Monday, September 10, 2012

'Anderson' Revamped

‘Anderson Cooper’ revamped for season two starting Sept. 10

2:45 pm September 10, 2012, by Rodney Ho

CNN host Anderson Cooper had okay ratings his first season as a syndicated talk show host but hardly set the world on fire. Nonetheless, he earned a second season that will look and feel very different.

For instance, he will be taping the show the same day. In some markets, though not in Atlanta, it will air live.

Locally, the show is on at 3 p.m. weekdays on WXIA-TV, the local NBC affiliate, with the new season beginning starting today, Sept. 10.

He will also be on a new set which will be more interactive with the audience. And he will have a different co-host each day to play off of.

Cooper was too busy to talk with me, but his executive producer Terence Noonan did last month. He was excited that the first day’s guests include not just Beyonce but Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson! “We were early on the Honey Boo Boo train,” he said, noting he had the mom and daughter visit last season when “Toddlers & Tiaras” are heating up. Cooper has never hidden his love for reality TV. (In Atlanta, he’s against the debut of Katie Couric’s show on WSB, who has Jessica Simpson and Sheryl Crow.)

Ultimately, “people turn to Cooper for topical news,” Noonan said. By taping last season, often weeks in advance, he lost that immediacy.

Cooper this season will tape a show Monday through Thursday in a new studio at 9 a.m. EST and a Friday show on Thursday (except the first two weeks when he’ll do it five days a week.) For us in Atlanta, it’s close to live.

Noonan said going live (or near live) isn’t that much pricier than taping shows in advance. “You aren’t using nearly as much money in post editing,” he said. He said he’s actually trained doing a live show thanks to working with Rosie O’Donnell in the 1990s.

Unlike talk-show hosts like Steve Harvey and Ellen DeGeneres, Cooper is no stand-up comic. He’s better when he’s playing off someone else, as he does with Kathy Griffin on CNN’s New Year’s coverage every year. So when the producer tested guest co-hosts in May, he felt it worked swimmingly so they’re going to pair him up every day.

Kristin Chenowith will be his first co-host of the new season, followed by Niecy Nash, Howie Mandel, David Arquette and Kelly Osborne later this week. Others scheduled down the road include Goldie Hawn, Kellie Pickler and Andy Cohen.

Cooper can report and discuss the serious stuff but has a lighter side, which makes him a good daytime host, Noonan said. And the producer doesn’t think the fact Cooper finally publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation in July is going to make any difference for the show. “His personal life is his,” he said.

Since Cooper airs a show in the evening on CNN every weekday, I anticipate he may have to do power naps during the day or go with very little sleep.

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