Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 | 11:56 p.m.
It was the “Last Bite” for the Season 2 finale of Anthony Bourdain’s global CNN series “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” and it was appropriate that the sparks flew at the downtown bar Atomic Liquors that he selected to host the live telecast.
The French chef turned Emmy-winning TV personality raised numerous nonfood-related issues with his guests, CNN anchor Don Lemon, chef Marcus Samuelsson, comedienne Bonnie McFarlane, former Las Vegas chef Roy Choi and actor Wendell Pierce (“Treme,” “The Wire”).
The multi-camera shoot attracted crowds of fans who spilled over from the large bar onto the outside patio and parking lot on Sunday night. The historic Atomic was where patrons used to watch nuclear test blasts from the roof.
It was a one-hour retrospective episode and lively debate dealing with such hot-button topics as guns in America, the obesity epidemic and food sustainability.
Said Anthony: “We brought together some great guests for ‘Last Bite,’ and going live from Las Vegas made it even more exciting. We’re incredibly proud of this Emmy-winning series and wanted to end Season 2 and launch the shoots for Season 3 with a celebration.”
He’ll begin shooting the third season this month on an African safari and with a tour of Brazil. But even before flying out of Las Vegas, he changed his schedule at the last minute to film with former Mayor Oscar Goodman at his Oscar’s Booze, Beef and Broads Steakhouse at the Plaza.
New CNN chief Jeff Zucker flew in from New York to watch the telecast. When I asked him if he was making over the network, which has been hit with slumping ratings in recent years, he told me: “I want to see more shows like Anthony’s. We cannot rely on breaking news every minute of the day. It doesn’t exist.
“I’d like to see some of those viewer-friendly familiar shows from the past come back. CNN wandered off track by letting go of some of those, and my job is to put it back on track. It’s not soft journalism, but it’s getting away from breaking news. We can have fascinating television with chefs, show business and fashion coverage mixed in.”
While in Las Vegas, Anthony filmed and enjoyed his own dining tour of our hot-spot venues, including chef Saipin Chutima’s top-rated Thai restaurant Lotus of Siam accompanied by former Encore chef Jet Tila, Jaleo by Jose Andres at the Cosmopolitan, Raku on Spring Mountain for char-grilled Japanese food and former Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt’s Bootlegger Bistro that’s been an Italian family tradition since 1949.
Before the CNN show wrapped, Anthony, who was onstage with chef Eric Ripert at Pearl at the Palms in February, took the cameras to the bar where he unveiled his own signature cocktail, the Atomic Bourdain, which is now available whenever the venue is open.
Thanks to Isaac Brekken of WireImage for his photo gallery.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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