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The chef, author and media personality will get his own program on the cable news network in early 2013. He’ll become the marquee personality in CNN’s efforts to broaden its lifestyle programming especially during the weekend hours.
No Reservations is in its eighth season on Travel, where Bourdain also writes a popular blog. A spinoff series The Layover recently began production on season two. New episodes of both shows will continue to air into 2013. In a statement, the Travel Channel called Bourdain an “iconic figure” at the network.
“We are proud of the great storytelling Tony has brought to the Network,” the statement continued. “We congratulate him on his new venture and look forward to working with him on new projects in the future.”
Bourdain’s untitled CNN program will air Sunday evenings and repeat on Saturdays. It will follow a similar format to No Reservations, according to Mark Whitaker, CNN Worldwide executive vp and managing editor. But with the support and apparatus of an international news organization behind him, Bourdain will be able to visit even many more global hot spots.
“I think he’s been a little bit frustrated,” Whitaker told The Hollywood Reporter. “He’s gone to a lot of places at the Travel Channel but there are some places that he hasn’t been able to go.”
Indeed, Bourdain and his No Reservations crew were filming in Lebanon in 2006 when the war between Hezbollah and Israel forced them to flee. Bourdain has said he felt “persistent shame and regret” over leaving the country then; they were evacuated by U.S. Marines. He returned to Lebanon in 2010.
The CNN deal, which officially kicks off this fall when production on the first season of eight episodes begins, also calls for Bourdain to appear as a contributor on other CNN programs. And Whitaker predicts that viewers could begin to see him on the network this fall. Bourdain’s blog also will move to the CNN web site.
His CNN show will be produced by Zero Point Zero Production, which also produced Travel’s No Reservations. Whitaker said the goal is to do two seasons of eight episodes each year.
Traveling to war- and disaster-torn locales has become a Bourdain signature. He was awarded an Emmy for an episode shot in Haiti in the wake of the earthquake there and he was nominated for an Emmy for the 2006 Beirut installment of No Reservations.
“He’s not a conventional journalist,” said Whitaker. “But what he does is highly journalistic.”
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