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Cooper Ready to Add His Spin to Daytime

CNN anchor preps fall talker for Warner Bros. that’s expected to cover a broad range of topics 1/10/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

The surprise of the 2011 syndication
season thus far has been Anderson
Cooper’s arrival on the talk
scene. The urbane host of CNN’s primetime
hour, Anderson Cooper 360, will bring his talents
to daytime this fall. Warner Bros. Domestic
Television Distribution has already
cleared talker Anderson on TV stations covering
80% of the country.

After his emotional response to 2004’s
Hurricane Katrina and its devastating impact
on residents of the Gulf Coast, Cooper
has become known for his ability to humanize
the news. He has since done stories for
Oprah, sat in for Regis Philbin and become a
frequent correspondent on CBS’ 60 Minutes.

Now Cooper will put his own spin on
daytime. Calling himself a longtime fan of
daytime TV in an interview with B&C Contributing
Editor Paige Albiniak, he plans a
show with the breadth of Oprah, the intensity
of Donahue and the fun of Ellen. Only
time will tell if he can pull it off.

Why add a daytime talk show to your primetime duties?

I like the daytime audience. I like the ability to do stories in depth, and
to focus on different stories and on the people behind the headlines. I
love news, and I’m happy to continue doing news at night on CNN, but
I’m also excited to do something that will allow me to exercise different
muscles and show my full range.

Doing stories for daytime doesn’t feel that different to me than doing
them for primetime. The stories that I’ve tended to be drawn to at CNN,
ABC or even back at Channel One were always very human stories. If
I’m covering a disaster, I don’t necessarily focus on the surrounding geopolitical
issues. I’ve always focused on the real people involved, so this
feels like a natural fit for me.

Have you always wanted to do a daytime talk show?

It wasn’t something that I’d been looking for an opportunity to do, but I
was always very happy to work with Oprah. I was interested in staying at
CNN, and that determined my path a couple of years ago. What’s great about CNN is that they have been very flexible
in giving me the ability to sit in for Regis, and
to work for Oprah and for 60 Minutes. It’s always
been in the back of my mind that daytime
would be fun and interesting.

When word filtered out that my contract
was coming up, there was interest from a lot of
different syndicators, but none of those plans
seemed realistic. I liked the people at Telepictures,
and since CNN, Warner Bros., and Telepictures
are all under the Time Warner umbrella,
it was easier to work out a way for this
to happen.

Warner Bros. has been clear that this will
not be a news-based talk show. What’s
your vision for it?

It is definitely not going to be a news program.
It will be something that is informative,
entertaining and worth an hour of people’s
investment.

We’ll be one of the few daytime shows that
will be able to cover the broad range of topics
that Oprah can cover. We might have a big
celebrity interview one day and several realperson
stories the next. I’m also a huge popculture
fanatic.

I see myself talking with the audience a lot.
I want to be involved with the audience in
every show, whether that is live in the studio,
or via a technology like Skype. As much as
possible, I want to have connections with the
audience and maintain those connections in a
very real way.

As long as I’m myself and not pretending
to be something I’m not, that’s the key to anything.
Connection is made via authenticity.

Off the subject of syndication, what do you think about the
coming changes at CNN, particularly the arrival of Piers Morgan
and the departure of Larry King?

I love Larry and I’m glad he’s going to continue to have a role at CNN.
I’m excited about Piers Morgan. I don’t know him well, but did an interview
with him and found him interesting. He also did an interview
with me and I found him to be a good interviewer. He asked questions
that surprised me. I hope he does really well.

What do you think about the cable news environment right
now? It seems like a very noisy place to be.

I don’t involve myself in the cable news thing. I’m not interested in getting
into Twitter wars with other people. I’m interested in telling stories
and getting better at it and getting better at doing interviews. I understand
why blogs are interested in the cable news wars and why reporters
are interested in it, but it doesn’t add to my bottom line, which is trying
to be the best reporter I can be.

E-mail
comments to
palbiniak@gmail.com
and follow her
on Twitter: @PaigeA

 

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