Las Vegas agent recalls Anthony Bourdain looking ‘depressed’ in May

Updated June 8, 2018 - 6:40 pm

The agent who booked Anthony Bourdain’s final public appearance in the U.S. refused to believe the news.

“It was a little after 5 o’clock in the morning, my friends in New York started calling me and telling me this horrible news about Tony,” said Jaki Baskow, owner of Baskow Talent and Las Vegas Speakers Bureau. “All I could think of was how much he loved his daughter. He loved her so much and was so dedicated to her. It’s so very sad. I am in shock.”

Bourdain was found dead by fellow culinary star and close friend Eric Ripert on Friday morning in Kaysersberg, France. He was filming an episode of his CNN series, “Parts Unknown,” at the time of his death. He was 61. He’s survived by his 11-year-old daughter, Ariene.

“What makes this even more tragic is how he had talked about always being accountable and reliable in life,” Baskow said. “He said, ‘In life, you have to be a person of your word. When you say you’re going to be there, be there.’ ”

Baskow had signed Bourdain as keynote speaker at the Next Conference, a convention for the tech company Nutanix, at the New Orleans Convention Center on May 10. “He did not look well, he was gaunt, skinny, and didn’t seem healthy and actually seemed depressed to me,” she recalled.

During his speaking appearance, however, Bourdain turned on the personality and was a compelling presence.

“He was different onstage, a little outrageous, outspoken, verbally very interesting,” Baskow said. “He was engaging, open about his life. Everyone was excited to hear what this person who had been all over the world had to say.”

Bourdain interviewed former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman at his eponymous restaurant at the plaza in November 2013. With Fremont Street in the backdrop, the two chatted for a “Parts Unknown” episode centered on Las Vegas.

“I found him to be remarkably bright, incisive, interesting, just one of the most pleasant times I’ve ever had in an interview,” Goodman said. “He seemed to fit his life perfectly, going off to foreign lands and exploring cuisine and culture. You never know what is going to cause a fellow to have demons to drive him to this type of destiny. I honestly can’t understand it.”

Springfield shakes it up

Rick Springfield says he’s happy to have hits, and does plan to play such memorable pop/rock classics as “Jessie’s Girl” and “I’ve Done Everything For You” on Saturday night at Junefest at Sunset Station Amphitheater. Sponsored by KKLZ 96.3 FM, the event’s co-headliners are Starship with Mickey Thomas, and Terri Nunn and Berlin (doors open at 5 p.m.; tickets are $29-$99, call 800-745-300).

Clearly, the outdoor festival leans on the hits. But Springfield’s latest album, “The Snake King,” is a direct challenge to his longtime fans.

“It’s caused some waves, for sure,” Springfield said in a recent interview. “That’s what art is for, to make waves, to make a statement.”

For instance, Springfield’s latest effort features the song, “Jesus Was an Atheist.”

“It’s kind of poking a stick at the dogma of religion. I was basically raised Catholic, in the Church of England, which is Catholic with a little less guilt,” Springfield said. “I’m not an atheist. I have a lot of spiritual beliefs, but I’m not a fan of structured organized religion, our way or the highway. I never have been, and I don’t think any real thinking person is.”

Springfield added, “My songwriting is not nearly as much about sex as it used to be. It’s about the state of the world, the state of our spiritual path, our leaders who are puffing the chest, destroying the planet and threatening war. When you look at this world, there is a lot to say.”

By the numbers

2 and 14: The number of years Xavier Mortimer has performed his “Magical Dream” show at Sin City Theater at Planet Hollywood, and how many acts are in that show. A former artist in “Michael Jackson One” at Mandalay Bay, Mortimer remains the first and only ex-Cirque du Soleil performer to headline on the Strip. He marked his second anniversary at Planet Hollywood on Wednesday.

Cool hang alert

“The Voice” alum Ryan Whyte Maloney, an inspired singer/songwriter/musician, performs at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at Piazza lounge at Tuscany Suites. He appeared on the sixth season of the NBC contest show in 2014 and his been crisscrossing town for the past couple of years. No admission charge for this show; support the cause by purchasing cocktails or even #fizzywater.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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