CNN Is Making A Feature-Length Documentary About The Life Of Anthony Bourdain

08.18.18 3 months ago

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We’re still deep in mourning over the death of Anthony Bourdain, and it’s a comfort to know we’ll still be seeing him. CNN is still cobbling together what turned out to be the last season of his food/travelogue show Parts Unknown. And now it seems the network is working on what they call “the definitive Bourdain feature documentary.”

According to Joe Pompeo at Vanity Fair, the feature-length documentary will released in theaters next year and is likely to elicit the same or possibly more audience tears than this summer’s Mr. Rogers doc.

CNN tells me it is in pre-production on a documentary film about Bourdain’s life and work, in collaboration with Zero Point Zero, the production company behind Bourdain’s television series. The film, billed as “the definitive Bourdain feature documentary,” is projected to hit screens as early as 2019—first on the festival circuit, then with a theatrical release, and eventually on CNN, a rollout that the network has employed with other documentaries. It’s still early days, so details are scant, but Amy Entelis, CNN’s executive vice president for talent and content, told me the decision to make a Bourdain film was simple. “As well as we knew Tony,” she said, “because he did reveal himself in the series, there was still a hunger to know more about him, and to honor his work and celebrate him. The documentary format became one of the more obvious ways to go.”

The chef-turned-TV god memorably chronicled his tumultuous life himself, in his debut bestseller Kitchen Confidential. In between tales of drug addiction and failed restaurants and how he got into the biz partly because he knew it would get him laid, Bourdain exposed the dank secrets of the service industry. He told us not to go to restaurants on Mondays. He shamed Sunday brunchers. He scolded anyone who uses a garlic press, because whatever that goo that comes out of them is, it ain’t garlic.

Bourdain’s second act was something else, too. Once a disappointment, a scourge of the restaurant business, he got clean, turned his life around, became a highly entertaining writer, and then a highly entertaining TV star. His shows — including No Reservations and The Layover — didn’t just take viewers to far flung hot spots.

Bourdain immersed himself in untold cultures, breaking down barriers and imploring us to not treat locals like unknowable Others. His is a tale with a tragic ending, but in his 61 years here here he accomplished so much.

The documentary is still a long way off, though. In the meantime, the final seven episodes of Parts Unknown will air on CNN in the fall.

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