Channel Surfing
By Laura Nachman

April 5, 2001



For Philadelphia’s Christina Pirello, entering her fifth season as star of the PBS series “Christina Cooks,” cooking is not just for a television show, but an entire way of life.  Pirello, author of “Cooking the Whole Foods Way,” and “Cook Your Way to the Life You Want,” believes that her macrobiotics diet saved her life.  “When I was 26, I was diagnosed with terminal leukemia.  Since I was afraid of needles, I decided to try an alternative approach to treating the disease.  With the help of a good friend, who later became my husband (Robert), I changed my diet to whole foods—grains, produce, beans, tofu, and things close to the land. I was cancer-free within 15 months.” 

Now almost twenty years later, Christina and Robert Pirello run the production company “Christina Enterprises,” the magazine, “Christina Cooks,” and the web site  If that’s not enough, Christina is also an instructor at Drexel University and conducts seminars nationwide, making her one of the country’s most popular celebrity chefs. 

 How did this happen? “Around six years ago, after hearing about us from a friend, Ray Murray and Jan Dickler, the owners of Philadelphia’s Banyan Productions attended one of my cooking classes.  Working with Banyan, we took the idea to PBS, secured an underwriter (Eden Foods, the country’s largest independent producer of organic foods), brought a “treatment episode” to a PBS convention and were picked up by 55 affiliates.”  Now five years later, “Christina Cooks” which is produced at WHYY studios in Philadelphia is seen on 125 PBS stations.

Pirello is determined to make America healthier. “What’s happening with mad-cow disease is just a tip of the iceberg.”  We are in more trouble than we can suspect,” she said.  Her three main culprits are chemical additives, white sugar, and animal foods.  “If we can devote just one hour a day to a healthy meal, the other 23 hours would be so much better.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could have peanut butter that actually has peanuts in it, or jam that has real fruit in it?”

The new season of “Christina Cooks” debuts Saturday, May 5th on PBS at 11 AM.  Guests throughout the season include actor Dirk Benedict, Nell Newman – daughter of Paul Newman – and owner of Newman’s Own Organics, and Sixer Todd McCullough.

Part one of the mini-series about Thomas Capano and Anne Marie Fahey,“And Never Let Her Go,” earned a 15.3 rating/21 share for KYW-3 Sunday night.  Nationally, it got an 8.8 rating/13 share.  Part two starring Mark Harmon concludes Wednesday.  

On April 6th, fans at Great Adventure will be lining up for “Eden’s Crush.”  It’s not the amusement park’s latest ride, but the made-for-television musical group of WB’s “Popstars” who’ll be performing in their first east coast concert at 7 PM.

Congratulations to Fox-Philadelphia’s “Good Day Philadelphia” which celebrated its fifth anniversary on April 2nd.  In the February ratings, the local program hosted by Mike Jerrick and Donya Archer almost tied the CBS “Morning Show” for third place behind “Good Morning America” and “The Today Show.”   

“Good Day’s” Janet Zappala was on HBO recently playing herself in the 1993 straight-to-video thriller “Dangerous Touch” with Lou Diamond Phillips. Phillips asked Zappala to be in the film after she interviewed him while working for the E! Network in the early 90’s.  Zappala also played a news anchor in “12 Monkeys” which was filmed in Philadelphia and is working on the independent film “Casanova’s Demise,” playing…a news anchor.

Sixers superstar Allen Iverson can be seen on HBO every week as part of the opening credits for the new Bob Costas program “On the Record” Wednesdays at 11 PM. 

The newest reporter on NBC-10 is a familiar face, Kim Adams, formerly of KYW-3, and most recently the court correspondent for the “Judge Mills Lane Show” now on hiatus.