Random Tangent: Can Anthony Bourdain save CNN, or will CNN ruin Bourdain?

A recent opinion piece from The Week that caught my eye.  I love Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations, and his newer series The Layover.  If you have any interest in tirades on celebrity chefs, armchair politics, anti-vegitarianism, or food porn (I promise that link is safe), delivered from a guy who could be your weird uncle, Bourdain’s work is for you.  His constant musing throughout his travels is always entertaining and very often informative and insightful, making real connections with the people and places he encounters.  I’d have to figure that he has the best job in the world: some-time chef, part-time writer, constant traveller, full-time gourmand. He sells every destination to his viewers as a unique and meaningful learning experience, and it seems he does believe that.  It seems his Travel Channel days are over, and a move to CNN is on the way.  I think his honesty and passion could translate well to cable, because he is serious about his work.  But it doesn’t really get to the heart of CNN’s ratings slump, as detailed in this piece:

As its ratings slump, the venerable cable news outlet is recruiting the hard-drinking, outspoken Travel Channel host to diversify its offerings

Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper aren’t exactly known for cursing and boozing, so when CNN announced this week that it was hiring profane hedonist Anthony Bourdain as a host, the news came as something of a surprise. The celebrity chef — whose loyal following enjoys watching him devour animal parts, guzzle alcohol, and pontificate on everything from Lebanese politics to Chicago hot dogs — will host a weekend travel show on CNN in 2013. Bourdain has hosted The Travel Channel’s popular No Reservations since 2005 (the show will not be renewed after this season), and CNN is clearly hoping his brash approach can help reverse a bad slide in ratings. Can Bourdain work his magic at CNN?

Bourdain is the centerpiece of CNN’s restructuring: Bourdain is set to “become the marquee personality in CNN’s efforts to broaden its lifestyle programming,” says Marisa Guthrie at The Hollywood Reporter. While he might appear an odd fit for the news channel, “traveling to war- and disaster-torn locales has become a Bourdain signature,” most notably when his film crew got stuck in Lebanon during its 2006 war against Israel. Bourdain will also be a contributor on other CNN programs, suggesting that he might help shape the channel’s news operations.
“Anthony Bourdain exits travel channel to CNN”

But Bourdain can’t help CNN where it’s hurting most: Bourdain can’t shore up CNN’s real weakness — the fact that rival Fox and MSNBC hosts dominate the weekday primetime slots, says Joe Pompeo at Capital. CNN’s primetime slate “has been in ratings freefall for the past several years and recently hit a two-decade low.” And while primetime advertising represents only a fraction of CNN’s revenues, “the network is under pressure from its parent company, Time Warner, to turn the slump around.”
“Can Anthony Bourdain curse on CNN? He’ll soon find out”

And CNN could ruin Bourdain: Given the “sucking power” of CNN, “it’s far more likely that CNN will ruin Bourdain than [that] Bourdain will save the network from stagnation,” says Drew Magary at Gawker. It’s still unclear whether the buttoned-down network will “allow Bourdain to drink absinthe on camera, or shoot a pig in backwater Louisiana, or any of the other naughty things that make him a compelling TV personality.” If his CNN job “results in less eating and more time hanging out with Sean Penn in Haiti,” then Bourdain is in really big trouble.
“Is CNN going to ruin Anthony Bourdain?”

This entry was published on June 4, 2012 at 10:26 am. It’s filed under General News, Pop Culture and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Random Tangent: Can Anthony Bourdain save CNN, or will CNN ruin Bourdain?

  1. I can’t remember the last time I watched CNN on the weekend.
    Actually I can’t remember the last time I watched CNN.
    Bourdain would give me an excuse to.

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