The feature film will be helmed by Academy Award-winning director Morgan Neville.

By Mike Pomranz / FoodandWine.com
October 28, 2019
Paulo Fridman/Getty Images

Anthony Bourdain began his celebrity chef ascension with his book Kitchen Confidential, released in 2000. By his untimely death in 2018, his award-winning CNN show Parts Unknown—which ran for five years and 12 seasons—had cemented his two-decade run as one of the most beloved stars in the business. Now, CNN Films, along with HBO Max and Focus Features, plan to pay a final tribute to a man known for focusing on the humanity behind the culinary world with a feature film documentary "about the uncommon life of the late storyteller, explorer, and chef."

The still-untitled documentary—which has no announced timetable for release and was even teased over a year ago—will be directed by Morgan Neville whose 2013 film about backup singers, 20 Feet from Stardom, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. More recently, Neville's 2018 Mister Rogers doc Won't You Be My Neighbor? became the top-grossing biographical documentary ever released. And on the small screen, he has worked with David Chang, both on Ugly Delicious and Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

"Anthony Bourdain did more to help us understand each other than just about anyone in the history of television," Neville said in the announcement. "He connected with people not in spite of his flaws, but because of them. To have the opportunity to tell his story is humbling. CNN is in the DNA of Tony's work, and the perfect partners in this journey."

Speaking of perfect partners, Lydia Tenaglia and Christopher Collins—founders of Zero Point Zero Productions, which was involved in most Bourdain projects—will be consulting producers on the film. "Having worked with Anthony Bourdain for close to 20 years, Chris Collins and I felt very protective over the story of his life and the decision on who to direct it," Tenaglia stated. "In Morgan Neville's hands, we are sure to get a nuanced portrait of the complex, wildly creative man we knew."

Bourdain's agent and literary executor, Kimberly Witherspoon, will also serve as a consulting producer. Additionally, the Bourdain estate has agreed to provide access to photos, home movies, letters, music, and all the other elements important to flushing out a documentary film.

Though the timeline for release remains unclear, you'll definitely know where to find the flick once it comes out. Focus Features will debut the doc exclusively in theaters worldwide. After that, the film will make its television debut on CNN before finally landing on HBO Max where subscribers will be able to stream it. (CNN and HBO have the same parent company, WarnerMedia.)

"We are thrilled that Morgan will bring his singular voice to this film, revealing what we loved so much about Tony," said Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development, on behalf of CNN Films. "Partnering with Focus Features and HBO Max ensures even more of Tony's devoted fans will be able to celebrate him."

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