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’s Parts Not-So Unknown

April 18, 2013

By Karen

The opening montage was undeniably slicker (but did my eyes deceive when I detected a few shots in it from No Reservations?), but the sense of déjà vu quickly set in with the discordant rock theme by John Homme and Mark Lanegan (whose only lyric I think I got was “rain on my shoulder”) and the black and red logo with Tony sitting beside it.

The only thing they left back at Travel Channel was the ink blot.

We’d been duly warned that Parts Unknown wouldn’t be that different, but come on.

Tony’s first foray for CNN was to Myanmar (formerly Burma), I place I know mainly as Siam’s rival kingdom in The King and I. As a nod to his new masters’ focus on news, the episode opened with Bourdain talking in somber tones about the country’s recent political developments and reading a newspaper in the street, with some voiceover of Obama giving a speech there and a shot of “O-Burma” tchotchkes thrown in.

But then there was a quick segue to familiar turf: tea.

Tony soon met up with his former employer from Les Halles, Philippe LaJeunie, who happened to be in town, and they did some street-dining on chicken necks and little birds deep-fried whole.

My favorite part was the long, uncomfortable train ride to Bagan, and I wondered how they got that shot of the train’s underside from the tracks.

While I’m on the cinematography, there was also a stunning shot of Tony standing at water’s edge during a breathtaking sunset, and another spectacular sunset caught from the train. Burma definitely brought out the best in his camera guy.

Then at one point, Tony said, “There is shit going on they do not want you to see,” and didn’t get bleeped!

Score one for CNN.

Miami New Times reviewed the show and called it “No Reservations with slow motion.”

Obviously, Bourdain’s PR machine did a good job of spreading word about the show because its premiere gave CNN a nice ratings bump. But the question is, can he sustain it and build his fan base merely with the twist of eating the same old exotic stuff in places it’s assumed Americans aren’t safe?

Director Tom Vitale gave a good interview about filming the first several episodes to Bon Appetit.

For episode 2, Tony travels to Koreatown in Los Angeles, so I anticipate the usual dim sum and noodle scenes — but (gasp!) on American soil!

I’d turn out to hear Bourdain read the phone book (and will be seeing him live in Richmond on April 23), but how long will most viewers stick around to watch him keep milking the same cow?


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