Outraged at Balvenie’s Emmy Tribute to Bourdain? Get Over It.

September 19, 2018

By Karen

In February 2015, Anthony Bourdain partnered with The Balvenie, makers of handcrafted single malt Scotch whisky, to host a series of short videos called Raw Craft. It was notable because Bourdain always said how much he loathed celebrity endorsements. But in this situation, PRNNewswire quoted Bourdain changing his tune…

“For me, there is deep satisfaction in seeing people, with a particular skill set and a real passion, produce a beautiful thing which is why I’m excited to be a part of these programs in partnership with The Balvenie. There is no doubt for me, that if you can have it, you want the stuff where people have taken their time, paid attention to and personally care about how it was created. It is very important to me that these kinds of crafts continue into the future and we value artisans who make the decision to choose quality over quantity.”

This statement is not inconsistent with the philosophy Bourdain always espoused. He went on to film a series of 14 videos for Balvenie, giving exposure to a variety of obscure but dedicated small business owners.

After the partnership began, Bourdain made waves in the whisky world by sacrilegiously saying he preferred his whisky on the rocks, proving he was no brainless shill for Big Booze.

During the Emmys (and I swear on a bible I saw this spot BEFORE the “In Memoriam” segment, not after — it must have replayed but I fast-forwarded through it), Balvenie ran a 30-second tribute to Bourdain. Twitter had a hissy. Here’s the spot so you can judge its tastefulness for yourselves…

Maybe Trump and the GOP have destroyed my sense of outrage, but I found nothing wrong with this. It was a tribute to Bourdain’s commitment to quality, and a thanks. Basically, they showed him explaining how he chose to live and work.

(Well, until 2016, when he met a certain Italian actress. That’s another story.)

I believe fans who think this was Balvenie’s cynical attempt to cash in on their Bourdain connection one last time got the motivation wrong. I saw a sincere attempt to honor a man who, in his own way, was every bit the craftsman they consider themselves to be.

Maybe I’m being played by Balvenie, but next time I visit a liquor store, I’ll probably buy a bottle (if I can afford it) just for the experience of trying something Tony believed in.

And call me a sucker but, shortly after Tony died, my car swerved into the drive-through of Popeye’s Chicken because I suddenly craved his secret guilty pleasure.

We can reread his books and rewatch his shows, but I think sharing the foods and drinks he enjoyed would probably please him most.

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Anthony Bourdain’s Final Graphic Novel Available Oct. 2

September 13, 2018

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain left behind a stash of polished writing for fans to discover and savor after his death on June 8. Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts represents his final foray into the graphic novel genre with food-centric horror stories. The 128-page full-color hardcover is being released under the Berger Books imprint of Dark Horse Comics in Portland, Oregon, on October 2, retailing for $13.49.

The book is a compilation of the four-story miniseries by the same name that Bourdain had published previously (which I haven’t read), as well as five new stories.

The posthumous publication, illustrated by various artists, will include a tribute written by his collaborator Joel Rose, a full-page portrait of Tony, and five new recipes.

Comic books were Bourdain’s first love, so it will be bittersweet to add this volume to the shelf beside his two Get Jiro! graphic novels.

Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts is available for pre-order from Amazon.com. And don’t forget, CNN begins airing the 12th and final season of Parts Unknown on Sunday, September 23.


Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Wins Six Emmys

September 10, 2018

By Karen

FINALLY, after eight previous nominations (as tallied by Variety), Anthony Bourdain posthumously won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing. Ironically, it was for the Southern Italy episode of Parts Unknown, which CNN has pulled from streaming and reruns because it features Tony hanging out with his former girlfriend, Asia Argento.

Tony’s longtime Zero Point Zero producer Lydia Tenaglia accepted the award on his behalf.

If Tony hadn’t killed himself on June 8, several days after seeing photos of Argento spending the weekend in Rome with French journalist Hugo Clement, Tony and Argento might have appeared on the red carpet again together. Tony might have even pulled her up on stage with him to accept the award for the episode they shared.

In Argento’s fondest fantasies, Tony would have turned over the mic to her so she could launch into what we now know would be a totally hypocritical diatribe against Harvey Weinstein the sexual predator, as she did at Cannes, with the man bankrolling her own statutory rape coverup standing behind her.

In reality, Argento’s unemployed and trying to dodge accusations that she has sex with underage boys.

Back to the awards, here’s the run-down of all the Emmys the Parts Unknown crew took home last night, and who they beat…

Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown • Southern Italy • CNN
  • The Defiant Ones • Episode 1 • HBO
  • Icarus • Netflix
  • Jane • National Geographic
  • Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like • PBS
  • The Vietnam War • Episode 8: The History Of The World (April 1969-May 1970) • PBS

Outstanding Informational Series or Special

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown • CNN
  • Leah Remini: Scientology And The Aftermath • A&E
  • My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman • Netflix
  • StarTalk With Neil deGrasse Tyson • National Geographic
  • Vice • HBO

Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown • Lagos • CNN
  • The Defiant Ones • Episode 3 • HBO
  • Jane • National Geographic
  • Wild Wild Country • Part 3 • Netflix
  • The Zen Diaries Of Garry Shandling • HBO

Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera)

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown • Seattle
  • Blue Planet II • Coral Reefs • BBC America
  • The Defiant Ones • Episode 1 • HBO
  • Jane • National Geographic
  • The Vietnam War • Episode 6: Things Fall Apart (January 1968-July 1968) • PBS
  • Wild Wild Country • Part 1 • Netflix

Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera)

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown • Lagos
  • The Defiant Ones • Episode 1 • HBO
  • Jane • National Geographic
  • The Vietnam War • Episode 6: Things Fall Apart (January 1968-July 1968) • PBS
  • Wild Wild Country • Part 1 • Netflix

Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series

  • Anthony Bourdain: Explore Parts Unknown • CNN (cnn.com)
  • The Americans: The Final Season • FX Networks
  • The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story: America’s Obsessions • FX Networks
  • Jay Leno’s Garage • NBC (nbc.com)
  • Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen • Bravo (bravotv.com)

The only category they didn’t win was Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program for the Lagos episode.

Variety spoke backstage to Explore Parts Unknown executive producer Nathan Thornburgh and reported him saying that public support has meant a lot to those who worked with Bourdain…

“‘The one thing about this loss is it’s not ours alone, like everybody knew that guy,’ Thornburgh said. ‘Everybody had a selfie with him, but more importantly I think everyone felt like he had spoken to them over the years and that’s helped a lot, to feel like we’re not alone.’”

The 12th and final season of Parts Unknown begins September 23. Here’s the trailer…


Argento Tries Patching Her Crumbling World with Lies

September 5, 2018

By Karen

From a page out of Donald Tump’s playbook, Asia Argento’s latest strategy is, “If at first you don’t succeed, lie, lie again — and hire a new lawyer.”

Page Six has reported that Argento is reneging on her deal with Jimmy Bennett to send him $180,000 in monthly $10,000 installments until she pays off the $380,000 settlement to which Anthony Bourdain contributed $200,000 back in April.

The story states that Bennett has so far received, $250,000, so the math implies he got checks for May, June, July, August and September.

Page Six isn’t a paragon of journalistic integrity, but I would guess that, without access to Bourdain’s wallet, Argento is strapped for cash.

(BTW, media reports are now jumbling all these numbers. I’m sticking to figures provided by The New York Times in August; they received and authenticated the legal documents.)

Argento has been dropped from X Factor Italy, her only steady employment I’m aware of. She will appear only in initial episodes already filmed.

Also, CNN has pulled from streaming all episodes of Parts Unknown Argento was involved in: Rome, Southern Italy and Hong Kong. She was shooting in Florence with Bourdain two weeks before his death, but that one’s apparently toast because it’s not in the seven-episode “Final Season” CNN will air this fall.

Returning to Page Six, one bit they nailed is that Argento has replaced her lawyer Carrie Golding with Mark Jay Heller, a celebrity ambulance-chaser who has represented Lindsey Lohan (whatever happened to her?) and many others.

Heller wrote a statement about his newest client that’s featured on his homepage. (Don’t miss the video at the top showcasing what a sleaze he is.) The title: “Asia Argento Launches Phase Two of the #MeToo Movement.”

It’s hilarious because Argento has been persona non grata with #MeToo since her romp with 17-year-old Jimmy Bennett came out in the NYT.

But what exactly is “Phase Two”? Heller explains…

“Phase Two of the #metoo movement dictates that the voice of a victim, even one with a history that may be in question, should be heard and she is hopeful that in the Court of Public Opinion it will ultimately be determined that Asia never initiated an inappropriate sexual contact with a minor, but rather she was attached by Bennett and might even be suffering the fallback of a smear campaign by those already accused who may have a vested interest in their accusers being denied credibility.”

Heller includes a little “smear campaign” of his own on Jimmy Bennett by mentioning that in 2014 (after Argento assaulted Bennett) he was allegedly charged by the LAPD with “unlawful sex with a minor,” “stalking,” “child pornography” and “child exploitation.” Heller also gratuitously mentions Bennett’s lawsuit against his parents for allegedly stealing his earnings.

Argento’s schtick now is that she was unequivocally raped by Bennett. Forget that spider-poised-to-strike selfie of breathless anticipation she posted on Instagram before he arrived for their rendezvous.

To make matters even more confusing, Rain Dove, the significant other of Rose McGowan (Happy 45th Birthday, Rose! Your suddenly gray stubble-do looks fab on you!), has been feuding with Argento on Twitter today.

The Daily Mail has published texts of Rain and Argento discussing Bourdain’s death not being suicide, and Argento drops the bomb, “there was a witness.” But it’s unclear if she’s talking about Bourdain’s death or about Rain not sharing with Argento related documents s/he supposedly has (how?).

If you’re drinking anything right now, please swallow before reading this last paragraph of Heller’s statement about Argento…

“When the true facts are clarified, we know Asia will return to her International prominence as an award winning and acclaimed Actress, musician and Director.”

The “true fact” we know about Asia Argento is that she will say or do anything to get what she wants, and then betray whoever it takes to cover her misdeeds.

Again, straight from Trump’s playbook.


Asia Argento’s Claim of Talent: Deceitful Above All Things

August 27, 2018

By Karen

Still trying to wrap my head around Asia Argento’s alleged statutory rape of Jimmy Bennett in 2013, and Anthony Bourdain’s alleged participation in the cover-up earlier this year, I just watched the movie that spawned the whole mess. In 2004, Argento cast Bennett in The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things when he was 7 years old. It’s available for free on Amazon Prime.

Bennett plays young Jeremiah, and Argento plays Sarah, his drug-addicted prostitute mother. Argento also received script credit and directed the film, set in West Virginia.

How Argento got the rights to this “JT Leroy” story by sleeping with the woman who masqueraded as Leroy, and then cheated on Leroy to “his” face by sleeping with a man is a story in itself. Basically, it’s another example of Argento’s now well-recognized schtick of using people for her own ends before shitting all over them.

Back to the movie. Here’s the trailer (Bennett is the youngest boy)…

In badly fitting blonde wigs, Argento’s hit-or-miss Southern accent is the extent of her acting. The rest is pretty much her typical behavior as she’s posted it on Instagram for years.

In a nutshell, the story celebrates child abuse in myriad forms. Sarah makes Jeremiah her captive audience to watch her smoke, drink, do drugs, and have sex with strangers whenever he isn’t being tortured.

The photography includes lots of shots of Argento on all fours poking her barely-clad ass at the camera as if she considers it her best feature.

Jimmy Bennett looks scared, sad and finally numb throughout his portion of the film. Fortunately, his gig is done and he’s replaced by two older twins before a man rapes the Jeremiah character.

The rape scene may be the film’s most tasteful bit, with Argento stepping in to play Jeremiah’s fantasy that he’s Sarah. What, you didn’t think for a moment Argento would have a sex scene in her movie without her, did you?

Afterward, the only indication of “how it went” is Jeremiah trying to wash blood from stained frilly panties.

In one climactic scene, Sarah makes this speech to Jeremiah. It’s easy to imagine Asia spitting these words at Tony during one of their arguments…

“You think I need you? You’ve done nothing but ruin everything. Always. I sacrificed so much for you, you shitty bastard. I could have been something. I had to give it all up for you. By myself I’ve always landed on my feet. Never forget that.”

Making the film gave Argento an opportunity, in the name of art, to experiment with destroying a child. Four years later, in 2008, she gave birth to her son, Nicola. In 2013, before Nicola was 5, Argento allegedly had sex with Jimmy, the boy she knew best when he was only 7.

We’re left with 97 minutes of film showing how coarse, cruel and slutty Argento can be. It boggles the mind to think Anthony Bourdain ever watched it and found it impressive work.

Jimmy Bennett’s upbringing must have been nightmarish for his parents to allow his participation in this travesty, and then to allow him to keep in touch with the woman responsible.

BONUSES: Here’s a 2006 review still available online by Jeremy C. Fox at Pajiba that discusses the Leroy book and gives the movie and Argento much more credit than I do, but he’s ultimately disappointed.

Snippets of dozens of professional reviews are at Rotten Tomatoes, but I found most full versions no longer accessible.

Oops! Just found another one from 2006 by Ty Burr at The Boston Globe. Enjoy — or puke!


How Jimmy Bennett Makes Asia Argento Look Small

August 24, 2018

By Karen

If anyone ever wanted to build a monster that personified in one being all the worst proclivities of Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein, the result would be Asia Argento.

Lying, equivocating, denying, bashing, distracting, defying, deflecting, projecting, cheating, using people, engaging in sexual deviance and predation. Argento has it all. The whole package.

And for some ungodly reason, Anthony Bourdain thought himself lucky to have her.

Since Bourdain’s death, Argento’s role in the #MeToo movement has morphed into #EtTu after we learned that in 2013 she allegedly raped a 17-year-old she’d known since his early childhood. Then she promised him $380,000 if he’d turn over compromising photos they’d taken together and get permanently lost.

Argento has issued and leaked nothing but contradictions, all to make her the victim and cast Bennett and Bourdain in the worst possible light — claiming Bennett was the attacker and then extorted her and that Bourdain insisted on paying hush money.

This forced Bennett to issue his own statement, explaining he felt “ashamed and afraid” in the immediate aftermath. He said, in so many words, he didn’t think he’d be believed, writing to The New York Times

“I tried to seek justice in a way that made sense to me at the time because I was not ready to deal with the ramifications of my story becoming public. At the time I believed there was still a stigma to being in the situation as a male in our society. I didn’t think that people would understand the event that took place from the eyes of a teenage boy.”

I give him credit for having the maturity to realize that. Also, he hasn’t blamed the family member who agreed to leave him alone with Argento. He hasn’t even blamed Argento. He just found her hypocrisy over Weinstein impossible to swallow.

He ended his statement with…

“I would like to move past this event in my life, and today I choose to move forward, no longer in silence.”

I applaud Bennett and hope he realizes he’s not the one being judged.

The Blast reported that Bennett didn’t realize until shortly before the NYT story broke that Bourdain made the initial lump sum payment. Now Bennett has to live wondering if he played any role in Bourdain’s suicide.

While Bennett was soul-searching, Argento was scheming with a friend via leaked texts to TMZ, who offered these helpful coping suggestions…

  • Discredit Bennett by finding proof you rebuffed any past advances he ever made.
  • Get your therapist to leak that you talked about suffering some trauma that would have affected your judgment.
  • Get documentation proving Bourdain made the payment to exonerate you of trying to buy Bennett’s silence.

Argento also kvetched that it shouldn’t be such a big deal because 15 is the age of consent in France and Italy, failing to realize that it’s irrelevant to any adult who has appropriate relationships.

And here’s a note TMZ published that Bennett supposedly left Argento that day. Does this look like a man a mature woman would find desirable, or a kid?

Argento also claimed Bennett sent her unwanted nude selfies until two weeks before his intent to sue arrived.

Coincidentally, the Daily Mail just reported that on June 2, the same weekend Argento romped around Rome with 28-year-old Hugo Clement, a comedian named Jeff Leach, 34, did a podcast claiming Argento had sent Leach nude selfies at some point and “freaked out” when he told her to stop.

Here are some things we still don’t know…

Did Bourdain believe Argento had sex with Jimmy Bennett or not? She told him she would never pay Bennett for something “she didn’t do,” but then said she “froze” when they did it. One of his unauthenticated texts said he’d back her either way.

Did Bourdain view the encounter through the eyes of a horny teenager and think Bennett was an idiot not to appreciate being humped by a hot woman (in Bourdain’s estimation) old enough to be his mother ?

Did Bourdain realize Argento may have committed statutory rape in California? Did he knowingly cover up her crime, possibly ignoring his own attorney’s advice?

Presumably, Bennett is now receiving $10,000 a month from Argento until about October 2020 to pay out the $380,000 settlement.

This is a mess of true Trumpian proportions and, like with Trump, more dirt keeps spilling out.


Asia Argento Holds Nothing but Victim Cards

August 21, 2018

By Karen

Like Donald Trump, Asia Argento is a fixture on social media. Then when her photos and posts become proof of her depravity, she also says our eyes are lying to us.

Two days ago, The New York Times broke the news that Argento may be the ultimate hypocrite in the #MeToo movement. She quietly paid off a young man named Jimmy Bennett, who accused her of sexually assaulting him when he was only 17, just as she was crusading to bring down Harvey Weinstein for allegedly doing the same thing to her in 1997.

Today, TMZ reported on Asia’s bizarre statement refuting the NYT, quoting, “I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.”

TMZ included excerpts from text messages Argento supposedly exchanged with her then-boyfriend Anthony Bourdain about the matter. Since Bourdain’s sudden, little-explained death, these are his only texts to come to light. TMZ didn’t mention a source nor authenticating them, but I assume Argento provided them.

In the exchanges Argento shared, she told Tony that Bennett was the aggressor and she “froze” while he was on top of her.

She also didn’t fight off Weinstein, telling Ronan Farrow in his New Yorker article that she suffered years of guilt over it. “Because, if I were a strong woman, I would have kicked him in the balls and run away. But I didn’t.”

So this women who hangs around boxing rings and keeps her fist perpetually in the air couldn’t fend off a teenager, either?

And which is it? Did she have sex with Bennett, or do we believe her assertion, “I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett”?

The texts also imply that Bourdain, whose actual knowledge of this legal matter consisted only of his girlfriend’s word, took control of the negotiations although Argento had her own attorney. Tony also decided to pay Bennett handsomely just to help out the “poor twisted goof” and make him go away.

There’s so much about this story that makes no sense, my head is spinning.

When Bourdain died, his estate was only $1.2 million because the bulk of his assets belonged to his wife Ottavia and daughter Ariane. Why on earth would he fork over nearly one-third of his total worth to some kid he didn’t know from Adam if, as Asia claimed, she’d done nothing wrong? Let Bennett sue her and prove it in court.

The photos of Asia and Bennett that day are damning. To prove it, I’ll break my rule not to show her here. Decide for yourself. Does she look and write like a woman anticipating a nice maternal chat with a teenager who looks up to her as a mom figure?

Argento’s statement claimed, “Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us. We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and give it to him. Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life.”

The incident happened three years before Tony even met Argento. He routinely locked horns with countless celebrities and hostile foreign governments, and got a visit from the Secret Service over things he said about Trump. What could he have possibly feared from Bennett if he believed the kid was lying?

Based on the media coverage, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office is looking into the matter. Bennett was 17 and the age of consent in California is 18. He says she gave him alcohol before assaulting him, and then published a semi-nude photo of them in bed together. Might Argento face other charges beyond statutory rape?

She can spin this any way she wants and even fabricate texts about how Bourdain handled it. He’s no longer here to set the record straight. But we can keep questioning until we uncover the truth for him or tangle her so completely in her own lies, there’s no escape.


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