for a comedy special or a weekly reality show?

It’s definitely a grind. We’re shooting anywhere from three or four episodes a day, which is pretty brutal. We shoot twice a week, and the team does an amazing job booking the show — that is a huge task, to find all of the amazing stories and get them in on that particular day. That’s hard to pull off, since we’re shooting 165 episodes and we’re on a very aggressive schedule, to say the least.

It’s definitely more difficult than say the comedy specials, but doing the live event shows that I do, [it’s like them] because you’re doing a live show every day at 9 o’clock in the morning. It’s gotta all be there. It’s kind of the same exercise, and no difference from when I used to do [‘Late Night with Conan O’Brien’] four days a week.

What are your discussions like with casting? Is there any particular type of person they are looking for?

We’re looking for loud stories that are going to resonate with people at home. First and foremost, they’ve got to be really entertaining. The daytime landscape already has Jerry Springer, Maury, and these other guys — it’s high-stakes and loud and crazy. We’re trying to integrate a lot of production value, we’re trying to bring in situations that you may be able to connect to. While some of the other shows will bring people out and let all hell break loose before going to commercial, our goal is always to have Robert try to help these people find a resolution. There are takeaways that people can apply [at home].

There’s also competition in the sense that you’re in a different time with streaming and so many other options during the day. Could you have predicted such a competitive landscape ten years ago? 

I guess I’ve always been ‘who knows what’s going to happen?’. I didn’t have the insight ten or fifteen years ago to know that so many people were going to be off their television and watching things on their iPad, streaming on the internet. To me it’s really kind of an exciting place to be in, and we’re just trying to figure out how to redirect things and attract these people. What we’re trying to do with that show is try to find ways to reinvent the wheel as much as possible.

Robert is a huge piece in this. I think to a certain extent, people are watching the show because of who the host is.

Do you think all of that competition raises the game at all? Or, is it hard to say that because you’re already giving 100% anyway?

It’s no question that the more crowded the landscape the more diffused the audience gets. That makes it more of a challenge, but the way we look at it is that we just gotta do it better than anybody else.

How much collaboration is there with Robert behind the scenes?

We’re constantly going back and forth on all of it and little things. Robert has a large say in how we put the show together.

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Irwin currently has several other upcoming projects lined up, including some upcoming comedy specials and reality series. Hopefully, we’ll have more on those at a later date.

If you look below, you can see Irvine himself laying out his vision for the show in the attached video. (Photo: The Robert Irvine Show.)

 

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