Gawker asks, "Will CNN ruin Anthony Bourdain?" but maybe we should be asking, "Will Anthony Bourdain ruin CNN?" (Kidding: big fans, Tony!)
Yes, the ratings-challenged cable network that Ted Turner built CNN has wooed the chef-turned-media personality and author Anthony Bourdain from the Travel Channel, where his current programming will run through the end of the year. Beginning early 2013, Bourdain's new weekend program “will be shot on location and examine cultures from around the world through their food and dining and travel rituals.”
At a time when CNN’s ratings are at historic lows, the hiring of the oft-profane Bourdain is part of a new weekend programming strategy.
Consider it a “further step in broadening and distinguishing CNN’s weekend programming from its traditional weekday news coverage.” CNN can afford to take risks on the weekend, when its ratings are at its lowest. Bourdain will also be a commentator on CNN’s U.S. and international channels.
It’s a validation of the value of the Bourdain brand. “For more than a decade, Anthony Bourdain has been a trailblazer in educating Americans about different cuisines and cultures around the world, as well as an outspoken commentator on social trends ranging from the rise of celebrity chefs to the impact of fast food chains to the spread of vegetarianism and veganism,” said Mark Whitaker, EVP and managing editor for CNN Worldwide.
“Examining the world through the prism of Tony’s unique expertise and passions continues CNN’s long-standing commitment to international reporting and to promoting global understanding.”
The as-yet-untitled program will be produced by Emmy-award winning Zero Point Zero, the production company behind No Reservations, Bourdain’s Travel Channel show since 2005.
His CNN show will run in prime time on Sundays, repeated the following Saturday, as well as on CNN International. As Bourdain tweeted, "Moving with same ZPZ crew over to CNN to do another world travel show. Congo? Libya? Finally?"
Zero Point Zero has worked with Bourdain for over a decade, also producing The Layover on Travel Channel and his first TV series, A Cook's Tour on Food Network. “I’m really looking forward to coming over to CNN. I think the world is going to get a whole lot bigger for me. I hope that old fans and new ones will be excited about what’s coming down the road,” said Bourdain to the New York Times.
Bourdain has distinguished his culinary talents with reporting from Europe, Asia, North and South America to war-torn and isolated regions in Vietnam, Mozambique, Uzbekistan and Romania. His accolades include Emmy awards for programs on Haiti and Laos, and an Emmy nomination for an episode of No Reservations shot in Beirut during the 2006 Lebanon War.
In addition to being active on the speaking circuit and appearing at foodie festivals and the like, Bourdain has written non-fiction and fiction books, including the New York Times bestsellers Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour, and now oversees his own line of books as a guest editor at Ecco, a division of HarperCollins, with three titles scheduled for a 2013 release.
Now that he's stepping up to a global platform, what can fans expect next? Will Bourdain and CNN returnee Christiane Amanpour join forces on a gastro-political tour of the world's hotspots? Stay tuned.