Anthony Bourdain to join CNN in 2013
This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
Anthony Bourdain, the globe-trotting chef and food pontificator, is joining CNN as a host and commentator on the things he knows best: food and travel.
Beginning in 2013, Bourdain will be bringing his expertise to a new weekly CNN show airing on the weekends. He'll also be appearing across CNN's programming, offering commentary.
Bourdain is joining the network to bolster its weekend programming. CNN has been experiencing a pronounced ratings slump, with the channel's April ratings down an average of 21% from the same month a year ago.
In a statement, Bourdain said, "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."
Bourdain's deal with CNN is exclusive, so it looks as if we've seen the last of Bourdain's previous series "No Reservations," which has aired on the Travel Channel since 2005. The show's eighth season is coming to a close next week.
Bourdain's as-yet-untitled new show will continue in the same vein as "No Reservations," with Bourdain traveling to exotic locales to experience the local cuisine and customs. The same production company which produces "No Reservations," Zero Point Zero Productions, will be joining Bourdain on his CNN endeavor, so for fans of the author and host, the changes won't be that drastic.
[Updated, 11:45 a.m. May 29: According to CNN Worldwide executive vice president Mark Whitaker, Bourdain's new program will "evolve a little bit" but still retain the basics of "No Reservations."
"It will still have the things that make the show distinctive," Whitaker said Tuesday. "He travels the world and takes you into the different cultures. His unique voice and perspective are still there."
Bourdain's new program will retain the same split-season format of "No Reservations," with a first season of 16 episodes, divided into two eight-episode runs.
Whitaker also said Bourdain joining CNN is just one part of more changes coming to the ratings-challenged news channel.
"We're looking at a lot of things," he said. "We're actively involved now more than we've been in the past, both with developing ideas internally and hearing ideas from outside production companies."
[Updated, 2:30 p.m., May 29: Fans of Bourdain's shows on the Travel Channel won't be entirely at a loss with the announcement of his impending departure for CNN.
According to a Travel Channel spokeswoman, "As part of Travel Channel's strategic repositioning of the brand and its core programming mission, the network has been aggressively developing new talent, new voices and new shows, as announced last year. Anthony Bourdain has been an iconic figure at Travel Channel for eight groundbreaking seasons of the Emmy Award-winning 'No Reservations' and he just finished shooting the latest season of 'No Reservations.' Additionally, we just began filming with Tony for Season Two of 'The Layover.' Original episodes of both series will run through 2013 and Bourdain programs will always have a home on Travel Channel. We are proud of the great storytelling Tony has brought to the network. We congratulate him on his new venture and look forward to working with him on new projects in the future."]
-- Patrick Kevin Day
Photo: Anthony Bourdain. Credit: Mike Lawrie / Getty Images