In a Thursday Facebook Live session, the winner of ABC’s “The Great America Baking Show,” Vallery Lomas, directly addressed sexual misconduct accusations against one of the show’s judges that derailed the cooking competition’s third season.
But during the audience Q&A, a network publicist who moderated the session seemed to skip viewer comments and questions about the accusations, sticking only to questions related to cooking.
“I thought maybe I hadn’t connected with people because no one was asking about it,” Lomas later told TheWrap. “And then I heard afterward that people were commenting and asking questions about it.”
On Dec. 13, ABC pulled the show’s third season from its schedule after only one episode had aired, following the publication of a Mic article in which four former employees accused star judge Johnny Iuzzini of groping and other nonconsensual contact.
Instead of airing the remaining episodes, the network revealed Lomas as the winner on the show’s Facebook page on Thursday. The announcement also included an invitation to a Facebook Live session with Lomas later in the evening.
Lomas said she felt it was important to address the accusations that led to the show’s cancellation and discussed what she planned on saying with the network’s publicist. The publicist, “didn’t seem too enthusiastic about it,” she said. But she didn’t stop her either.
“Unfortunately because of the actions of Johnny Iuzzini, we are not able to broadcast the show as was originally planned,” Lomas told viewers at the beginning of the live stream. “The allegations, they were very serious and I think that we all take them very seriously. As a woman, I’ve experienced harassment myself.”
“I’m glad we’re galvanizing behind this issue,” she went on to say. “The actions of Johnny not only have they hurt the women that were in the kitchen with him, but it has spread to the other contestants, the crew, and myself.”
The Q&A session lasted less than 15 minutes, during which Lomas was only provided with audience questions about cooking. However, several questions and comments about the accusations can be seen in the FBL event’s comment section.
“Sorry this cast a shadow in your win. And that viewers didn’t get to see your whole season,” one viewer wrote.
“I want to see your episodes!! Please ABC,” wrote another. A third commenter wrote: “so disappointed on them not airing the show.”
A rep for ABC declined to comment, but a network insider told TheWrap “the purpose was to promote Vallery’s success and nothing else.”
Adding to the confusion, the show’s Facebook page went down as soon as the broadcast ended, and remained offline for more than two hours. A network spokesman said the timing of the outage was a coincidence, and that it was solely due to a technical issue.
Based on the hit British series “The Great British Bake-Off,” “The Great American Baking Show” was hosted by Ayesha Curry and former NFL star Anthony “Spice” Adams.
Iuzzini served as judge alongside baker Paul Hollywood, who also starred in the original British version of the show.