Anderson Cooper as Daytime Talk Show Host: Good Move?


Geraldo Rivera. Jane Pauley. Phil Donahue. Jerry Springer. These are names that everyone knows. But are they names you want to be associated with if you're Anderson Cooper?

Apparently so. The CNN anchor is set to get his own syndicated daytime talk show, a program that will address "social issues, trends and events, pop culture and celebrity, human interest stories and populist news," according to a joint announcement by Telepictures Production and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. The one-hour program will debut in the fall of 2011. Cooper will continue to host his 10 p.m. newscast, Anderson Cooper 360.

This development, news of which was first broken by The Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd, is in some regards a surprising one. Despite a taste for biceps-hugging T-shirts and a history of guest-hosting Live with Regis and Kelly, Cooper, who started out as a freelance foreign correspondent, is an award-winning journalist who cherishes his reputation for serious reporting. Daytime talk, as the list of names at the start of this article suggests, is not always compatible with that -- though, to be sure, neither is primetime, necessarily. According to the announcement, the yet-to-be-titled show will explore "relevant issues and social trends affecting women's lives" including "hot-button issues from race to infidelity to Internet predators."

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One way to read this is as Cooper's hedge against further upheaval at CNN (TWX). The network will turn over two-thirds of its primetime lineup in the next few months, with Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker's debate show debuting and Piers Morgan taking over for Larry King.

The network also has a new president, Ken Jautz, who replaces Jon Klein. Jautz comes from HLN, where he built ratings by embracing the personality-first model of cable news. Were he to apply that philosophy to CNN, AC 360, which purports to be about the stories Cooper covers, not Cooper's views on them, would find itself in a precarious position. Clearly aware of that possible interpretation, CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton made an announcement of his own today, saying Cooper "has extended his relationship with CNN and will be with us for years to come."

Whatever the thinking, now is the moment for launching a new syndicated talk show, with Oprah Winfrey's move to cable creating a huge vacuum. CBS (CBS), spotting the same opportunity, is already moving ahead with plans for a new show, The Talk, that will be similar in format to ABC's (DIS) The View.