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The seven-episode 12th season will debut on Sept. 23. One episode had been completed prior to Bourdain’s death — a trip to Kenya with W. Kamau Bell, host of CNN’s United Shades of America — and will be the final episode to have Bourdain’s narration. There are four other location-based shows (Indonesia, West Texas, Spain and New York City’s Lower East Side), plus two specials.
The network’s award-winning original series was in production on the 12th season when the beloved celebrity chef and TV host took his own life while filming in France in early June. CNN released a teaser for the 12th season featuring footage of Bourdain (watch in the video player above).
According to the L.A. Times, the rest of the episodes will include travels to Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the Big Ben area of Texas, the U.S.-Mexico border, the Asturias region of Spain, and Indonesia. Those episodes will be completed by the directors who filmed them for Zero Point Zero, Bourdain’s production company, and will feature audio of Bourdain that had been gathered while shooting on location, the newspaper reports.
“Each one will feel slightly different depending on what’s gathered in the field,” Amy Entelis, CNN executive vp talent and content, who launched Parts Unknown in 2013, told the L.A. Times. “They will have the full presence of Tony because you’ll see him, you’ll hear him, you’ll watch him. That layer of his narration will be missing, but it will be replaced by other voices of people who are in the episodes.”
Entelis said the penultimate episode will see the cast and crew going behind the scenes to discuss the making of the series and that the finale will focus on “how Tony affected the world.” Beyond those final two episodes, there are no plans to use show archives.
Following the unexpected news of Bourdain’s death on June 8, CNN paid tribute to the Emmy-winning host and best-selling author with a weekend of specials and announced that it would air the final two episodes of the 11th season of Parts Unknown as planned. The eight-episode season had followed Bourdain as he traveled the globe on food tours in Newfoundland, Uruguay, Armenia, Berlin and Hong Kong. The final two episodes featured Cajun Mardi Gras and Bhutan.
Parts Unknown will premiere new episodes on consecutive Sundays — beginning with Kenya, an extended episode airing from 9 p.m.-10:15 p.m. ET on Sept. 23 — through Nov. 11, with a pre-emption on Nov. 4 for pre-election coverage. See the episode descriptions below.
Kenya: Bourdain introduces his fellow CNN Original Series host W. Kamau Bell (United Shades of America) to the distinctive sights, tastes, and sounds of Kenya. It is Bell’s first trip to the African continent, and to a country that holds a personal connection for him. In Nairobi, they talk to locals about the country’s growth and economic challenges, as well as the continual fight for identity and self-definition of Kenyans. Bourdain and Bell also take a Matatu party bus ride, share a meal of goat’s head soup and visit a boxing academy devoted to teaching young women, and promoting female empowerment. Leaving Nairobi the pair travel to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and visit with a Maasai community actively engaged in conservation. Through the eyes of Bourdain and Bell, and their first experiences with this highly dynamic deeply, soulful and beautiful country we ask, what will a future Kenya… for Kenyans…. by Kenyans…look like?
Asturias, Spain: Bourdain travels to the enchanted region of Asturias, Spain with chef and humanitarian Jose Andres, as he makes a return to his homeland. The people of Asturias embody the rugged environment of the region with a hard working ‘do it yourself’ spirit. Bourdain and Andres hike to a remote village in the mountains for traditional fabada, ocean cliffs for gooseneck barnacles, and secret cheese caves in undisclosed locations. Bourdain also enjoys pitu de caleya with local musician Pablo Und Destruktion while he’s served on the last worker’s class movement. And in true Jose Andres form, he saves a special surprise for the end.
Indonesia:A shadow puppet performance provides an entry into understanding Indonesia, a country comprised of thousands of islands whose people endured political turmoil, and one in which, Bourdain discovers, food is the great unifier. In this fourth largest country in the world, every area has it’s own unique traditions. In Jakarta, Bourdain eats at a Padang Restaurant where nearly every menu item comes to the table; while in Bali he visits the beach, commenting on yoga before joining in a traditional Balinese Funeral ceremony.
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown Special #1 (working title): This episode explores how Anthony Bourdain’s unique perspective and voice altered the world of food, travel and culture and in the process reinvented how audiences watched television and engaged intimately and actively with the world around them.
West Texas: Bourdain travels to the untamed land of Big Bend, Texas near the Mexican border; an area that pits man against nature and in which the land usually wins. Bourdain shares meals with working cowboys who have made peace with the rough terrain, and meets with an anthropologist who decoded prehistoric landmark, the White Shaman wall painting.
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown Special #2 (working title): Bourdain’s relationship with his crew, the team that traveled with him and slogged through the trenches, was like no other in his life. In this episode the people who made Parts Unknown select moments from their episodes and pull back the curtain, to talk about collaboration, creative freedom, moments when Bourdain had their back or called them out, the times when he was caught off guard or forgot the cameras were even there.
Lower East Side: Bourdain takes a personal journey through this formerly bohemian New York City neighborhood, as he meets, shares meals and reflects with music, film and art trailblazers including Richard Hell, Deborah Harry and Chris Stein, Lydia Lunch, Fab 5 Freddy, Danny Fields, Amos Poe, Jim Jarmusch, Kembra Pfahler, John Lurie, Clayton Patterson and Harley Flanagan, whose collective cultural impact in the 1970’s and ’80’s has sustained through the decades.
Sept. 6, 1:30 p.m. Updated with premiere date, teaser and episode descriptions.
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