Awards Daily TV talks to the producers of VH1’s Emmy®-nominated Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party about pairing two unlikely partners.
It’s the most unlikely pairing. Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg. Still, Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party has been a huge smash on VH1 and is an entertainment cooking show with a difference. Stewart and Snoop Dogg go back years. They appeared together and had people falling over in laughter over their chemistry for the Roasting of Justin Bieber. Together, they now rule the airwaves cooking dishes, hosting guests, and feeding their audience. It’s one big house party, and this season, the show received a nomination for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality Competition.
I caught up with Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party executive producers SallyAnn Salsano (495 Productions), Kim Miller-Olko (Sequential Brands Group) and Ted Chung (Merry Jane) to talk about the show, its message, and just what makes this different from any other show out there.
I was just saying to Kim how I was at the roundtable the other month. It’s one thing seeing Martha and Snoop on TV. It’s an entirely different thing seeing them in person. That chemistry and that rapport. How on earth do you come up with the concept of Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg, the oddest couple, yet incredibly addictive and brilliantly funny?
Ted: I think the impetus was that Sally-Ann and 495 had the idea for a cooking show. Seeing these instances of Martha and Snoop together whether it’s on the Justin Bieber roast or Snoop appearing on The Martha Stewart Show, they had a great relationship, and they were brought up as ideas for hosts of the cooking show.
We spoke to Kim, and we sat down with Martha and Snoop. Thus, the idea of making it like a dinner party was born. They wanted to make sure the audience felt like they were invited to a private event at their house and were sitting down at the table with real music and everyone contributing. After a very short debate, the name Potluck Dinner Party was born. Now you’ve got this amazing show.
SallyAnn: That’s basically the story, and like you said about seeing them in person, the truth of the matter is sometimes you do these pairings such as Regis and Kathie Lee who then become wonderful. This wasn’t like that. I will say from my point of view, and I think Kim and Ted will agree, when you have two such mega-brands such as Martha and Snoop and people who are of worldwide stardom, you have to wonder what it’s going to be like to manage these two. I have to tell you, this is the easiest.
Kim knows Martha like the back of her hand, and Ted knows Snoop like the back of his hand. Everyone in the camp trusts everyone. Snoop respects and honors Martha’s creativity, and Martha does the same to Snoop. Martha will have ideas about the music she wants to hear. I’ll pitch it to creative, and no one says to stay in your lane. This is one giant highway that everyone drives down, and it’s such a smooth ride.
Kim: The fact that we come from such different worlds, you can’t get any more different. That is why it almost works so smoothly is because the point of views are so unique and everyone respects them because it’s such a hodgepodge of different personalities that just works. It’s magic. The other thing is that Martha and Snoop have such respect for each other and a real caring and that takes over the whole infrastructure of making the show work.
What happened when you told them about the show idea?
Kim: Martha told me that the agent had gone to her. She loved Snoop. She was game for it right away. Like I said, she was more on board. I was the one wondering what it would be like working with Snoop’s team and his executives. We’re such a different brand, and that’s been a wonderful surprise that everybody has become good friends. She never wavered, and she knew she wanted to do it the minute her agent called her.
SallyAnn: Even in pitching segments, it’s the same way. It was, “If Snoop is in, then so am I.” Snoop would say the same, and they both knew what to get from each other. I think they love and respect each other so much that they work harder around each other.
Martha is genuinely interested in learning from Snoop about music and cooking. When you see Snoop does something, and you see Martha raise an eyebrow, I’ll get tingly inside.
Martha will sometimes talk about sushi or a crazy cooking technique and Snoop will want her to back up. He’s in it. He goes home that night and does it with his family because he’s so stoked about it. They really are learning.
I think the reason why both their careers continue to get bigger and bigger is because they are two people that like to learn. They are learning from each other. Ted as you said, when Snoop walked in the first day he said, what did he say to Martha?
Ted: He said, “Teach me how to learn.”
SallyAnn: And that was it, and that’s been our motto since day one.
Ted: Martha is also masterful in creating instructional and cultural cooking pieces. For Snoop and myself, when we started thinking about the idea before Kim, Martha, Snoop, and I sat down and brainstormed as to what this could be. Snoop’s whole thing was to let him do what he does. He wanted to rely on Martha’s expertise, rely on Sally Ann’s production and team to make a great show, but he wanted his team to bring in the fun and culture and to add a whole twist to it so that it has that Snoopified element to it. That’s where the intersection of these two worlds of people who are masterful in their own way and with their own unique audiences, when you bring them all together, that’s the coolest part. Everyone is learning from each other.
If Snoop walks into Target, he’ll have people come up to him. He can’t move because he’s bombarded by mothers and housewives. It’s a whole new demographic that Martha’s world has introduced him to.
It’s probably happened to Martha too. All these hip-hop artists talk about her and have her involved in helping promote their music.
Kim: She’s invited to a lot of different parties now.
SallyAnn: The thing that was interesting for me is that sometimes you’re watching episodes in the edit bay. We had a recent episode with Diddy, Usher, and Lala Anthony and Diddy came out and said, “You know Martha, you were the first one. You had hip-hop on your show before everybody had hip-hop mainstream.”
Looking back, it’s so true. Martha said, “I’m a fan of the music.” We wonder what Martha’s life is like, but at the end of the day she’s listening to everything. She has her pulse on what’s happening and what’s cool. Snoop finds stuff in an underground stage. Snoop and Ted will say they want someone on the show, and we get on it to make it happen. We hear the song, and think it’s going to hit. When that show airs four weeks later, that song is playing on the radio.
That combination, I feel we’re in front of what’s going to happen.
Watching them together is so entertaining. Martha Stewart is listing off these hip names.
Kim: She was friends with Usher even before the show, and it is part of who she is except no one ever realized it before this.
“This country is about people that like each other and have similar interests, sitting down, breaking bread, eating a meal, and having fun. If more people did that, we’d be a much better place.”
SallyAnn: I’m not giving her a background paper on who Usher is. She’s like, “Oh no, we go way back.” She is really in the know.
Then you go to the flip side with Snoop and tell him we’re cooking fish, and he’ll say he likes to cook it a certain way. On both sides, you have this guy who is a dude, who loves to eat, he has a family, and he loves his kids. He’ll say one of his favorite things is to cook stuff and hang out with his kids. It’s interesting because he has a style of cooking, and she has a style of music. It’s something you don’t expect from either one of them.
They continue to surprise each other and then the audiences. It’s crazy to watch live because on TV you’re always assuming if that’s what they’re really like. They’re like this but fifty times more comfortable in person.
It’s a revelation, and you’re learning about them. What have been some highlights for you?
Kim: Martha dancing more. In Season 1, she was just watching everyone. This year, there’s been a few times where she danced with Diddy, and she’s putting herself out there more.
SallyAnn: Martha with a grill was great. That’s going to go down in history.
Kim: There were a few episodes when the audience were chanting Martha like they were chugging the beer. She drank the Colt 45 from the bottle, and the audience was going crazy.
SallyAnn: Snoop singing for the romantic dinner episode and his duet with Craig Robinson was amazing.
Ted: That was hilarious.
SallyAnn: Patti LaBelle singing with Snoop and Martha singing Happy Birthday will go down in history. Snoop and Wendy Williams feeding Martha her first bite of government cheese is an all-time favorite moment for me.
Are you finding guests are lining up to be on the show?
Ted: Everywhere we go. We go to the functions and awards shows, and it’s the first thing every actor and actress says. They want to come on the show. That’s such a common denominator among everyone, gathering your friends, cooking, and having a great time.
Kim: Everyone wants to be invited to the coolest party in town.
SallyAnn: Not only that, every show you try to organize how everyone is going to get to the show. With this, Diddy drives himself. These guys want to come and they’ll drive over.
Kim: Jamie Foxx in the gold plated car.
SallyAnn: They treat it as if they’re going for dinner. That’s a great thing about this show is the way the audience is fed too.
Kim: That was so important to Snoop. He said that he didn’t want people watching him eat.
SallyAnn: When it first happened, I said, “I didn’t know as we’d have to plan the budget.” So, Snoop asked if I liked to cook. Of course, I do, I love to cook. He turned to me and said, “When you invite people over to your house and you cook, you don’t put a plate in front of them?” The audience was getting fed. We treated it like a house and the whole thing changed. It was 100 percent the right call.
It’s a little bit like running a catering hall. We are officially feeding 100 people twice a day. That kitchen in the back is like they’re serving at a sit-down wedding. Whatever they cook on set that you see, the exact replicas of those recipes are happening backstage in real time.
That kitchen was wild to see. Seeing everyone cook back there was wild. So, let me ask, what’s your favorite potluck dish?
SallyAnn: I don’t get to taste much of their stuff, but there are two things from watching the edit. One thing I made the other night was the white fish that Snoop made with sour cream and onion potato chips. He’ll break them with his hands and uses them as breadcrumbs, then he bakes them. I wondered what on earth it was, but I’ll tell you what it was. It was delicious.
The other thing I made was Martha’s mac n’ cheese. It’s her most downloaded of all recipes, and I will tell you that I made it and it’s really good. That’s all I’ve made and ventured out in. I also made Uncle Rio’s potato salad, and it’s amazing.
Kim: It’s amazing. It’s a cross between deviled eggs and potato salad and heaven.
Ted: With whipped cream. You have to try to see how Snoop makes bacon.
SallyAnn: I do that.
Ted: Everybody loves it. It’s a unique way, and it brings crispiness to it all. That’s the thing I’ll take to breakfast at weekends.
This show is a great message for the country.
SallyAnn: They are two people who are legitimately friends, and it doesn’t matter how old, how young, what you do for a living, race, color, or creed. This country is about people that like each other and have similar interests, sitting down, breaking bread, eating a meal, and having fun. If more people did that, we’d be a much better place.
Kim: Thank God. VH1 has faith in us all to do it.
Consider Martha and Snoop: Potluck Dinner Party in your voting for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality Competition