99 PROBLEMS BUT A BRIT AIN\'T ONE
By Paul Cabana, Producer
First time producer on Bourdain. looking forward to a cakewalk – what could go wrong? (1) Tony\’s car to the airport an hour late. (2) he\’s pissed. that surly intimidating TV persona? Not so much for TV. (3) Economy Plus should be renamed Business Minus. We\’re sitting four across like we\’re strapped on a roller coaster. The symbolism doesn\’t escape me. (4) I switch seats with Todd who claims he has a phobia of middle seats. Note to self: watch out for The Todd. (5) We arrive in the UK and still haven\’t confirmed our key scene, Marco Pierre White. (6) We\’re testing new cameras on this shoot and find some big glitches: the big one is the focus ring. It\’s way off. (9) Todd and Zach really annoyed. Not exactly a smooth start.DAY TWO
(10) We need B-roll that\’s not too obvious and perfect. Need something dark. But everything looks like Harry Potter hooked up with a rainbow. (11) In case we end the show in Scotland, I need Tony to do an episode wrap to camera. So my first question, ever, to Tony has to be \’what did you learn?\’ from a trip he hasn\’t had yet. Nice. (12) Still no word from Marco Pierre White. (13) I have to film Tony walking. He\’s walking twice his normal speed and Zach and I are literally running after him. (14) Tony hates walking shots. (15) I gather this from when he says \’I hate walking shots.\’ (16-26) We have to film about ten more walking shots.
DAY THREE – IAN RANKIN
(27) Tony\’s with his friend, Ian Rankin. We need to set up the bar, so we have them order a pint while they wait. (28) They need some beers for the scene. Let\’s order pints. (29) lunch break, so they get a pint. (30) chip shop not ready. Let\’s all get a pint. (31) B-roll break. get a pint. (32) need to wait for restaurant. pints. (33) wait for light. Pints. (34) Meal scene. They need beverages. Wine. (35) Finally. Time to film the key conversation. So why the f*%k are they slurring their words??
DAY FOUR – TRAIN SCENE
(35) Taking the train down to London. Zach realizes he left his passport in the hotel safe. We\’re here for a few more days. They\’ll just send it to us in London. No problem (36) great news from Marco. He\’s letting us film us hunt… but there\’s a catch. only one person/camera can go.
DAY FIVE – MEAT MARKET
(37) 3:30 am wake up call. (38) 4 a.m. at Smithfield market. I\’m filming a butcher fondle a bucket of testicles. Which he may or may not be enjoying. Dreams really do come true. (39) 6 a.m. filming the butchers at the cock tavern and they\’re covered with blood. Wait a second. That\’s actually great. (40) they won\’t let us into the kitchen to film. They say come back at 4. (41) I come back at 4. Still no luck. Screw it. (42) I\’m filming B-roll of a telephone booth but there\’s a guy in there who\’s convinced I am recording his conversation which we can assume at this point is not so much legal. A police officer comes up. Time for the \’ol standard tourist filming line. Because every tourist needs really good b-roll of a phone booth. (43) Send in The Zach for the hunting scene with Marco and Tony. Pray that they shoot a deer, have a great conversation and that everyone stays safe, in that order. (44) They come back, deer in tow. Tony shot his first deer and I find myself saying the phrase, \”Todd, let\’s get some carcass porn\” (45) Filming dinner scene. It\’s so dark we need 9 fat candles around the table. Now it looks like some sort of creepy Hannakuh.
DAY SIX – FERGUS AND PHIL
(46) Filming in St. John Bread & Wine and it couldn\’t be louder. (47) Next up, filming in Jerry\’s Bar and it couldn\’t be darker. (48) Finally, filming in Soho with Phil Dirtbox and it couldn\’t be more chaotic. But somehow, strangely, it\’s all working out and the footage couldn\’t be better.
DAY SEVEN – MORCHEEBA
(49) Last scene of the shoot. With the band, Morcheeba. Some of the nicest guys I\’ve had the pleasure to work with. Tony is having a blast and it shows. We end up filming two fantastic scenes involving two songs… but I have absolutely no idea how we can use it all in the show. (50) Zach\’s passport doesn\’t arrive and he has to stay in London an extra day. (51) Why couldn\’t Jay Z have written 51 Problems? Let\’s just assume there were a bunch more and skip to… (99) We\’ve just wrapped the UK show. My first, but I\’m only halfway through. It\’s right on to Athens for seven more days, and another show. One down. One to go. I\’m sure I\’ll have 99 more problems, but this Brit show, thank god, ain\’t one.