TV

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Oprah bags buddies' cooking show for OWN network

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Everyone knows Oprah Winfrey loves BFFs.

It's safe to say that friendship helped Vancouver's Anna Wallner and Kristina Matisic nail a sweet spot on Oprah's OWN (network) launch last month. The network signed their TV series, Anna & Kristina's Grocery Bag, for two years.

In the show, they test cookbooks and kitchen products, and sometimes lose decorum in gut-splitting laughter, the stuff of well-aged friendships.

The two met as journalists at Global TV in the mid-1990s and left their plum jobs about 10 years ago to be their own bosses. They created the precursor to Anna & Kristina's Grocery Bag called The Shopping Bags. Sure, they have made-for-camera good looks but spirited sass and a very real relationship are what make the show work.

OWN approached them, they say. "They'd been watching the show and were interested in acquiring it," says Wallner. "When we finally came to an agreement, we were thrilled and excited to be part of it."

After confirming the deal, the pair high-fived, hugged and went back to shoot another episode.

The deal means Grocery Bag now airs in 35 countries and reaches 80 million homes in the U.S. as well as on W Network in Canada.

"It was obviously a significant deal for us," says Wallner. "Being part of the launch brings with it publicity and cachet."

Wallner and Matisic own the show, produce it and sell it.

Their appeal isn't in their cooking prowess. It's in the klutzy Julia Child-esque moments and their chutzpah in taking on challenging menus and serving the results to the savviest of chefs. Sometimes, chefs are impressed, sometimes, they're speechless in trying not to diss their cooking.

"I dropped a chicken last night," says Wallner, channelling Child and agreeing that their kitchen is a no-pro zone.

They've tackled recipes from Thomas Keller and Alain Ducasse but their bête noire is pastry. "I hate making pastry dough," says Matisic.

"I gotta say, pastry eludes us," says Wallner.

So far, so has Oprah. They once were invited on her show but they were bumped by another guest. "We're still hoping to meet her," they say.

In Canada, Anna & Kristina's Grocery Bag airs on W Network every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 26, 2011 E4

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