Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Barefoot Diva

I wonder how Ina Garten is going to explain this one when she arrives to gain entry past the Pearly Gates.

Garten, the syrupy-sweet, giggling "Barefoot Contessa" on the Food Network, has surpassed a line that you cross at your own risk.

When it comes to kids and animals, one must tread very lightly.

When it comes to kids dying of cancer, it's no time to trot out traditional acts of avoidance.

An "I'm really busy here, ask me later" doesn't get it this time.

Garten has been ducking the advances of six-year-old Enzo, who's suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, something which will almost certainly kill him, sooner rather than later.

Enzo, through the terrific Make-a-Wish Foundation, has not once but twice requested that he be able to cook a meal with Garten.

Seems that Enzo became infatuated with Garten and her show while he watched TV with his mother, who tuned into "Barefoot Contessa" regularly.

I'll let TMZ.com pick up the story from here.

M.A.W. approached Garten with the wish last year ... but at the time, she was unable to meet with Enzo due to a book tour. The organization urged Enzo to pick another wish, but he told them he wanted to wait until she becomes available.

We're told the organization went back to Ina this year ... but her team responded with a "definite no" ... once again, citing scheduling conflicts.

Not just a "no," but a "definite no."

Sheesh.

Garten's people keep citing scheduling conflicts, and they say that she "can't honor every request."

Umm, how many requests is she getting from six-year-olds with a terminal disease?

After reading Enzo's story, I couldn't help but think of New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez, who was so touched by a young fan's adoration of him---that kid has cancer, too---that, without being nagged, Sanchez all but adopted the boy. Sanchez flew him to a Jets practice, had him meet all the players, get autographs, and let the kid sit at Sanchez's locker, just taking it all in.

The smile on the boy's face went from Maine to California.

Not only that, Sanchez routinely called the boy, sometimes right after games, wondering what the youngster thought of the game. Sanchez would call at other times, too, just to chat.

Sadly, the boy who adored Sanchez passed away earlier this year.

Sanchez, it was reported, took the death pretty hard.

So Garten's boorish behavior does have its inverse, thankfully.

I can appreciate the need for a celebrity to prioritize requests, though I'm not sure Garten is getting all that many, but there you go.

But at what point do you put someone at the front of the line? Doesn't that ever occur to the "people" who are charged with the task of managing their boss's agenda?

And why didn't Garten herself overrule her minions and say, "Whoa---we need to address Enzo's request?"

The cruel irony is that Garten's people keep citing not enough time as their reasoning for rebuffing Enzo's advances, yet if anyone is running short on time, it's the six-year-old with cancer!

According to TMZ, a member of Enzo's family says the 6-year-old is heartbroken ... and asked parents, "Why doesn't (Garten) want to meet me?"


The horrible Garten (left) and six-year-old cancer patient Enzo


The MAW Foundation says that Enzo has finally changed his request to swimming with dolphins, which the Foundation is working on as we speak.

I don't know if Garten and her staff figured that this shameful denial of Enzo's innocent request would never see the light of day. Nothing doesn't see the light of day anymore, it seems, which is good and bad.

In this case, it's very good.

It's good that this came to light, because the more people who realize that Ina Garten is a fraud, the better.

According to one of Garten's reps, "Despite her demanding schedule, [Ina] participates and helps as many organizations as she can throughout the year, helping children and adults like Enzo with life threatening and compromising illnesses. "

Actions speak louder than words, lady.

Thankfully, there are athletes/celebrities like Mark Sanchez, and like actor Johnny Depp, who is famous for his eagerness to engage fans and surprise them with acts of kindness.

Then, of course, there are those like Ina Garten, who has smiled, winked and giggled her way to a fortune making hoity-toity French food on The Food Network.

Now we know that behind that smile and hidden behind those irritating giggles is a person whose heart is as cold as dry ice.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall when Ms. Garten is called out on this one by the man upstairs.

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UPDATE (3/31/11): Garten changed her mind and reconsidered, but Enzo's family turned her down!

Read about it here.

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