“There’s a dead prostitute in the trunk of my #Cadillac,” Bourdain Tweeted yesterday. And he wasn’t done with the colorful imagery.
He followed up with, “Wow! I can fit TWO bodies in full rigor in the trunk if a #Cadillac ! Awesome! #travelchannel,” throwing in a hash tag for the network he’s defecting for the sunnier shores of CNN.
And then there was this bon mot: “#Cadillac The blood and spooge wipe right off ! #travelchannel”
After venting his frustration on Twitter, Bourdain took to his blog to explain in more detail (and with fewer references to prostitute corpses).
“[I]t would be ridiculous to hope or expect that I could ever have control over who buys commercial time in the breaks between segments,” he writes. “But my name and image are my own. My name, arguably, might not mean that much—and my face may not be pretty, but they’re mine.”
He recalls an episode in which he agreed to be shown using a certain credit card so that Travel Channel could make some product placement cash, some of which admittedly trickled down to him.
“My fans were not pleased, however,” writes Bourdain. “Not at all. The backlash was considerable and angry. People felt betrayed. As a result, I became even more careful and even more reluctant to do them.”
He says that his contract with the network includes “very specific language” about product endorsement:
“We had both agreed to terms where my name or image was never to be used to either endorse, or imply use of a product without my specific agreement. It was clearly expressed in writing, clearly understood and agreed to that I would not use or mention any products in my show and my name and image would not be used in connection with any products in return for anything of value or any other consideration without my specific agreement…
“So it came as a shock and a disappointment to turn on the TV for the last two episodes of my show, and see that someone had taken footage that me and my creative team had shot for my show, cut it up and edited it together with scenes of a new Cadillac driving through the forest. Scenes of me, my face, and with my voice, were edited in such a way as to suggest that I might be driving that Cadillac. That, at least, I was very likely IN that Cadillac—and that if nothing else, I sure as shit was endorsing Cadillac as the vehicle of choice for my show. All this following seamlessly from the actual show so you were halfway through the damn thing before you even realized it was a commercial.
The network made a commercial, with me endorsing a product, and hadn’t even bothered to ask me. After the first airing of the commercial, I let the network know of my extreme displeasure. Fair warning one would think. They ran it again anyway.
I have no problem with Cadillac, by the way. A couple of people have come up to me after reading my enraged twitter rants on this subject and asked me what my problem is with them. No problem. With them.”
Bourdain actually offers an apology to the folks at Cadillac who actually make the cars he mocked in this Tweets.
He probably wouldn’t be so angry about this incident if so many of his fellow chefs didn’t make their living by slapping their names on inferior products or by using their show to shill for brands they wouldn’t use in their own kitchens.
UPDATE: Consumerist reader Dave points out the similarity between Bourdain’s “dead prostitute in the trunk” Tweets and this scene from the Norm McDonald classic, Dirty Work: