It’s been more than two months since Anthony Bourdain took his own life in a Paris hotel room. The news was a gut punch to friends, loved ones, and fans around the world, including us here at The Manual. In the aftermath of his death, many wondered what would become of Parts Unknown, the landmark series that explored the human condition through a unique blend of travel, “bizarre” food, local booze, and the badass chef’s magnetic brand of humility. Now, CNN has announced the show will go on — for one final season.
According to the Los Angeles Times, CNN has confirmed that the twelfth and final season of Parts Unknown will air in the fall of 2018. Season 11 had already been airing while Bourdain and his crew were in the process of early filming on season 12 in France. However, the team had only completed a single episode — in which Tony teams up with W. Kamau Bell, the host of CNN’s United Shades of America — that included the chef’s personal narration. Several others, including Spain, Indonesia, the Texas-Mexico border, and the Lower East side of Manhattan, had been filmed as well but were far from complete.
The format of the show will, of course, need to change. CNN has yet to confirm how that will look. It’s likely the new episodes will be pulled and spliced together using previously filmed footage, existing narrative audio recorded on-location, and follow-up interviews with locals. The second-to-last episode will focus on the making of the show, including outtakes and interviews with the crew. The final episode will pay homage to the chef’s life, work, and indelible mark on the world.
In a few short decades, Bourdain rose from the ranks of lowly restaurant dishwasher in Provincetown, Massachusetts, to media superstar in the culinary and travel worlds. His fame gave him a larger-than-life persona, yet his humility, graciousness, and self-effacing sense of humor kept him from acting like a celebrity. He never lost the ability to dig deep into any culture, to talk and connect with literally anyone, including a famous chat with former President Barack Obama over beers in Vietnam.
In the aftermath of Bourdain’s death and the final season of Parts Unknown, CNN admits they’re not looking for a replacement. Amy Entelis, CNN’s executive vice president of talent and content, told the Times, “What Tony did was inimitable. What we want to do is find a show that captures what Tony is all about. It might be a very different show and look nothing like Parts Unknown.”
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