Nearly two months after the tragic loss of Anthony Bourdain, CNN announces that it will run the final season of Parts Unknown that the author/TV host was filming when he died. The LA Times reports that the cable network plans to release new episodes that Bourdain filmed in Kenya, Texas, Spain, Indonesia, and Manhattan before his death, as well as a special episode with reflections from the cast and crew of the show, and a series finale about “how Tony affected the world,” with fan reactions and remembrances from people who appeared on screen with Tony.
The Kenya episode, which chronicles a trip Bourdain took with fellow CNN star W. Kamau Bell, is the only one that was completed before the Kitchen Confidential author took his life in France earlier this summer. Bourdain’s original narration will appear in that episode, but the rest of Season 12 will include audio stitched together from pre-recorded interviews. The Parts Unknown crew is also shooting “follow up interviews” to help fill in the gaps.
“Each one will feel slightly different depending on what’s gathered in the field,” says CNN’s executive VP of talent and content Amy Entelis. “They will have the full presence of Tony because you’ll see him, you’ll hear him, you’ll watch him. That layer of his narration will be missing, but it will be replaced by other voices of people who are in the episodes.”
Bourdain was one of the network’s biggest stars. During the first half of 2018, first-run episodes of Parts Unknown commanded the highest ad rate on average for any CNN series. “He was our stake in the ground for CNN’s original programming,” Entelis says. “You’ll find his influence in a lot of what we’ve done.”
CNN has no plans to reboot Parts Unknown with a different host, but Entelis and her team are working on developing new unscripted series to fill in the gap that Bourdain and his award-winning show left behind. “What Tony did was inimitable,” Entelis remarks. “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.”
CNN has not yet announced the exact premiere date for the final season of Parts Unknown, but in pervious years, the fall season typically launched in late September or early October. Stay tuned for more updates on the grand finale of Parts Unknown as they become available.