WTTW’s “Check, Please” bounced out after 20 years

WTTW announced the 20th season of Check Please would be its last

One of Chicago television’s longest-running shows is closing its doors after two decades on the air.

WTTW announced Wednesday the end of Check, Please, one of the PBS member station’s longest running local shows in its history.

“This upcoming season, as ‘Check, Please!’ leaves our schedule, we look forward to bringing local documentaries, storytelling, and trusted and independent news to our audience,” WTTW wrote to the Chicago Tribune in an e-mail.

But a statement posted by producer David Manilow in the Check Please online newsletter suggested WTTW was looking to move on from the show.  “I’d like to say our upcoming 20th milestone season will be our best one ever!  However, WTTW/11 and I want to go in different directions and pursue other opportunities, so it’s just not to be.  (Stay tuned)!” Additionally, he told the Tribune he was hopeful for another season of Check, Please but it appears WTTW officials weren’t interested.

Neither WTTW or Manilow elaborated on when the 20th season of Check, Please would premiere or when the show exactly would air its final episode, but assumingly it would be sometime in 2022.

The cancellation comes after another local eatery show was sacked just weeks ago. Nexstar-owned independent WGN-TV pulled the plug on Chicago’s Best after thirteen years on the air in order to expand the station’s weeknight sports show GN Sports to weekends.

Not helping either show was the pandemic, as stay-at-home orders forced local restaurants to close and forced to offer take-out and delivery options instead. Many eateries in the Chicago area never reopened.

The program’s format consisted of three pundits – everyday Chicagoans who were not part of the restaurant industry- would visit eateries separately, and then discuss their dining experiences with the host of the show. One of those pundits who appeared on Check Please in 2001 would obviously go on to bigger and better things:

Amanda Puck was host for the first two seasons of Check, Please and was succeeded by Alpana Singh in 2003 but left the show in 2013 to focus running her restaurant in the Chicago area. WTTW embarked on a months-long search for her successor and settled on Catherine De Orio, whose credentials included running her own culinary consulting company. Similar to Jeopardy’s recent host search, WTTW received an unusual amount of publicity to find Singh’s successor – especially for a Friday night show, an evening most people generally don’t watch a whole lot of television. The only difference between Jeopardy’s host search and Check Please’s is WTTW didn’t throw guest hosts on the air for weeks on end pretending to find Singh’s replacement.

Singh returned as host in 2018.

While both Chicago Best and Check, Please have ended, some form of eatery programming is still represented on local television. Created during the pandemic amid stay-at-home orders, Weigel’s CW26 airs #chicagofoodtogo Sunday mornings at 11:30 a.m., focusing on Chicago restaurants’ take-out and delivery options. And NBC 5 (WMAQ) recently hired former ABC 7 (WLS-TV) food critic Steve Dolinsky to appear once a week on their Thursday night 10 p.m. newscasts.

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