Samantha Brown on Anthony Bourdain: 'There Will Never Be Another'
About 10 years ago, I got an email from a producer with Zero Point Zero, the production company that produces Anthony Bourdain’s shows. They wanted me to make an appearance in his infamous yearly Christmas show for the Travel Channel.
The concept was that I had gone off the rails and was living in a one room apartment with about 100 cats and now spent my days yelling at a TV playing our old network. In the scene, Anthony would be bringing me food to make amends for some of the disparaging things he had said about me in his past shows (which he had a tendency to do).
Like anyone I jumped at the chance to work with not only Anthony, but his creative team that had become exceptional at pushing buttons and knocking down stereotypes. I got to write my own script where I laid into him about his now worshipped bad boy image, that it was because of him that I was now surrounded by cats since my “adorableness” was no longer needed at the network. We had a blast and he loved every insult I threw at him.
But in between takes is when I got to relax and talk to a man that I and literally an entire world admired… We shared some of the difficulties of always being on the road, funny stories of when things go terribly wrong, and some of our favorite people that travel allowed us to meet. Talking to him was such a joy. He was honest, unguarded, and soft — a softness that he wasn’t into showing people in those earlier years but is now a big part of his later shows. I’ll watch him and see his eyes, full and vulnerable and I’ll think... he loves it there.
In the past 10 years every production company I’ve worked with has told me the same thing: “We’re looking for the next Bourdain." As if Anthony’s brilliance could be found in a casting call or recreated using other men who were “raw and irreverent." Anthony was so much deeper than that. I would tell the production company something that now seems so dark and unacceptable.
There’s only one Anthony Bourdain and there will never be another.