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Grand Forks native Ed O'Keefe receives Primetime Emmy for Anthony Bourdain spinoff

Grand Forks native Ed O'Keefe holds the Primetime Emmy he and his colleagues received at an awards ceremony Sunday in Los Angeles. The award recognizes their achievement in producing a digital series called, "Anthony Bourdain: Explore Parts Unknown." (Submitted photo) 1 / 3
Brothers Ed O'Keefe (left) and Jon O'Keefe pose for a photo at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards Ceremony on Sunday in Los Angeles. At the event, Ed O'Keefe and his colleagues, accepted an award for their work as executive producers of a digital series, "Anthony Bourdain: Explore Parts Unknown." (Submitted photo) 2 / 3
Grand Forks native Ed O'Keefe received a Primetime Emmy for his role as an executive producer of "Anthony Bourdain: Explore Parts Unknown" on Sunday in Los Angeles. O'Keefe is a '96 graduate of Red River High School. (Submitted photo) 3 / 3

Grand Forks native Ed O'Keefe accepted a Primetime Emmy award Sunday in Los Angeles for the series, "Anthony Bourdain: Explore Parts Unknown," a digital offshoot of the "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" television series.

O'Keefe was one of six executive producers to receive the award for "Outstanding Achievement in Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series."

"It was a bittersweet win," said O'Keefe, a 1996 graduate of Red River High School who lives in New York City. "But this award isn't about me; I was a very, very small piece of a much bigger story.

"It is an honor and a tribute to Tony (Bourdain), a colleague whom we will deeply miss," O'Keefe said of the noted chef and food journalist who died by suicide in June.


"He had such a depth of knowledge and intelligence, and a profoundly caring heart," O'Keefe said, noting this Emmy Award-winning series "is sort of his last gift."

The specific program that was recognized is titled "Little LA," a six-episode series that explores the experiences of immigrants who are preserving the culture of their home countries after settling in Los Angeles, he said.

O'Keefe, who joined CNN a little more than four years ago, is senior vice president of content development at the network. He worked with Bourdain for about two years, he said.

"I came to CNN to run 'CNN Money' and 'CNN Politics,' " he said.

O'Keefe, 40, invited his younger brother, Jonathan O'Keefe of Grand Forks, to join him for the awards ceremony at the Microsoft Theater. Their parents are Bill and Heather O'Keefe of Grand Forks.

"We are proud parents," said Bill O'Keefe. "It's exciting to see a local kid make that kind of accomplishment,"

In the Creative Arts Emmy Awards competition, Ed O'Keefe said his series was up against an "interesting mix" of nominees, including NBC's "Jay Leno's Garage" and the FX series, "The Americans: The Final Season."

The awards ceremony will air at 7 p.m. Saturday on FXX, O'Keefe said.

The series, "Little LA," can be viewed online at: .

O'Keefe credits several of his hometown teachers for nurturing his interest in the arts as well as politics and history, including Gloria Sanford at Kelly Elementary School, Gene Martin and Robert Kulak at Schroeder Middle School, and Brad Sherwood and Dean Opp at Red River High School.

"If not for them, I would not be in the career I am in today," he said.

His education and participation in the Grand Forks Public Schools' Summer Performing Arts program had a lasting impact, he said. "It was a formative experience in my life to have such a deeply rich program of theatre arts and community."

An alumnus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., O'Keefe also worked for 12 years as a correspondent for ABC News, including a 16-month stint covering John Kerry's presidential campaign, he said.

O'Keefe is married to professional photographer Allison O'Keefe, who he met while covering the Kerry campaign. She is the author of the book, "One Goal," about the UND hockey team.

The couple has two children, Elsa, 7, and Alton, 2.