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…

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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.


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.


Final Bourdain “Parts Unknown” Season to Omit One Episode

August 3, 2018

By Karen

CNN has announced they and Anthony Bourdain’s production company, Zero Point Zero, are putting together a seven-episode final season (12) of Parts Unknown, to begin airing sometime this fall. Only one episode was completed with Tony’s voiceover, and he filmed it in Kenya with W. Kamau Bell, who hosts United Shades of America, also on CNN.

The other locales are Texas, New York, Indonesia, Mexico and Spain. They will include Tony’s voice caught as he was filming, with any gaps filled in by crew from the shoots.

The finale will be two hours long, with one hour a peek behind the scenes with the ZPZ crew, and the final hour a collection of past guests and fans discussing their relationships with and feelings about Bourdain and how he affected them and the world.

What’s missing from this lineup is the episode Bourdain completed filming in late May, the week before he traveled to France and died there on June 8.

That episode is Florence, Italy. Here’s the now-infamous black-and-white photo of Bourdain and his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend, Asia Argento, sitting on a bench at the end of filming. [Note: Cats Working no longer publishes photos of Argento.]

Argento recently posted a photo of herself in a car with Tony, holding an umbrella against the sun, the last weekend of the Florence shoot.

The following weekend, Argento would be photographed in Rome by two paparazzi in the company of a 28-year-old journalist named Hugo Clement.

This “lost” Florence episode raises yet another question related to Tony’s death…

Did CNN and ZPZ scrap Florence to keep Asia out, or for some reason related to Bourdain? (I’d understand that it might be upsetting for ZPZ to deal with that footage, now knowing what Bourdain was going to face a week later.)

We may never know. Personally, I agree with CNN-ZPZ’s decision on every level.

AND: Here’s a bit more on the upcoming Bourdain biography

USA Today reported that the bio by Laurie Woolever, Bourdain’s long-time assistant and co-author of Appetites: A Cookbook, will be titled, Bourdain: The Oral Biography and released in fall 2019 by Ecco. The book will consist of interviews, according to a quote from Woolever’s statement…

“After working with and collaborating with Tony since 2004, I’m honored to now be working with his estate, and talking to the people who knew him best, in order to share the story of a life that influenced so many people, in so many ways, all across the globe”


Some News from the Post-Bourdain World

June 23, 2018

By Karen

It’s now been two weeks since Anthony Bourdain’s June 8 suicide in Kaysersberg, France. He was found hanging in his hotel bathroom by the belt from his robe, and reports now say that he was discovered by the hotel receptionist, not friend Eric Ripert.

The French authorities who investigated found no suspicious circumstances around his death, so the only testing they apparently did was to collect blood and urine samples for a toxicology report, whose results were announced yesterday.

Reuters quoted prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny as concluding…

“No trace of narcotics, no trace of any toxic products, no trace of medicines, no trace of alcohol.”

REUTERS UPDATE JUNE 22: Reuters revised their story to say that a trace of alcohol WAS found, according to the prosecutor, who apparently doesn’t speak fluent English or doesn’t know how to read a tox report…

“‘No trace of narcotics. No trace of any toxic products. Trace of medicines in therapeutic dose. Trace of alcohol,’ he said, listing the findings of the investigation.”

This is what the prosecutor told the New York Times News Service, neglecting to mention the alcohol…

“There were none, save for the trace of a nonnarcotic medicine in a therapeutic dose, Christian de Rocquigny, the local prosecutor in charge of the investigation, said in a text message to The New York Times.”

I remember Tony once saying that he took a statin for his cholesterol. Perhaps that’s what the trace of therapeutic medicine was.

What we now know from this is that Tony’s thought process was not impaired by any substance when he decided to end his life. Exactly what his thoughts were, we’ll never know.

Tony’s brother Chris received on June 15 Tony’s ashes and all of the belongings he had with him in France — this presumably included his electronic devices.

If one of Tony’s last acts wasn’t to erase the history on his devices, Chris may hold the key to whomever Tony last communicated with and whatever writing he may have left behind.

In the New York Times story, Tony’s mother Gladys said she was no fan of Tony’s tattoos, but she plans to have his tattoo artist put her son’s name on her wrist as a personal memorial.

Asia Argento’s behavior on social media has swung between melancholy and defiance. Page Six provided a run-down. She’s working as a judge on X Factor for Sky Italia, filming in Turin.

With input from the family, Chris is arranging a small private service for Tony. No public memorial is planned, but I’ve seen these stories of memorials popping up around the country.

Food & Wine reported…

“New Jersey Assemblyman Paul Moriarty of Camden proposed an official Anthony Bourdain Food Trail, which would be established by the Division of Travel and Tourism. In a decision that would seemingly make such a trail authentic to Bourdain’s own wishes, the proposed route would encompass the ten spots he visited during his “New Jersey” episode of Parts Unknown that aired as part of Season 5 of the series back on May 31, 2015.”

Brother Chris accompanied Tony for that episode.

Artists are busy creating murals, such as…

Marcus Zotter in Naples, Florida.

Nathan Lyle and Brandon Barnhart in Pensacola, Florida.

Jonas Never in Santa Monica, California.

Posthumously, Bourdain has been nominated for a TV Critics Award for Outstanding Achievement in News and Information. The awards ceremony is August 4, and here’s who Tony is competing against. He’s swinging against some heavy hitters…

  • “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” – CNN
  • “60 Minutes” – CBS
  • “Blue Planet 2” – BBC America
  • “The Rachel Maddow Show” – MSNBC
  • “The Vietnam War” – PBS
  • “Wild Wild Country” – Netflix

Eater has a preview of the Season 11 Parts Unknown finale in Bhutan. Warning: The opening of the clip is disturbing. And filmmaker Darren Aronofsky wrote about traveling with Tony to Madagascar several years ago, and also tagging along for this shoot in Bhutan.

PS: Tony’s birthday is Monday, June 25. He would have been 62 years old.


In Shock: Anthony Bourdain Dead

June 8, 2018

By Karen

I JUST heard this two minutes ago on Morning Joe, words I never expected to write: Anthony Bourdain has apparently committed suicide.

According to CNN, he was in France filming an episode of Parts Unknown with his best friend, Eric Ripert. It was Ripert who found Bourdain in his hotel room, unresponsive.

No other details seem available right now, but they will surely come out.

The question all of us who have followed Tony over the years, even back when he personally monitored every mention of himself on the ‘net and discovered Cats Working, are asking is:

WHY? WHY? WHY?

I’m posting this immediately so any Bourdainiacs who are still reading this blog may have a place to comment and discuss this tragic turn of events.

As for myself, I sit here sweating, with chills, on the verge of tears, thinking of Ariane and Ottavia, and trying to wrap my head around the fact that the world suddenly has this big, premature Bourdain-shaped hole in it.

I don’t have the words. I’ve continued to follow him and have some thoughts about things I’ve seen or read recently, but they can wait. This is a day to grieve.


Bourdain Slurps Noodles with Obama

September 23, 2016

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain’s CNN series Parts Unknown is worth watching Sunday, September 25, 9 p.m. ET. He’s in Hanoi, Vietnam, and shares noodles and beer with President Obama in a small local joint.

Obama’s approval rating is at about 58%, so having a beer with a popular guy like Bourdain can only reflect well on Hillary. In fact, it’s a shame it’s not Hillary.

The intended contrast with Donald Trump is unmistakable. Not only would Trump never be caught dead in such humble surroundings, but you know he can’t use chopsticks and he’s incapable of small talk.

Luckily for Bourdain, Angelina Jolie’s divorce from Brad Pitt immediately eclipsed the Bourdain breakup announcement. The Bourdains can’t hope to have drama that remotely compares to allegations of Pitt being a substance- and child-abuser.

Today I read this Washington Post article where Tony mentions being in London during the Brexit vote (Parts Unknown to air Oct. 23) and did a double-take at the undated CNN photo of Nigella Lawson making Tony breakfast in her home.

Breakfast?!

As I’ve pondered Bourdain’s post-Ottavia life, the woman who sprang to mind as his next potential companion was Nigella. They’ve known each other for years, and he was there for her when her marriage fell apart while they were filming The Taste together.

I am absolutely NOT implying any illicit behavior, but if Tony does end up on his own, he could do a lot worse than Nigella. In fact, he DID do a lot worse before he met Ottavia.

On Parts Unknown last season, Bourdain wore no wedding ring. I should have mentioned months ago that it was his best ever, winning his 4th straight Outstanding Series Emmy. I’ve forgotten details, but every episode touched me in some way — tears, laughter, sheer wonder at the amazing cinematography.

Ottavia published an article in August on Lena Dunham’s site Lenny about how she got into MMA. Her byline included her maiden name and mentioned only her daughter, as if she’s a single mother.

So hints about the breakup were out there, even before the big announcement.

Bourdain has a new home-cooking book coming out on October 25 called Appetites. And he revealed in a recent interview with Uproxx that he’s about to start another book. I wonder what happened to the novel he’s been working on for years?

BONUS: Bourdain’s Russian sidekick Zamir Gotta has permanently defected to Buffalo, New York, to launch Zamir Vodka. And Trump’s worried about Mexicans.

DOUBLE BONUS: Here’s Bourdain’s latest episode of Raw Craft, a series he does for Balvenie Distillery featuring expert craftspeople. This one is in North Carolina with a pearl-wearing metalsmith named Elizabeth Brim.


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