Bourdain Gets Emmy Nomination for The Taste

July 19, 2013

By Karen

Let me state up-front that I think Anthony Bourdain deserves lots and lots of success. He paid his culinary dues for decades in hot kitchens, he works a punishing schedule to film and write for his travel shows (even if the results look like he does nothing but eat great food and drink). And while doing all this, he’s managed to produce 12 books, make oodles of personal appearances, and write for the HBO series Treme and myriad publications.

The guy’s work ethic can put Tasmanian Devils to shame.

But a nomination as Best Reality Show Host for The Taste? Come on!

Unfortunately, his stiffest competition is Betty White for Off Their Rockers, a show infinitely more entertaining in 5 minutes than The Taste was in all its 8 hours.

Tony personally has an undeservedly poor track record with Emmys. I’m afraid this one will put him one notch closer to becoming the Susan Lucci of reality TV.

On the other hand, there’s still hope…

Bourdain’s also nominated for writing the Libya episode of CNN’s Parts Unknown. Heck, let me just list all noms related to him so you can see what he’s up against:

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program

  • The Taste • ABC – Anthony Bourdain
  • American Idol • FOX – Ryan Seacrest
  • Betty White’s Off Their Rockers • NBC – Betty White
  • Dancing with the Stars • ABC – Tom Bergeron
  • Project Runway • Lifetime – Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn
  • So You Think You Can Dance • FOX – Cat Deeley

Outstanding Informational Series or Special

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown • CNN
  • Brain Games • Nat Geo
  • Inside the Actors Studio • Bravo
  • Oprah’s Master Class • OWN
  • Stand Up to Cancer • Tenth Planet

Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Libya – Anthony Bourdain
  • The Dust Bowl, The Great Plow Up • PBS – Dayton Duncan
  • Ethel • HBO – Mark Bailey
  • Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God • HBO – Alex Gibney
  • The Men Who Built America, A New War Begins • HISTORY – Stephen David et al.

Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Myanmar • CNN
  • Ethel • HBO
  • Manhunt: The Inside Story of the Hunt for Bin Laden • HBO
  • Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God • HBO
  • The Men Who Built America • A New War Begins • HISTORY

Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Myanmar • CNN
  • The Amazing Race • Be Safe and Don’t Hit a Cow • CBS
  • Crossfire Hurricane • HBO
  • Deadliest Catch, Mutiny on the Bering Sea • Discovery Channel
  • History of the Eagles • Showtime
  • Survivor, Create a Little Chaos • CBS

I hope Parts Unknown wins in all its categories, but ESPECIALLY Tony’s writing on Libya.

And now back to The Taste. Some developments…

Ludo Lefebvre is definitely back for Season 2, although no 4th judge has been named yet. OK, Ludo is admittedly very cute, and he even has a sense of humor. If he can manage to harness his inner jerk for Season 2, all will be forgiven.

But here’s the real shocker: Bourdain, Lawson, and Lefebvre are going to be judges in a British knock-off of the The Taste in 2014. Of course, the Brits are touting it as “Nigella Lawson’s The Taste.”

According to RealScreen

The Netherlands’ RTL4 and Belgium’s VTM recently acquired the Benelux remake rights for The Taste. Other international networks that have picked up the series include REN TV in Russia, CTV in Canada, Fox in India, Australia’s Nine Network and M6 in France.

WTF?

Well, I don’t care how many countries are clamoring for it (France, I’m deeply shocked — SHOCKED — and dismayed by this display of bad taste), Season 1 stank, and no amount of PR hype about the lousy original premise will improve Season 2.


Bourdain Releases His Inner Wolf in Libya

May 21, 2013

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain is clearly feeling CNN’s once-considerable “weight” on Parts Unknown. Who knows? Maybe he’s what the foundering network needs to stop being almost as big a joke as Fox “News.”

As Tony navigated through Libya, I felt like I was watching him grab the next rung up in his career  — and I was cheering for him all the way.

With each new Parts episode, Bourdain’s confidence grows almost visibly as he tries new ways to expand beyond food. He’s seeking out people involved in historic upheavals, and expats who love and live in danger zones. Then he lets them take center stage to talk about life and politics — instead of food — while Bourdain mostly listens and learns.

His narrations fill in just enough history to make it all make sense for viewers.

As he drove through Gaddafi’s destroyed, deserted compound and scrambled alone through the rubble of the dictator’s palace, I thought how, if he were still on Travel Channel, that probably would have been a scene of him lunching in Tripoli at some trendy new drive-through called Muammar’s.

I was the first blogger to follow him closely “way back when,” before Eater started hanging on his every word (e.g., their “Quotable Bourdain”), so I’ve seen him rise and begin to descend once, in spite of all the award nominations that started rolling in for No Reservations. It’s truly awesome to see him ascend again at CNN.

To foreign audiences, he must serve as the antidote to the cliché of heedless Ugly Americans who spew like mold spores from air-conditioned tour buses and cruise ships everywhere, often ignorant about where they are, and interested in nothing beyond a perfunctory glance at how “the other half” lives and cheap souvenirs.

When Bourdain was in Libya, the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was still fairly fresh, and warnings were being issued about Westerners’ safety., which must have been giving him flashbacks to Beirut. As I watched Tony travel to Mizrata, I hoped to God I never awaken to news that he’s injured, missing — or worse — in some godforsaken hellhole.

But like his predecessor, the world-renowned (now largely forgotten) English writer, Somerset Maugham, Bourdain is compelled to travel to exotic places and collect stories from ordinary people, digest them without judging, then spin them into something fascinating for the rest of us.

Unlike much of Maugham’s work, Bourdain’s dominant genre is nonfiction, which takes more courage to write.

Instead of closing the Libya episode with another relatively easy meal scene, Bourdain trekked to the ancient Roman ruins of Leptis Magna, where he noted he was the only foreigner because the country’s never-ending strife has killed tourism, and that someone had “chipped off all the dicks” from the statues.

Would Samantha Brown ever share such a tidbit? I think not. But that’s just the sort of detail we expect from Bourdain.

Then, in the show’s most shocking moment, he joined a troop of Libyan Boy Scouts on a field trip, recited the pledge from memory, and revealed he was once a scout.

Anthony Bourdain — BOY SCOUT?

That notion was even wilder than the beard he sprouted there, “going Blitzer,” the reason for which was never explained.

I’m really liking this more-than-a-foodie Tony. I think he’s on track to earn that personal Emmy that’s been eluding him.


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