Calling it a “huge part of what CNN is going to to be,” CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker welcomed hundreds of guests to Porter House at Time Warner Center for a launch event for the network’s newest show hosted by Anthony Bourdain. “Parts Unknown” debuts Sunday night at 9pmET/PT.
CNN is, in fact, venturing into parts unknown with what Bourdain is cooking up. Bringing in a well-known non-news talent for a weekly one-hour travel/food/cultural awareness show is a departure for the network. Still, Zucker calls “Parts Unknown,” “the true measure of what we want this network to be.”
“We have a true television star in our midst,” said Zucker, who was quickly reminded of the dozen other on air talent in the room. “Not that we don’t have great television stars at CNN …Brooke Baldwin,” said Zucker, noticing the daytime anchor in the crowd, “You’re a television star.” We also spotted Anderson Cooper, (who dropped in before his show) Piers Morgan, Ashleigh Banfield, A.J. Hammer, Christine Romans (above with Bourdain and Baldwin) and John Berman.
Zucker heaped praise on CNN’s SVP of talent and content development Amy Entelis and Vinnie Malhotra, SVP of development and acquisitions, who began courting Bourdain a year ago. Bourdain had hosted “No Reservations” on Travel Channel since 2005.
“I’m grateful to be with CNN,” Bourdain told the crowd. “I got my official CNN ID today so I guess the cavity searches are over.”
The first of 8 original episodes airs Sunday. A second season is set for the Fall. The network is also developing a show with documentarian Morgan Spurlock, and this week announced it would add a Friday night studio audience talk show with CBC host George Stroumboulopoulos.
More pictures from last night after the jump…
(Photos: David Holloway/CNN)