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 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.


Bourdain’s Ex-Girlfriend Outed as a Sexual Predator

August 20, 2018

By Karen

The New York Times published a story about Asia Argento and a teenager. Continued association with Argento after this could have had serious, lasting repercussions for Anthony Bourdain’s reputation as a man of integrity were he alive today to give a shit.

Argento is paying a financial settlement to a young man whom, as a minor, she allegedly assaulted. This would seem to negate her role as a #MeToo movement leader. If she were a man, they’d immediately vilify her and trample any shred of career she may have left. Just ask Al Franken.

It’s a complicated story, so I’ll just lay it out chronologically…

1997 — Producer Harvey Weinstein performs unwanted oral sex on Argento in a hotel room in Cannes when she’s 21. She and Weinstein date on and off for years later, but Argento keeps memory of his clumsy first move in her back pocket.

2004 — Argento meets 7-year-old actor Jimmy Bennett, who’s hired to play a son to her prostitute mother character in a movie, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, which Argento also helps write and directs. The film includes a scene where Bennett’s character is raped. (Two other child actors shared the role, so I don’t know if Bennett was actually in the rape scene.)

In the years that follow, Argento and Bennett maintain a cordial mother-son relationship on social media.

May 9, 2013 — Bennett, now 17, visits Argento, 37, in her hotel room in California. He still lives with his parents and has to be driven everywhere. Argento asks for them to be alone, serves liquor, then removes Bennett’s pants, performs oral sex on him and initiates intercourse. Afterward, they take selfies in bed together for Instagram. The age of consent in California is 18, so this could make Argento’s actions statutory rape whether Bennett was willing or not.

April 2016 — Anthony Bourdain and Argento meet when she appears in a Rome episode of Parts Unknown.

September 2016 — Anthony Bourdain moves into his own apartment shortly before he and Ottavia Busia-Bourdain announce they’re splitting up.

February 2017 — Bourdain and Argento let it be known they’re a couple.

October 2017 — Ronan Farrow writes a story for the New Yorker that includes Argento’s 1997 Weinstein assault. This propels her into leadership of the #MeToo movement, along with fellow Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan. The women become best friends.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Jimmy Bennett sees this and starts having bad flashbacks to Argento’s hotel room in 2013.

November 2017 — Bourdain’s attorney, Richard Hofstetter, receives a notice of intent to sue from Bennett, addressed to Argento. It asks for $3.5 million in compensation for assault and battery, lost wages and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Argento hires her own attorney, Carrie Goldberg, who specializes in defending victims of online attacks.

December 2017 — Bourdain writes about #MeToo: “I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women. Not out of virtue, or integrity, or high moral outrage —  as much as I’d like to say so  — but because late in life, I met one extraordinary woman with a particularly awful story to tell, who introduced me to other extraordinary women with equally awful stories.” (quoted from today’s story on CNN.com)

April 2018 — The suit is settled for $380,000. Bennett receives an initial lump sum of $200,000, with the remainder to be paid over 18 months.

June 5, 2018 — Photos of Argento in Rome with 28-year-old journalist Hugo Clement are published online while Bourdain is in France shooting Parts Unknown.

June 8, 2018 — Bourdain dies by suicide.

August 19, 2018 — After receiving via encrypted email from an unknown source documents and photos about the Bennett-Argento lawsuit, The New York Times publishes the story.

Surprise, surprise, CNN also did a story, which consists almost entirely of quotes from The New York Times piece. Not surprisingly, the Bourgento angle is buried near the end. CNN says they have tried to reach Argento, Bennett and various involved parties but are getting crickets like everyone else.

Now, the questions…

Did Bourdain know he was dating a female sexual predator when he was singing her praises for the #MeToo movement?

Would Bourdain excuse a rape? Apparently so. He didn’t walk away after the intent to sue hit last November, but is reported to have helped Argento “navigate” it.

How did Argento spin it to Tony make herself the victim, or at least blameless?

Where did Argento get $200,000?

Who supplied the information to The New York Times?

Rose McGowan, in a stunning display of hypocrisy, tweeted that her heart is broken. And…

Like what? Argento basically admitted culpability with the settlement. Are they going to try to make Jimmy Bennett the bad guy now?

Under the settlement, Bennett can’t sue Argento, and there’s no gag order, so they’re both free to talk about it. However, nobody on any side of this matter would talk to the NYT about it beyond verifying the authenticity of the documents and photos.

Argento is mum right now, but her pattern is to shoot her mouth off, so we’ll see if she doesn’t try to somehow twist this. Her brand is becoming more toxic by the minute.

Wherever Harvey Weinstein is today, he must be laughing his ass off and thanking karma for being such a bitch.


Open Letter to CNN: Cashing In On Bourdain?

August 17, 2018

By Karen

Dear CNN,

Anthony Bourdain fans mark today as exactly 10 weeks since we lost him to suicide while filming Parts Unknown in France.

I was pleased this month when you announced that you and Zero Point Zero are putting together a final seven-hour Season 12 using remaining episodes Tony had filmed.

You created a mystery by omitting Florence, which Tony completed with his then-girlfriend, Asia Argento, the week before he traveled to France.

Yesterday, Vanity Fair broke the news that you’re planning a feature-length big-screen “definitive documentary” about Bourdain’s life and work.

Your EVP for talent and content, Amy Entelis, told Vanity Fair, “Because he did reveal himself in the series, there was still a hunger to know more about him.”

I’m quite familiar with this “hunger.” I wrote some blogs about Bourdain in 2007 and Cats Working suddenly became “Bourdain Central.” It remained so for several years until Tony took the plunge into social media himself.

Cats Working has seen a resurgence since his death because readers knew I was covering him when few did, and I’ve promised now to tell his story until there’s nothing left to tell.

In describing your documentary, Entelis said, “We just want to make it perfect. We want to make it exquisite for Tony. We want to do him justice.”

The word “exquisite” has fluffed my tail. Because of your almost-nonexistent reporting on Bourdain’s passing, I expect the most disingenuous puff piece in the history of film.

You cite fan interest as a factor in all your Bourdain-related decisions. What fans want to know is what really happened during Bourdain’s last week of life and why.

The French authorities’ announcement on June 8 was so sketchy, yet 100% conclusive, it didn’t pass the smell test. Aside from a belated admission that Bourdain had alcohol in his system (How much? Who knows!) all we know is that he was cremated five days later (presumably without an autopsy), and his brother Chris received the ashes on June 15.

Since then, there’s been nothing except unconfirmed stories on social media from unverifiable posters who claim to know something.

CNN calls itself “The Most Trusted Name in News.” I used to believe that. But on this story about one of your own, instead of doing your job, you’ve filled the void with personal tributes to pass as news.

Meanwhile, you’ve re-run Parts Unknown omitting episodes that included Argento, like Rome and Southern Italy. Most noticeably missing was the one she supposedly directed in Hong Kong early this year, about which Bourdain said on camera to Anderson Cooper, “Of everything I’ve ever done in my life, this was probably the professional highlight.”

So, CNN, why are you apparently boycotting Asia Argento? What’s your beef with her?

Since Bourdain was your employee, can you shed any light on why his appearance and demeanor seemed to decline beginning in 2016? Or didn’t you notice, even though the progression was painfully evident the last few seasons of Parts Unknown? When he died a few weeks before his 62nd birthday, he looked 80.

You must realize that Tony’s faithful fans have seen hundreds of hours of his globe-trotting. We’ve read reams of interviews discussing his personal and professional life. We’ve read his multiple books describing his travels and personal demons.

What’s your documentary going to add to that? The only missing pieces I can think of are the true and full circumstances surrounding his unexpected and unexplained death.

I can understand your desire to protect the family, particularly his daughter, but Bourdain didn’t die in a vacuum. Many people know something, even if your crackerjack reporters totally missed the story.

Eventually the truth will come out. It would be nice if it came from “The Most Trusted Name in News.” But I fear your documentary is just a cynical ploy to cash in one last time on your biggest globally recognized talent. If so, shame on you.


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