A Brief History of Things Anthony Bourdain Has Said About Scripps and Their Food Television Stars

Technically, Scripps-Howard isn’t a network so much as a series of networks, but the point is: Anthony Bourdain is taking

Technically, Scripps-Howard isn’t a network so much as a series of networks, but the point is: Anthony Bourdain is taking his act on the road, away from the Travel Channel and to CNN. There are no more No Reservations to be had. The ratings-troubled cable news network probably ponied up some decent cash for Bourdain (and Reservations‘ production company, Zero Point Zero) to come their way. Something that also may have helped? The fact that the Travel Channel was purchased by Scripps-Howard in 2009, and Bourdain has never been one to mince words about the Scripps’ networks stable of culinary stars.

For example…

On Paula Deen

“The worst, most dangerous person to America is clearly Paula Deen. She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations and she’s proud of the fact that her food is bad for you.”

On Guy Fieri

“I look at Guy Fieri and I just think, ‘…I’m glad that’s not me.'”

“If I had to be him for five hours, I’d hang myself in a shower stall.”

“Anyone who’s on TV, if you can’t have a sense of humor about yourself, it’s going to be a very tough road. If you can’t make fun of Burrell and Fieri, comedy’s dead.

On Bobby Flay

“In service to this new, groin-level dynamic, even poor, loyal, Bobby Flay was banished from cooking anywhere near as well as he actually could—to face off with web-fingered yokels in head to head crab cake contests—to almost inevitably (and dubiously) lose…They’re sending this poor guy all over the country, to trailer parks and meth labs.

On Sandra Lee

Pure evil. This frightening Hell Spawn of Kathie Lee and Betty Crocker seems on a mission to kill her fans, one meal at a time. She Must Be Stopped. Her death-dealing can-opening ways will cut a swath of destruction through the world if not contained…The eye-searing ‘Kwanzaa Cake’ clip on YouTube, of Sandra Lee doing things with store-bought angel food cake, canned frosting, and corn nuts, instead of being simply the unintentionally hilarious viral video it should be, makes me mad for all humanity. I. Just. Can’t. Help. It.”

On Bourdain’s Brief Time at the Food Network

“I knew there was no light at the end of the tunnel the day we were joined by a new hire—the lawyer and the (it would soon be revealed) outgoing execs stood up and said, “Say hello to Brook Johnson … who we’re all delighted to have join us from … (some other network).” Ms. Johnson was clearly not delighted to meet me or my partners. You could feel the air go out of the room the second she entered. It became instantly a place without hope or humor. There was a limp handshake as cabin pressure changed, a black hole of fun—all light, all possibility of joy was sucked into the vortex of this hunched and scowling apparition. The indifference bordering on naked hostility was palpable.”

On The Food Network’s Programming

“2007 was also the year that Food Network canceled ‘Emeril Live,’ and stopped ordering episodes of ‘Molto Mario,’ a calculated break with the idea of the celebrity chef as a seasoned professional and a move toward an entirely new definition: a personality with a sauté pan.

On Scripps’ Purchase of the Travel Channel

“I’m definitely taking a wait-and-see [approach]. I’m not happy about sharing a hot tub with Guy Fieri, is what I’m saying.”

“Given recent developments, I would say that anything could happen. I’m giving the whole enterprise some serious thought. I know that my crew and I are really into pushing this season as far as we can go creatively. We are doing an entire show in black and white, dubbed in Italian.”

From Bourdain’s 2010 memoir, Medium Raw:

“”It’s Sandra Lee’s world. It’s Rachael’s world. Me? You? We’re just living in it. If this wasn’t clear to me then, after Aunt Sandy had turned me inside out, left me shaken and husked, a shell of a man—like the remains of a lobster dinner, it became absolutely clear just last week: When Scripps Howard, the parent company of Food Network, outbidding Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp, bought my network, the Travel Channel—for nearly a billion dollars.

I remember now, from a distance, my earlier, dumber self, watching Emeril, hawking toothpaste (and later, Rachael, endorsing Dunkin’ Donuts and Ritz Crackers) and gaping, uncomprehending at the screen, wondering, ‘Why would anybody making the millions and millions of bucks these guys are making endorse some crap for a few million more? I mean … surely there’s some embarrassment to putting your face next to Dunkin’ Donuts—what with so many kids watching your shows—and Type 2 diabetes exploding like it is … Surely there’s a line for these people, right?'”

It is safe to say this may have been in the works from quite some time. Like, since the day Scripps purchased Bourdain’s network. He may have found more liberal masters in CNN (the same network that decided to make a disgraced governor a television host and that made an attempt at syndicating VICE video clips two years ago). Here’s hoping they show him and his crew that kind of liberal approach to television.

fkamer@observer.com | @weareyourfek

A Brief History of Things Anthony Bourdain Has Said About Scripps and Their Food Television Stars