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Call it a case of the four p’s: post-production product placement.
In a lengthy screed posted to his Tumblr account today, titled “Fighting Mad,” celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain accuses Travel Channel of re-editing episodes of his show No Reservations so as to give the impression that he was endorsing Cadillac automobiles.
Some background: During production of season 8 last May, Bourdain announced that he was leaving the network to join CNN. As a result, the network suspended production on the season, and repackaged the remaining seven episodes together with three new ones cut together from old footage. The result: a ninth season, dubbed “The Final Tour.”
In his Tumblr post, Bourdain says that while he understands the pressures of making TV profitable in a DVR world, he has nevertheless always had a queasy relationship with brand integration.
“[I]t would be ridiculous to hope or expect that I could ever have control over who buys commercial time in the breaks between segments,” Bourdain writes. “But my name and image are my own.”
As a result, Bourdain says, he went to great lengths to ensure his contract was iron-clad when it came to what products his name and likeness would endorse. So beyond taking “money from a credit card company once” and driving “a BMW once” — for which he was paid with a BMW — he says he’s always managed to “resist the temptation” of endorsing any companies who approached him.
“So it came as a shock and a disappointment to turn on the TV for the last two episodes of my show, and see that someone had taken footage that me and my creative team had shot for my show, cut it up and edited it together with scenes of a new Cadillac driving through the forest. Scenes of me, my face, and with my voice, were edited in such a way as to suggest that I might be driving that Cadillac. That, at least, I was very likely IN that Cadillac—and that if nothing else, I sure as s— was endorsing Cadillac as the vehicle of choice for my show,” Bourdain writes.
Bourdain also rails against the three “special episodes” made from previously shot footage: “Best I can tell, [Travel Channel] are, unfortunately, well within their contractual rights to butcher our painstakingly shot and edited footage as they choose,” he concedes.
“It’s an inglorious way to go out,” Bourdain concludes.
The Hollywood Reporter reached out to Travel Channel, who offered this response via a spokesperson: “We’ve enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Tony and his production team, but his decision to make further remarks on this matter in the public domain is unfortunate.”
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