Bourdain to Jump Ship to CNN

By Karen

I haven’t written about Anthony Bourdain lately because No Reservations is leaving me meh, but attention must be paid to today’s announcement that No Res is wrapping up after current Season 8 and he’ll be leaving Travel Channel after filming one more season of The Layover. In 2013 he’ll begin a Sunday prime-time series on CNN and become a domestic and international commentator.

Here at Cats Working, we’ve been saying for a long time that he’s too good for TC, but I’m not sure CNN is good enough for Bourdain. What do you think?

This just in (5/30): The CNN arrangement calls for Bourdain to produce 8 shows in 2 seasons each year, or a total of 16 episodes. Will an 8-week “season” be enough to  hook viewers so they’ll remember to return 6 months later for more? Hmmm…

Bizarre Food’s Andrew Zimmern, who’s been lately talking like Bourdain’s mini-me, must be giddy at the prospect of inheriting Tony’s crown as the “grand old man” of TC.

CNN’s news release describes Tony’s as-yet-unnamed program as one that “will be shot on location and examine cultures from around the world through their food and dining and travel rituals.”

I certainly hope this implies something more substantive than another opportunity for Tony to globe-trot, eat, drink, and shoot his mouth off.

Will CNN try to rein in Bourdain’s tendencies to stir up controversy? At last weekend’s Great GoogaMooga Festival in Brooklyn, Tony talked about doing unspeakable (if well-deserved) things to Dick Cheney and expressed a desire to soak an Olive Garden in gasoline so he could burn it to the ground over its pasta-cooking techniques.

Apparently, he’s forgotten the heartfelt review of the new Grand Forks Olive Garden that got him so misty-eyed, he handed a publishing deal to its 85-year-old author that’s probably doomed to produce a book to make Garrison Keillor seem like a pornographer in comparison.

Gothamist did a good job of putting Tony’s kind gesture into its proper Photoshopped perspective.

Tony’s long-awaited graphic novel, Get Jiro! is finally coming out July 3.

And someone is adapting his first novel, Bone in the Throat, into a movie.

Bourdain received an honorary Clio Award on May 15. I congratulate him, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around the rationale behind it.

I’d say Bourdain’s career has hit critical mass. Like Paula Deen, whatever he touches, whether past, present or future, is destined to turn to gold.

Speaking of Paula, Tony tried to clarify that he objects to her misleading fans and profiting richly from diabetes, while Paula and her kids disingenuously spin it that Bourdain blames her for having diabetes.


A few other things I’ve collected that may interest you:

Tony told Eater he’s still considering the year-in-Vietnam book, but opened the possibility of relocating it to Italy. YES, YES! Eater “gets” Tony, and their interview is well worth reading. In 2 parts.

Here are the first batch of books Tony has chosen to publish under his new Ecco imprint.

Ottavia’s become a celebrity in her own special niche. Here’s are some links to video interviews on how she got into MMA.

39 Responses to Bourdain to Jump Ship to CNN

  1. Zappa's Mom says:

    GGGrrrrrr…why won’t my comment load?

  2. catsworking says:

    Weird, ZM. The comments itself wouldn’t load, but the GGGrrr did. I have been having problems with disappearing cursor in WordPress lately myself.

  3. adele says:

    One of the things I’ve always liked on No Reservations has been the window into countries I’ll never see and that view presented by someone, who’s not a hardened journalist. For that reason, I look forward to the jump to CNN. However, I do worry that CNN will be less laissez-faire than Travel Channel was, and I fear that they may censor more.

    BTW, regarding the Great Googa Mooga, I haven’t been able to get the image of Dick Cheney’s Kentucky Fried head out of my mind, and I loved Tony’s answer to a little girl, who wanted to know the best way to cook a unicorn — I remember it was “braise this, roast this, etc. and use the horn as a toothpick.” Great response.

  4. Zappa's Mom says:

    Im all for the year in Italy through AB’s eyes! I look forward to reading that

  5. Bacardi1 says:

    I’m not a CNN fan, but that’s not the worst of this move for me. The Sunday morning time slot simply doesn’t work for me – even from a recording standpoint. In addition, since it’s going to be in a morning time slot, I do think Tony is going to have to be more careful to mind his p’s & q’s, which may be a bit stifling. Hope it isn’t too apparent, as it’s his laizzez-faire manner of discussion that has made his shows appealing (at least for me).

    Oh well. I have all of his “No Reservations” recorded or on dvd’s, so can relive fond memories whenever I want.

  6. catsworking says:

    Bacardi, “prime time” is not morning. It’s evening. Like around 8 p.m. But since it’s when kids are still watching TV, Bourdain will definitely have to clean up his act. Maybe this is his way of shedding the “bad boy” image for good. And even though CNN is the news channel nobody watches, I think the name does have more stature than Travel Channel.

    But I’d have been happier if he’d joined his friend Eric Ripert at PBS.

    Last night I was catching up on the Penang and Baja episodes of No Reservations and, although I felt I’d already been there, done that with him in both places, I was glad I’ve got the whole series on DVD because I’m sure there will come a day when I will miss the “old Tony” and watch some of them again. Watching him eat has lost its charm for me, but I almost always enjoy his insightful (or snarky) voiceovers.

  7. Bacardi1 says:

    Thanks for the correction! My bad – for some reason thought it was going to be on Sunday mornings. That seemed to be a stretch – even for a “reformed” Tony – lol!

    PBS is nice, & I enjoy their shows, but their scheduling is spotty (at least around here) & for some reason they don’t always show what’s scheduled. Have yet to catch or even see Eric’s show scheduled (maybe we don’t get it on the PBS channels available to us here), & poor Sara Moulton – who I love – only seems to get her show aired every few weeks or so. Very oddball. Can’t see Tony wanting to get involved with that, especially since both PBS & NPR are under such funding strains now.

    Will have to remember to catch the “new” Tony next year on CNN. Hope it doesn’t clash with “Mad Men” – pretty much my only other “must see” show on tv – lol!

  8. catsworking says:

    Bacardi, I’ve only caught Ripert’s show twice. It comes on here Saturday afternoons (or it did — have no idea if it’s still on) and that’s just not a time I’m ever watching TV, unless Adele (the cat) is yowling to watch horse racing.

    PBS is my Saturday night date, beginning with (gulp!) Lawrence Welk, then a string of Britcoms, most of which I’ve seen multiple times, but are still better than what passes for entertainment on American TV.

    Since our newspaper made the complete weekly TV listings a separate subscription add-on (which I refuse to buy on principle), I’ve relied on Verizon’s stupid on-screen listings, which are one step from utterly useless. I’m sure I miss a lot of good programs simply because if I don’t happen to surf into them or catch a stray ad, I don’t know about them.

    I was thinking about Tony’s competition on Sunday nights as well. In addition to Mad Men, he may be up against Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. If his new show doesn’t offer something substantively different from his last 3 shows (Cook’s Tour, No Res, Layover), which is Tony walking around eating and drinking, I’m afraid he’s toast. He’s already been to most of the spots people really want to see — multiple times, in some cases — so he MUST find a new slant.

    I’m hoping he really starts digging deep into the vast store of cultural knowledge he has certainly acquired in all his travels and doesn’t limit himself to food — again.

    The announcement said his team at Zero Point Zero will be producing this new show. Yes, they’ve done a great job. But I don’t think it bodes particularly well for mustering a fresh mindset on what they’re doing with Bourdain.

  9. catsworking says:

    Gawker has misgivings about the suitability of a union between Bourdain and CNN:

  10. Bacardi1 says:

    Have to admit that I agree with at least 90% of what Gawker had to say about it.

  11. MorganLF says:

    Sunday prime time does not work for me! Its fully booked starting w/ 60 Minutes then on to Game of Thrones (or what ever series is running on HBO) then Mad Men at 10- then back to HBO they pack Sundays.

    I despair of seeing Mr. B ever again!

  12. Bacardi1 says:

    Well, luckily as far as “Mad Men” goes, they repeat it 3-4 times during the same night, so if there’s something conflicting I want to watch, I record “Mad Men” at one of its later times.

  13. catsworking says:

    Morgan, all is not lost. They’re repeating Bourdain’s show on CNN on Saturday night.

    He has been quoted hoping his current fans will follow him to CNN and picking up new fans. I’ll watch him on CNN, but everything I’m reading indicates the format will be the same old, same old. Sure, he may have access to more dangerous and controversial locations, but watching him get in just to eat doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

    As far as picking up new fans…on CNN? Definitely a long shot, since it’s not known for lifestyle programming.

    Bacardi, I usually tape Mad Men on Sunday night so I can watch it on Monday, but I was away and missed it twice. Fortunately, Verizon On Demand finally let loose with the first one I missed, where Don and Joan went out for drinks and Megan went berserko on him when he got home, which seemed totally out of character for her. I think it’s leading up to her landing a decent stage role that keeps her out every night, or a chance to do TV in Hollywood, and being forced to leave him. There’s no way that marriage can last.

  14. Bacardi1 says:

    Re: “Mad Men”. Oh, agree. Frankly, I couldn’t see the Don/Megan matrimony to begin with. It was obviously a desparate suddenly-single Don rebound thing. Now I definitely could see Don with Joan, & wouldn’t that put a major twist into both their relationships with Roger!!

  15. catsworking says:

    Bacardi, I thought Don marrying Megan was a big mistake, but I figured he’d turn her into another Betty. She’s not going in that direction, though. She’s too independent, and isn’t into the white picket fence in the ‘burbs with successful, handsome husband dream the way Betty was. Divorce seems inevitable.

    Now, Don and Joan… wouldn’t that be something? Could happen. Maybe Roger and Pete will enter in to a murder/suicide pact.

  16. Bacardi1 says:

    Pete Campbell continues to be an enigma. He started out as a conniving weasel, but then seemed to start turning into a fairly decent guy there for awhile. Now he seems to be back in weasel-dom.

  17. Zappa's Mom says:

    I figure Pete Campbell for a spectacular self-destruction,being grabbed off a ledge and carted off in a straitjacket. When Betty finally divorces the politician,she is going to start smoking pot and move to Haight-Ashbury,leaving Don to raise the kids alone.

  18. Bacardi1 says:

    You’re obviously not a fan – lol!!

  19. catsworking says:

    ZM, good call! I think Betty is heading for big-time bulimia. The Reddi-wip binge and purge must have given her ideas.

    Poor Pete. Since Episode 1, there’s no way his story can end well. Nobody likes to see the office weasel triumph.

    Still haven’t seen the episode where they sold Joan to Jaguar, but I think I caught last night’s on tape so I can watch it tonight.

  20. Bacardi1 says:

    Here’s a link to an article from today’s NYT’s “Dining” section on Bourdain’s move to CNN:

  21. catsworking says:

    Bacardi, thanks for the link. Bourdain also blogged about it. It sounds like he and Zero Point Zero are planning to continue the No Res format, only in dicier locations. I’m not sure what he hopes to accomplish, nor how deeply untapped the well is of foodies dying to find out what people who live in more dangerous places eat. Personally, I’m indifferent.

    Bourdain keeps calling himself a “storyteller.” Yes, he does some with his voiceover writing, which is quite often brilliant. But the visual story can invariably be summed up as, “I eat breakfast, I eat lunch, I eat dinner, I eat after a night of drinking, and I drink with every meal, and then some.”

    Not to diss the cinematography. I think it was in Lisbon, they caught a breathtaking shot of this huge bubble at night, and then two locals were talking about something (what was it?) that brought me almost to tears. It’s been a while since any segment of his show has touched me like that.

    I guess I’m hoping with CNN he dares to go beyond food and delves a bit more into the culture and psyche of the places he visits.

  22. adele says:

    OMG. And now Bourdain and Nigella are doing a cooking competition show for ABC. I’m gobsmacked.

  23. Bacardi1 says:

    Good Lord!!! Can anyone say “Holy Overexposure”?

    (And I can’t stand Nigella Lawson!)

  24. catsworking says:

    Holy crap! I just saw this video promo for the new show…

    It sounds like reheated Top Chef, but the contestants may get some mentoring from pros and won’t exactly be left to swing in the breeze. And Tony lands another gig for all his restaurant BFFs. Let’s see: Mario Batali, Eric Ripert, David Chang, probably Emeril, maybe even Gabrielle Hamilton (Blood, Bones & Butter).

    I’ve never watched Nigella, but it looks like she’s got more in the brain pan than that idiot Padma Lakshmi. But I wonder how Bourdain watered down for network TV is going to go over. Can’t blame him for grabbing the money while he can, but if he thinks he’s going to raise the bar on cooking competition on ABC, I think he’s in for a big let-down.

    Like Tony once said about Zimmern, I give it one season.

  25. adele says:

    I actually like Nigella. I’ve made a few recipes of hers, and they’re easy and clever — like Caesar Salad with crisp roasted potatoes rather than croutons. But I wonder what kind of chemistry she and Tony will have, and I wonder how either of them will fit in network TV. (not that they’re not both good to look at)

    And haven’t we reached the saturation point for cooking competition shows?

  26. Bacardi1 says:

    I rarely, if ever, watch network tv, so most likely won’t even be catching this bomb.

    But as for Nigella – she’s neither a chef nor even a cook. Her original gig was something along the lines of “lifestyle consultant”, or something like that. Then when cooking suddenly leapt into the forefront, she equally suddenly became some sort of bizarre “cooking consultant”.

    I find her personality grating, cloying, pretentious, & condescending; & her recipes – Lord knows where she gets them from; they can’t be hers since her cooking experience is uber-light – idiotic.

    Gee – can you tell that I’m not a fan? Lol!

  27. adele says:

    Bacardi, Nigella doesn’t grate at me the way she does you; I agree, she’s no professional cook, but I tend to like odd English desserts and some Indian and Asian flavors, and I think she makes those accessible.

    I wonder if she’s going to mentor people on the new TV show — it doesn’t seem that her cooking experience would lend itself to that. Six or eight years ago, I would have been excited about Nigella and Tony doing a show together. Now, I can’t imagine that there’s any new ground to cover.

  28. Bacardi1 says:

    DEFINITELY!!! I don’t even watch the cooking competition shows that are on now – nor have I ever. Not even Bourdain on “Top Chef”. I find them nothing more than silly sensationalism.

  29. catsworking says:

    I haven’t seen one minute of Nigella, although I have spent some time watching some horrifying Mafioso chick who cooks on some cable channel. Her show has the word “Bitch” in it. Bitchin’ Kitchen perhaps? And her logo is a skull with a fork and spoon poking out through the eye sockets. I think she would make a MUCH better foil for Bourdain.

    If Nigella is the cooking lightweight you say she is, then Tony has done a Colicchio and gone for looks rather than chops.

    I’ve been reading a lot of the press so far on this show, and everybody is saying the same thing: same old, same old. All you have to say is “cooking competition” and it’s clear the format has been done to death, whether they bring in experienced cooks, or the amateurs on which Bourdain has based a lot of schtick thoroughly dissing. Is he going to become another Gordon Ramsay or turn pussy, clean up his language, and be all sweet and nurturing?

    I suspect the biggest lure for him here is a good paycheck without the travel. CNN will provide his fix of road time as he weans himself off that habit.

  30. catsworking says:

    Bacardi, I watched a few seasons of Top Chef, but it ultimately turned me against the whole concept. Watching people forced to cook under the most extemely adverse conditions the producers can conjure, and then watching a bunch of food snobs (and a token moron – Padma) pick apart every dish — often blaming the cook for failing to overcome the ridiculous obstacles THEY erected — was outrageous when it wasn’t simply boring.

    Bizarre little piles of disparate ingredients sitting amid colorful smears of goo (like pea puree – YUCK!) may float some people’s boat, but not mine.

    BTW: I ate my first frog legs while on vacation 2 weeks ago. They didn’t taste like chicken, but rather some greasy, nondescript mystery meat. The frogs can keep them.

  31. Bacardi1 says:

    Don’t get me started on Padma!!!!! I watched a few episodes of her show on The Cooking Channel, & couldn’t believe that tv execs really believed she was a viable tv cook. She couldn’t do a damn thing properly & her recipes were revolting.

  32. adele says:

    Padma — I turned on her show on The Cooking Channel and lasted 5 minutes. Don’t even know what she was making, but she was wearing a slinky white outfit and lots of jewelry — not even an apron. Really???

  33. adele says:

    Karen, I had frog legs,for the second time in my life a couple of weeks ago. I was underwhelmed the first time I had them, but I was out with friends, who wanted an appetizer order, so I had them again. The sauce was good, but the meat was tasteless. I guess I could eat them if I were marooned on an island (and I could stand killing and skinning the frogs), short of that, Kermit has nothing to fear from me.

    We’ll have to have a Mad Men conversation after the series finale.

  34. catsworking says:

    Adele, I am fully caught up on Mad Men. It just keeps getting weirder and weirder. I envision Peggy going head to head against Don on a major account next season (and a macho one he’d think she wouldn’t have a prayer of winning). This will happen after Megan leaves him and he’s depressed again, and then Peggy will deliver the coup de grace by winning the business.

  35. catsworking says:

    I’ve caught Padma a few times on a show called The Melting Pot, but I think they rotate the cooks. She was making some Indian glop, but her movements were so amateurish and tentative, she makes ME look like a master chef. It seemed clear she hadn’t spent much time in a kitchen. But we already know she’d rather grab a big juicy burger at Hardee’s and lick the grease off her ankles.

    I just discovered that she’s totally revamped her website. She’s no longer sitting naked on the homepage and there’s nary a mention of her line of jewelry. That must have flopped. It appears she wants to be taken seriously now and is working the food angle hard. Sorry, Padma, too late.

  36. Bacardi1 says:

    Re: Frogs Legs

    Frogs Legs were actually quite lovely back in the day (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) when they were a southern U.S. product. They were large, fresh, & extremely tasty (& yes – they did taste sort of like delicate, tender chicken) – particularly when done in a French or Provencal style – garlic butter or garlic butter with sauteed diced fresh tomatoes, onions, & sweet peppers. Wonderful.

    However, those days are long gone, & unless you live in the deep South & have a local source, all of the frogs’ legs you’re going to find in both restaurants & markets come from Asia – Thailand & Vietnam for the most part. They’re farmed, & farmed not under the most hygienic circumstances.

    Which is why I’ll never have frogs legs again unless I happen to be in the deep South & can be assured they’re of U.S. origin.

  37. Bacardi1 says:

    Re: Mad Men

    Just watched the current episode, & already knew what was going to happen to Lane Pryce (won’t outline it so as not to spoil it for those who haven’t yet viewed it). Yet another chapter of angst for poor Don.

    This Sunday is the season finale (oh woe is me – why do these seasons always seem so SHORT!!!!), & I have to wonder what the cliffhanger will be since they seemed to make one with last week’s episode.

  38. catsworking says:

    Seasons seem short because they ARE short! I just read somewhere that No Reservations is on hiatus again after the Penang episode. (I watched it On Demand and didn’t realize they put it out there before it aired on TV.) I think Tony said there are 9 more to go — whenever.

    These 6-8-10 episode seasons are bullshit. A season used to be 26 weeks in the good old days, and I have all the episoded of Mister Ed to prove it!

    The frog legs I had were deep-fried, although not thick with batter, and no bigger than any frog I might find jumping around my yard. I’m sure I’ll never eat them again.

  39. Bacardi1 says:

    Re: Padma

    Yes – “The Melting Pot”, where each week it was a different chef or chefs doing a different ethnic cuisine – was where I also saw Padma. Ugh. She mixed up the ingredients, couldn’t complete a proper sentence, & never looked like she even remotely knew what she was doing or even what she was talking about.

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